The FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid is a reminder that Trump has always been a national security threat

This week we were starkly reminded that Donald Trump was and is a national security risk unlike anything the United States has ever seen.

The FBI search of Trump’s Florida retreat, Mar-a-Lago, and the revelations of details of his war with America’s generals, as featured in a preview of a new book by the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser and New York Times Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker again underscored that Trump poses a unique threat as President. His character flaws, ignorance, disregard for our laws and institutions, and questionable loyalties made him the most dangerous and powerful man alive.

And that threat remains as he is likely to be running for president for the third time. In many ways, it’s even more serious as Trump and his supporters grow bolder in their acceptance of ideas that could make it impossible for the nation to defend itself against him in the future.

The howls of protest from Republicans following the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida residence were as loud as they were cynical, hypocritical and irresponsible.

They knew full well that Trump had illegally removed classified documents from the White House – not only because it was acknowledged, but some of the documents were returned. They knew that in order to conduct such an operation, the FBI would have to obtain a warrant from a judge, show that there was probable cause for the commission of a crime, and almost certainly set a higher-than-usual bar within both the Justice Department and the Justice Department had to meet court because the target of the search was a former president. They were also aware that there was a clear pattern of document destruction in the final days of the Trump administration and that credible reports indicated that Trump regularly destroyed documents he was required by law to retain, sometimes by using the flushed down the toilet.

“While the revelation that he condemned generals for not being as loyal to him as Hitler’s generals were to the Nazi leader grabbed most of the headlines, Trump’s problems with military leadership ran much deeper.”

They knew all this, but they still complained because their playbook in situations like this is to distract and project. Facts be damned. So we’ve had statements like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy warning Attorney General Garland to “preserve documents” and prepare an investigation into how he had politicized the Justice Department — an exquisite double-deal of simultaneous projection and distraction.

Similarly, the clamor about politicizing the FBI and Justice Department has been equal parts cynicism and hypocrisy. After all, Trump ran for office and called for an FBI investigation into the handling of his opponent Hillary Clinton’s classified information. (The “lock her up” chant was a mainstay of Trump’s campaign rallies in 2016.) And as president, Trump sought to blackmail a foreign power by misusing US government resources to smear his closest opponent , Joe Biden, to dig up. and Biden’s family. In other words, Trump and his party were the ones who politicized the administration of justice by conducting largely unfounded investigations.

Perhaps most significant is the gross irresponsibility of Trump’s GOP defense — their complete renunciation of any claim they once had to be a strong US national security party.

Trump has been a multifaceted threat to national security since his arrival on the national stage.

President Donald Trump and Russia’s Secretary of State Sergei Lavrov shake hands in the Oval Office of the White House May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC, United States.

Press Office of the Russian Foreign Minister/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It is an undeniable fact that he turned to a foreign enemy to help him win the 2016 election. He jeopardized US national security by appointing a national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, about whose foreign ties he had been warned and would only serve a few days and later lie to the FBI. Trump again threatened our security when he provided classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an infamous Oval Office meeting in the spring of 2017. He did so again, enforcing releases for members of his family, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared, who career officials said should not be obtained. Then there were Trump’s confidential talks with Vladimir Putin and his casual discussion of classified information at parties in Mar-a-Lago – a fact that made it a target for foreign espionage operations. And he appointed unskilled political hackers, sometimes illegally, to top positions in national security, including at the top of the intelligence community.

Furthermore, as Glasser and Baker’s reporting once again confirms, Trump’s relationship with military leaders was strained – because his ideas were so dangerous to US interests.

While the revelation that he condemned generals for not being as loyal to him as Hitler’s generals were to the Nazi leader grabbed most of the headlines, Trump’s problems with military leadership ran much deeper.

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley listens as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a meeting with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC October 7, 2019.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

That New Yorker The article describes how General Mark Milley — a man who has regularly feuded with Trump over his desire to use the military to achieve domestic political ends — almost resigned instead of continuing to grapple with a rogue president. But other accounts – like those found in former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s book and those collected while I was researching for my forthcoming book American Resistance– Note that national security risks include dangerous ideas like pledging to leave NATO during his second term, contemplating rocket attacks on approaching “caravans” in Mexico, looming a war with North Korea, and contemplating deploying the military to… Conquering the elections involved machines during his coup attempt.

Fortunately, as Glasser and Baker note, “Trump’s generals” rejected his dangerous ideas as adamantly as they did his imitation of the Third Reich.

Once again, the US government’s professional experts served as the public’s last line of defense against a rogue president as National Archives officials launched an investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified information. They put the law and their oath to the Constitution first. That’s why Trump and other GOP leaders are so committed to a plan that would make it easier to fire such officials should they regain power.

Why? Precisely because their goal is to politicize the entire government, to put party loyalty before loyalty to the country, to do exactly what they dishonestly claim is happening today.

This is a step toward authoritarianism and a step away from a system of government where no one is above the law — our current system, which we saw in action in Florida this week. But it’s even worse when those who would lead such a gutted autocratic state are known, like Trump, to pose the greatest national security risk. It would be bad enough to see democracy fall. But if it fell on Trump, an inevitable consequence would be that the US would grow weaker, our enemies would grow stronger, and the danger to every single American would grow, both from within and without.

This is exactly why we should shut down the GOP’s cheap political theater. And we have to hope that this week’s lawful search of Mar-a-Lago is just the tip of the iceberg in uncovering his crimes and holding him accountable for them.

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