Ryan J. Rusak: Don’t bet on Trump or the FBI | Columnists

Ryan J. Rusak Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Supporters quickly retreated to their corners late Monday when news broke that the FBI had raided the Florida home of former President Donald Trump.

Republicans – including many elected officials in Texas – and far-right commentators have said the United States is a banana republic, where the ruling regime imposes law enforcement on its political enemies. On the left, there was joy that Trump was surely headed for jail, even though few knew exactly what the federal agents were looking for or why.

Given the history of the FBI and Trump, the smartest reaction is to wait and see.

Federal law enforcement hasn’t covered itself in glory lately. Politics seemed to permeate the handling of accusations that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia, particularly the gullibility (or convenience) that prompted officials to buy into the ridiculous Steele dossier.

More recently, the Justice Department swallowed specious charges of “domestic terrorism” to press for an investigation into parents with the temerity to speak to their local elected officials about the running of the school.

Even the handling of gym doctor Larry Nasser’s despicable sexual abuse has caused outrage.

Leftists seem to have forgotten their anger at the end of the 2016 campaign, when FBI Director James Comey briefly reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s classified emails. When she narrowly lost to Trump, many blamed Comey. So the FBI is irreproachable?

So, no, don’t automatically assume that the FBI told the whole truth to get a judge’s permission to search Trump. Wait for receipts.

Yet it is Trump. It is absurd to think that the only possible explanation for the raid is politics.

For many Trump supporters, no amount of paperwork will penetrate their fog on the man. They see no guilt for him in the January 6 riot. Evidence that he should have known the 2020 election results were legitimate, that he seemed okay with the assault on the Capitol, that insurgency planners took his words as instructions — all of that is just “hatred of Trump”.

They can’t acknowledge that Trump’s character and narcissism caused him to ignore the rules all his life, so it’s not entirely implausible that he broke federal laws without breaking a sweat.

Early reports suggest the basis of Monday’s raid was classified documents that should have gone to the National Archives, not Trump’s private collection. If that’s the scope of it, there are serious questions as to whether that’s an appropriate answer.

But if it’s going to prove he committed a crime in the Jan. 6 case, there better be a mountain of evidence for probable cause — and the American people need to see it as soon as possible.

It’s not about the fact that he’s a former president; is that he is the main candidate to oppose the current president (or his party’s candidate) in the next election. The bar should be set high, near impossible, for law enforcement investigating a political enemy of the current administration.

In 2011, federal agents raided the home of longtime Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. They dug up all sorts of evidence, including more than $200,000 in cash, an impressive figure for a career civil servant to accumulate. Political observers who had raised eyebrows at Price’s wealth nodded knowingly, and a bribery conviction seemed certain.

Six years later, Price was acquitted (with some charges thrown out when jurors could not agree). This case surely attracted a fraction of the federal resources that any Trump case would have. And yet, the FBI couldn’t get their man.

Keep that in mind before sizing up Trump for an orange jumpsuit.

Ryan J. Rusak is opinion writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.