Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, almost certainly knows the important and valid reasons the FBI has not released the affidavit underlying the application for the search warrant of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.
On today’s Cavuto Live show, host David Asman set up a Trump talking point when he asked, “Should we see that affidavit?”
Grassley also almost certainly knows there is no evidence the search warrant was unlawful or politically motivated but that didn’t stop him from suggesting otherwise. He did so with the latest MAGA distraction/legal-system-undermining tactic of calling for the release of the affidavit underlying the application for the warrant.
Once the Justice Department announced it wouldn’t stand in the way of releasing the search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, the president’s allies shifted tack, calling for the immediate release of more detailed information. That’s not likely to happen.
The Justice Department will want to keep an underlying affidavit for the warrant sealed to protect the investigation and any sources or classified information, former prosecutors said.
Such an affidavit typically features a narrative explaining not only what crimes are under investigation, but also how investigators have been gathering information to date, what evidence they already have, and how they believe any evidence seized at the property they want to search will build on that probe.
The New York Times and CBS News, along with other news organizations, have filed requests for access to all the documents, including any affidavits. But Grassley seemed more interested in casting aspersions on the DOJ than in getting at that information.
“Garland goes on television because he wants to be transparent. Full transparency is going to be when they release the affidavit,” Grassley said. By not explaining why the affidavit has not been released, Grassley was not being fully transparent, himself.
Calling the search “a high profile and very strange way of going about getting documents from a former president,” Grassley added, “Without transparency, government is not accountable.”
Asman pivoted immediately to whataboutism. First, the Russia investigation: “There was evidence that was given to the FISA courts during the whole Russian collusion kerfuffle that was wrong, that was either misinformation or actually just not true,” Asman said. “It has been true that the FBI in the past has given bad information to judges in order to get a warrant, that’s another reason why we need to see this affidavit, right?”
He was referring to the Carter Page case. But Asman "forgot” to mention that the Page case led to reforms that, as Wired’s Garrett M. Graff explained, “would have made the Mar-a-Lago search warrant subject to even closer scrutiny—and ensured that the bar for probable cause would have been so high, the evidence so crystal clear, that it’s likely the Justice Department already feels it has enough information to bring criminal charges.”
Grassley said, “Carter Page, FISA, the Steele Dossier, how they handled the Clinton investigation and how there was no prosecution there and there was mishandling of classified information, just like the same charge against President Trump, and so just figure the double standard that we have within the FBI over a long period of time, not just under Christopher Wray.”
Also not mentioned was that Wray was appointed FBI Director by Trump. Nor that the Hillary Clinton investigation also made it more likely the evidence for the search warrant was rock solid. More from Graff:
If this was about some run-of-the-mill classified documents accidentally swept up in the president’s hasty exit from the White House, surely the FBI wouldn’t care. Likewise, if these documents weren’t really that sensitive—as it turned out with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 email scandal—it’s hard to imagine the Justice Department going to these lengths.
Ironically (again), the Justice Department’s 2016 decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her sloppy handling of classified materials as secretary of state raises the bar for any prosecution stemming from Trump’s handling of classified documents. DOJ prosecutors are heavily driven by precedent and similar past cases, which means that in order to pursue this Trump investigation, there would have to be more serious (and criminal) concerns than there were in the investigation of Clinton.
The thing is, Grassley must know all this. Yet, he not only claimed the search “looks very political,” he also latched on to some Hunter Biden whataboutism. “We have evidence coming from whistleblowers within the Department of Justice about political bias about Hunter Biden’s investigation being stopped and Trump’s investigation getting the go ahead from a guy, that special agent, that had political bias. We know it from his social media,” Grassley said.
Even assuming Grassley is correct about this, the Hunter Biden case has no bearing on Trump’s.
It's a safe bet that Grassley knows there’s a lot of damning national security smoke surrounding Trump. He could have merely urged caution and restraint while we wait for the full facts to come out. The fact that he isn't, that the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with the Murdochs' so-called news organization, is trying to distract from and downplay a potential national security conflagration is very, very disturbing.
You can watch Grassley put MAGA politics over country, the rule of law and quite possibly national security below, from the August 13, 2022 Cavuto Live.
1. The FBI search and seizure at the compound of Pence’s childish former spokesman was more than justified by multiple factors – including the fact that they retrieved extremely sensitive materials that should never have left a secure compartment and including the fact that the attorneys for Pence’s childish former spokesman had lied about them. The FBI would not have submitted the warrant and the judge would not have granted it, had it not been clear that there was a serious issue here. Grassley knows this, but is hoping his viewers won’t. Put it another way – had this same search happened at Hillary Clinton’s home in 2019, Grassley would have steadfastly supported it. He just doesn’t like it because it’s politically inconvenient for him.
2. Carter Page was not and is not an innocent victim of anything. He tried to parlay himself with Russian contacts and puff himself into something he wasn’t, and the consequences for him were that US intelligence agents couldn’t afford to just dismiss him as the bumbler he is. If anything, Page’s matter is similar to that of Kristian Saucier – who bumbled his own way into trouble with the law and then tried in vain to convince everyone that somehow he was the one being oppressed. It is true that one of the agents involved in the Page investigation did something improper – and that agent was disciplined. But it did not change Page’s behavior, which triggered the investigation in the first place.
3. The Russia/Trump Campaign investigation by Mueller was no hoax. Multiple people were indicted, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to prison. Angry Right Wingers can jump up and down all they want about this, but the fact is that these people broke the law and were appropriately punished.
3. The Steele Dossier was originally being prepared by Fusion GPS for the American Free Beacon, a Far Far Right Wing propaganda outlet along the lines of Newsmax. AFB was trying to knock Trump out of the 2016 race but when he bullied everyone else out of the primaries, AFB retreated. Fusion GPS then went to some backers of Clinton and asked for money to finish their work. The backers agreed – Clinton didn’t know anything about it. And when the work was presented to the Clinton campaign, they chose not to use it during the campaign. So there was never a real story here. Again, angry Right Wingers can jump up and down if they like here, but it gets them nowhere.
4. The Clinton “investigation” was over whether her email server was somehow a giant issue. In terms of angry Right Wing propaganda, yes it was. In terms of any actual legal issues, it never was. The FBI concluded this was simply a matter that some emails had wound up on the server that should not have been there. Clinton herself was simply following the behavior of Colin Powell and others in having her own independent server. Angry Right Wingers like to spread the lie that somehow this server was hacked, but we’ve never seen any evidence of that. The only thing one could say about Clinton is that she was careless here – which is what James Comey did say. Clinton never took direct actions with this server to put classified materials on it – unlike Pence’s childish former spokesman, who directed his minions to pull secret materials from a secure area and take them to his personal resort.
5. Hunter Biden has yet to be shown to have committed anything approaching an intentional crime. It’s possible he didn’t pay ALL of his tax burden. It’s possible he improperly owned a gun while in rehab – but it’s also possible that he didn’t realize he could not have it, particularly since his license had not been revoked. And all the nonsense about Burisma only has shown that Biden obeyed the law there. The canard about the “laptop” has been shown to be a propaganda plant made by angry Right Wingers hoping to concoct an “October Surprise” in 2020 and failing badly. The actual contents of the “laptop” are hacked materials from Biden’s online storage and email account. (The crime there is the one committed by the guys who hacked Biden’s account and sold it to the highest bidder in 2019) The only reason angry Right Wingers keep bringing up Hunter Biden at this point is that they’re hoping the repetition of the falsehood will convince gullible listeners that it’s not false.