Trump seized classified documents – but for Republicans, the story is Hunter Biden’s laptop | Lawrence Douglas
IDuring a Friday appearance on Newsmax, the right-wing media site, Ron Johnson lambasted the FBI for not being aggressive enough in following up on evidence. Was the great patriotic Republican senator from Wisconsin angry that the FBI waited too long to search Mar-a-Lago for illegally hidden documents critical to US national security? Barely. What agitated Johnson was an alleged whistleblower’s complaint that the FBI failed to take “necessary investigative steps after receiving Hunter Biden’s laptop.”
Do you remember laptop-gate? The FBI received the laptop in 2020 from a computer repair shop owner who claimed the PC was left in his store but was never picked up by Hunter Biden. Analysts determined that much of the data was a “disaster” from a forensic perspective because the hard drive had clearly been accessed by people other than Biden’s son. Nevertheless, after exhaustive studies completed earlier this year, the New York Times and the Washington Post concluded that some of the documents recovered were genuine; and while it showed that Hunter had clearly tried to swap his father’s name, it did not indicate corruption on the part of Joe Biden.
For the likes of Senator Johnson, the laptop remains the hottest story. Unworthy of the senator’s attention was the release of the redacted affidavit which stated that former President Trump, in defiance of a subpoena, refused to turn over documents which had the highest security classification and included presumably the names of US intelligence assets overseas. There was a time when Republican lawmakers took dangerous security breaches seriously. But that was when Republican lawmakers also recognized the possibility of electoral defeat after a fair vote.
Senator Johnson was not alone in his particular priorities. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the ‘raid’ on Mar-a-Lago ‘a further escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden are treated with the gloved hand. kid”. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also joined in the attack. And while Senator Johnson has yet to join Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar in their calls to “defund the FBI,” the Wisconsin senator insists the handling of the laptop case demonstrates “corruption.” from the FBI; the office, he concludes, is “not trustworthy”.
If we struggle to characterize the relentless efforts of those like Johnson, who defend Trump through systematic misdirection and by attacking the integrity of American law enforcement institutions, President Biden himself has provided a useful term. – “semi-fascism”. In a speech last Thursday, the president rightly called the “Maga Republicans” a “threat to our very democracy.”
The rise of semi-fascism within the Republican Party underscores the exceptional risks of indicting Trump and bringing him to justice. That some form of indictment will soon follow now seems increasingly likely. The redacted affidavit reveals that by hoarding and refusing to turn over government documents, Trump may have violated three separate federal criminal statutes, which carry penalties ranging from three to 20 years in prison. And this investigation has nothing to do with the criminal fraud investigation in Manhattan; the investigation into election interference in Georgia; and the Justice Department’s review of the election tampering scheme that culminated in the January 6 violence.
While many are no doubt looking forward to Trump’s legal judgment day, fear is the most appropriate response. When even a Maga-lite lawmaker like Florida Senator Marco Rubio contradicts the president’s assertion of authoritarian tensions within the Republican Party by declaring in a coy voice, “If you’re looking for authoritarianism, look no further than happened under the watch of Anthony Fauci and his allies in the elite establishment,” we know that any future indictments will be met with hysterical and violent attacks on the integrity of the American justice system.
And yet, the cost of inaction is even greater than the cost of action against Trump. A failure to indict born out of fear of the political risks of doing so suggests that Trump and the semi-fascists have already successfully twisted the rule of law in America. Holding Trump to legal account may not succeed; this can trigger civil unrest and work in his favor. But it can also begin a long and painful process of removing the poison of maga authoritarianism from our body politic.
Those who cherish democracy must speak out against the proto-fascist tendencies now gripping the Trump-occupied Republican Party.
Lawrence Douglas is the author, most recently, of Will He Go? Trump and the impending election collapse in 2020. He is an opinion writer for the US Guardian and teaches at Amherst College