Does the FBI Raid of Mar-a-Lago Suggest Trump’s Accountability is Possible?

Interview with Amanda Marcotte, a senior politics writer at Salon and author of the book, Troll Nation, conducted by Scott Harris

In an unprecedented move, the FBI conducted a raid of former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence at the Mar-a-Lago resort on Aug. 8. Trump announced the raid himself and mentioned how FBI agents had broken open a safe. According to news reports, the search of Trump’s West Palm Beach home appeared to be focused on documents that Trump had taken out of the White House  when he left the presidency on Jan. 20 last year. Earlier reports said boxes Trump had taken with him to Florida in violation of the Presidential Records Act contained many pages of classified documents that were sought by officials of the National Archives.

The FBI obtained a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago from a federal magistrate judge in West Palm Beach and was likely triggered by the suspected presence of government records at the resort, which is a potential felony. Commenting on the raid, a former acting U.S. solicitor general said that this search makes it likely that Trump is the target of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department. In response to the FBI raid, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of politically weaponizing the Justice Department and vowed an investigation if the GOP should win control of the House in November.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Amanda Marcotte, a senior politics writer at, and author who discusses the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s residence and what it could signal about the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the former president.

AMANDA MARCOTTE: Well, I share a lot of people’s skepticism that we’re ever gonna see anything resembling real accountability for Trump.

That said, I have to point out that his statement that he released was extremely panicky. It was nonsense and it had every indication of someone trying to get ahead of the narrative because they have no other options, right? He’s trying to own this narrative. He’s trying to get out there in front of it and get all of his followers on board before any real information is out so that when real information comes out, it doesn’t penetrate their fixed goals, right? So I, I think this, this is not the behavior of somebody who thinks they have a lot of cards to play. This is a behavior of somebody who has a pair of deuces and that’s it. So that’s the cards they’re going with, not a great hand. So I’m excited about that. His behavior is making me feel like they must have something real.

SCOTT HARRIS: I was talking with somebody earlier tonight just for a moment. And you know, we’re talking about how much paperwork and documents Trump could have burned in the intervening 19 months since the coup attempt. That’s a lot of time to burn your documents and clear out your phones in your email. But, you know, the fact is we don’t need documents. We’ve saw it live on TV, damn it, what are we waiting for? It’s absurd that this guy — not just him, but this whole group of coup plotters — are not in prison.

If this happened in any other country, we’d say the rule of law is dead in that country.

AMANDA MARCOTTE: Yeah. No, it’s really frustrating. And the deliberate pace has been frustrating to the point of making me wonder — and still I wonder — if the DOJ just wanted to wash their hands of this whole thing and the Jan. 6th Committee’s been making that impossible. I really hope that’s not the case, but the timing does not look great for the DOJ on this.

And I recognize that they hate having to prosecute people when it’s hard, I get it. And it’s gonna be hard and it’s gonna be hard. The problem is more evidence doesn’t make it less hard because the problem is not the amount of evidence. As you said, we saw him do it on live television. Everyone knows he’s guilty. His supporters know he is guilty. His detractors know he’s guilty. Everyone knows that.

The only question is or not you can seed a jury of 12 people that thinks that no man should be above the law. That is the beginning and end of that story. And I think that that’s their fear. And they’re clinging to this hope that more evidence might be the key here, because right now they’ve been backed into a corner by the Jan. 6th Committee. That’s like made it very clear that not prosecuting Trump is sending a signal that says, actually, yes, you’re above the law if you amass a certain amount of political power.

SCOTT HARRIS: We hear a lot of commentators talk about the decision the Department of Justice will have to make in terms of prosecuting Trump or not. And one of the issues that they will have to grapple with, we’re told, is whether the violence that may be provoked by such an indictment of Trump by his supporters across the country will destabilize the nation to such a point that such a prosecution is dangerous in and of itself. How do you respond to that type of thinking?

AMANDA MARCOTTE: First of all, don’t negotiate with terrorists. If we let threats of violence keep us from doing justice, pursuing justice, then they will just realize that threats of violence work. And they’re going to use that more and more and more often in order to get their way. So do not reward violence by giving into it. Just don’t.

Second of all, I think that anyone who says that is not noticing that we already have this extreme and escalating political violence problem. I mean, it looks like there’s a serial killer in New Mexico, killing Muslim men. Obviously the Jan. 6th riot, you know, the Proud Boys continue to go out there mixing it up. Like they came here to Philadelphia and got run out of town.

But you know, there are incidents going on. There’s threats going on, and if they are allowed to feel like this works, they’re gonna do it more. The only way that we discourage violence is by showing that there are consequences for it.

So I just don’t buy that logic at all.

For more information, visit Amanda Marcotte’s Authors Page at

Listen to Scott Harris’ in-depth interview with Amanda Marcotte (16:38) and see more articles and opinion pieces in the Related Links section of this page.

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