Coming In Fifth

“The truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

“The only reason to plead the Fifth is if you’re guilty.” Trump 0:yes.

440 times, did Trump so plead. Though contradicting himself mid-sentence has been a signature move since he first deescalated into politics, he decided to defend this particular flop of a flip, unfurling the familiar witch hunt metonymy. Funny: armed with truth, witch hunts should be the perfect forum for fighting injustice with it. But his truth wouldn’t have been freeing. No mystery there.

There is mystery surrounding those documents lounging at Mar-a-Lago. Why did he take them? Why had his lawyer sworn they’d been returned? Did Trump bleat that the FBI would plant evidence because he knew they’d find incriminating stuff? It’s reported he watched on the same CCTV on which the DOJ had previously observed people carrying boxes into and out of the unsecured room; which is why they’re fingerprinting the documents. Lacking standable legs, Foxotrumpists attacked the FBI and lied about the judge who approved the warrant. Leading, Trumpistly, to death threats.

Contradicting his planted documents claim, Trump announced he’d sprinkled magic declassification dust on them. It doesn’t work that way, but okay. Let’s see them. How do you spell FOIA?

Lying with no consequences to adoring millions who never question or demand accountability makes a person careless. As craven cohorts contrive to condone it, there’s no denying Trump broke a law he’d signed, lied about President Obama doing the same, flung excuses like a misaligned pitching machine, hoping for a strikeout. But documents were there, labeled top secret. Spin on it.

The preposterous pretext prize goes to “He takes work home.” The guy who, per multiple sources, was disinterested in security briefings unless they were reduced to pictures, who watched TV past midnight, did homework. (Brooklyn Bridge.) Less amusing possibilities: passing secrets to Putin and MBS as payment for electoral help and billions in cash. Blackmailing the French government. Showing it to his paramours? We may never know, but nothing in Trump’s past takes anything off the table; in fact, his lifetime of multiply-investigated business practices, lawsuits, and purported associations with Russian mobsters put it snugly in the credible column. Russian TV implied secrets are already in Putin’s hands.

Impossible? Recall that, even as the half-Obama’s-size crowd was demobilizing from his inauguration, Trump shared secrets with Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office, causing the CIA to extract a deep-cover agent from Russia.

Darker in its implications for our country than Trump’s potential harm is how the right (or, more properly, the wrong) slavishly defends it. The crazies calling for killing FBI agents on sight; one giving it a prehumous try. The no less bedumbed, in and out of Congress, demanding to defund the agency. (Oh, Irony, you crafty jokester!) Government overreach, they call it; political tyranny, despite the fact that, prior to executing the warrant, they’d requested the documents, been lied to about them, even subpoenaed them, to no avail.

Possible crimes against America require investigation. Surely even America-loving Trumpists can agree. Imagine an employee found to have removed secrets from the Pentagon and taken them home. Of course law enforcement would investigate. Yet, while leaders remain silent or join in, Trumpublicans are calling for civil war over it. “The party of law and order” needs an update. How about “The party of lies, death threats, and encouraged violence”? (Insert BLM whataboutism here.)

Trumpists will never waver. But do no Republican leaders, other than Liz Cheney, who just lost her seat for the unforgivable sin of speaking truth to Republicans, have the courage to say enough is enough? Even at the risk of becoming yet another lie-rejector purged from the party, Stalinist Politburo-style? In the Trump era, to remain an elected Republican in good standing, one must accept and defend lies and crimes, no matter how debasing. How troubling for those who have remnants of conscience. If any there be.

Eric Trump is sure President Biden was behind the FBI search because when he was allowed off-leash in the White House he saw daddy ordering his Attorneys General around. By contrast, understanding and defending American democracy and the Constitution in ways Trump never has, nor ever will, here’s President Biden, swearing in Attorney General Merrick Garland: “… You aren’t the President or the Vice President’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation to guarantee justice.”

Trumpublicans find that impossible to comprehend. Meanwhile, as they scream, prevaricate, and eschew policy, President Biden and Democrats have been enacting legislation that benefits us all. Come November, don’t forget to remember.

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Sid Schwab

Retired surgeon. Published author. Blogger. Columnist. Losing hope that American democracy can survive Republican attempts to end it.