The Grinding Wheels Of Justice

August 12th, 2022 by Tom Lynch


To paraphrase 2nd century philosopher Sextus Empiricus, the wheels of justice grind slow, but they grind fine.

This afternoon, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post all reported gaining access to the search warrant the FBI executed on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Monday. Shortly afterwards, the Trump team agreed to the release of the search warrant. Following that, the warrant was officially unsealed.  According to the Times:

A list of documents removed from former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, includes materials marked as top secret and meant to be viewed only in secure government facilities, according to a copy of the warrant reviewed by The New York Times.

Federal agents who executed the warrant did so to investigate potential crimes associated with violations of the Espionage Act, which outlaws the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary; a federal law that makes it a crime to destroy or conceal a document to obstruct a government investigation; and another statute associated with unlawful removal of government materials.

What can we now expect from Donald Trump, Republican leaders, rank and file legislators and the rest of the MAGA universe? For one thing, we can hope Republican influencers will do their best to tamp down the heat, because up till now language has been pizza oven hot and dangerous.

Extremism researcher Caroline Orr Bueno, PhD, has compiled a collage of vituperation, tweets from MAGA extremists calling for violence following the FBI search.  Trump’s supporters (a kind word) call it a “raid,” with its implied breaking-down-the-door routine, sort of like what happened to Breonna Taylor.

Yesterday, the irresponsible and incendiary reactions of the Trump cultists claimed a life. Forty-two-year-old Ricky Walter Shiffer, who is reported to have been at the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, shot into the FBI field office in Cincinnati with a nail gun yesterday morning while brandishing an AR-15-style weapon and wearing body armor. After the attack, he fled, chased by law enforcement, and lost his life in a shootout in an Ohio cornfield. Don’t spend a lot of time waiting for those who egged him on with their rants about the end of life as we know it to apologize, or even utter a word of remorse.

We have come to the point where anyone who criticizes Donald Trump, or anything MAGA, can expect a tsunami of threats to life and limb. As Paul Miller reported in The Dispatch:

Death threats have surged across the country. As terrorists realize death threats work, they are using them more often—including against Republicans who voted for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package. Death threats to congressmen doubled by May of last year, compared to the year before. “These are not one-off incidents,” according to Vox, “Surveys have found that 17 percent of America’s local election officials and nearly 12 percent of its public health workforce have been threatened due to their jobs during the 2020 election cycle and Covid-19 pandemic.” Reuters tracked more than 850 individual threats against local election workers by Trump supporters last year, up from essentially zero in previous elections.

The Mar-a-Lago search put an arc light on violent and dehumanizing political speech, but, as Miller notes, it has been lurking in the background all along. Examples in the past year include Jarome Bell, a Republican running for Congress in Virginia, who tweeted a call to put to death anyone convicted of voter fraud: “Arrest all involved. Try all involved. Convict all involved. Execute all involved.” Wendy Rogers, a far-right state senator in Arizona, told a white nationalist convention in Florida that “we need to build more gallows” to handle “traitors.” Ms. Rogers, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, was still at it last night, sending emails around America calling for the defunding of the FBI, the IRS and the DOJ. And she ended by asking people to send more money vitally necessary for her to carry on the fight.

Now, with the release of the search warrant, perhaps the adults in the room, presuming there are any, will exercise the control needed to cool the ridiculous rhetoric, if that is even possible. It is apparent Attorney General Garland and the Department he leads will continue to follow the evidence in the matter of Donald Trump like a red rope in the snow, wherever it leads.

There can be no doubt any longer that, regardless of what Trump’s cult-like followers say, do, scream, or suggest, the wheels of justice are grinding fine, as the US Constitution means them to.

My only questions today are: When will we we see the rats deserting the ship, and what kind of life preservers will they be wearing?