Of course, amid Friday afternoon’s media frenzy over the release of the Justice Department’s search warrant and inventory of what was taken by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump released a statement saying “everything has been declassified.”

According to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the classified treasure removed from Trump’s Florida mansion on Monday included 11 sets of documents, “some marked as ‘classified/TD/SCI’ – short for ‘top/secret/sensitive’. compartmentalized information. »

As soon as news of the FBI raid broke, Republican supporters said it was a political witch hunt. With no confirmed information on what the agents were looking for, they began to impute the most corrupt motives possible to these officials. Just like before the Jan. 6 insurgency, Trump and the right-wing media hyped up the infantry, with predictable results. On Thursday morning, a man later identified as 42-year-old Ricky W. Shiffer showed up at the FBI’s Cincinnati field office with a nail gun and an AR-15-style rifle. After firing the nail gun in an attempt to break into the FBI office, he left, and a police chase ensued, followed by a six-hour standoff, which ended in Shiffer’s death. by the police after the failure of less lethal strategies.

Shifter was reportedly part of the crowd at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. He was locked up and charged. Even now, more than 18 months after Trump took a knee on Biden’s transition and led a multipronged attack on the peaceful transition of power, his supporters are making the former president a victim. They also go to great lengths to foster US distrust of institutions, including the Justice Department, FBI, and IRS.

“The FBI raid on President Trump’s personal residence is unprecedented and raises a number of concerns about the power of the ruling party to investigate its political opponents,” wrote Bob Hugin, President of the New Jersey Republican State. Committee. “This week alone, Democrats here in New Jersey voted to fund 87,000 new IRS agents. Make no mistake: This robust new agency will harass small business owners, political opponents, and law-abiding Americans. It is more essential than ever. to elect a Republican Congress in November to end one-party rule.”

How did we get to this nadir, where the DOJ has to go to a judge to sign a warrant so the FBI can search the residence of a former president? I remember that hot July night in Cleveland, during the 2016 Republican National Convention, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie launched an ad hominem attack on Hillary Clinton, during which the delegates turned into a crowd crying, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

I was on the convention floor, at the edge of the stage, as Christie tossed the red meat to the vengeful crowd. I knew in that moment that America would never be the same again because the glue of the Republican Party that now held it together was an anger and a sense of grievance that Christie channeled as he played judge, jury and executioner, with the crowd howling like his Greek Chorus.

He savored it. In all my years covering political conventions, I had never heard a more incendiary speech.

Since then, Christie has attempted to step away from his persona as Trump’s ax man. But he told America that night in Cleveland that Trump was “not just a strong leader, but a caring, genuine, decent person.”

I was on the convention floor as Chris Christie tossed the red meat to the vengeful crowd. I knew in that moment that America would never be the same again.

“I am here tonight not only as Governor of New Jersey, but also as a friend of Donald Trump for 14 years,” he said. Christie was an early promoter of Trump’s candidacy, and as former president of the Republican Governors Association, he gave Trump some legitimacy to offset his thin political resume.

Christie suggested that since the Justice Department under Barack Obama had refused to prosecute Clinton, he would use his speech to allow the American people to be “a jury of their peers, both in this room and in the parlors of our country”, in order to “hold her accountable for her performance and character”.

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He took the Obama administration’s policy choices, executed by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, threw in the supposed question of how she handled her work emails, then pressed the extractor button on juice from his rhetorical mixer.

He went on to blame Clinton for the status of every global hotspot. Just as Trump would with his attack on the integrity of election officials, Christie, himself a former Justice Department employee, sought to undermine the legitimacy of the DOJ for not prosecuting Clinton.

This was Strongman 101: Your institutions are rotten, only the junta will manifest your will!

“Since the Department of Justice refuses to allow you to render a verdict, let us now present the case, on the facts, against Hillary Clinton,” Christie said. “She was the head of American diplomacy. Look around you at the violence and danger in our world today. Every region of the world has been infected by her misjudgment.”

Rereading that speech offers real ironies, in light of how Trump actually governed as president. Christie slammed Clinton for being lenient with Vladimir Putin by “going to the Kremlin on her very first visit” and giving her “the symbolic reset button. The button should have said ‘delete’. She’s very good for that, because it removed in four years what took 40 years to build.”

In the years since Christie’s recommendation, Trump pitted blue states against red states, dividing a nation as it faced a once-in-a-century mass death event and badly needed cohesion. And when weary voters overwhelmingly rejected him, he obstructed the orderly transition of power and plotted a multifaceted insurgency to derail the peaceful transition of power.

And as we saw on January 6, 2021, this particular strain of right-thinking Republican politics, which Christie’s speech in 2016 helped spawn, is capable of taking over the US Capitol and building a gallows. Now, as the justice system finally tries to hold Trump accountable, Republican members of Congress are openly calling to “defund the FBI.”

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