Trump will keep fighting to the end — and Mar-a-Lago won't change that

Don't expect Trump to back down: A lengthy career of criminality and litigation has prepared him for this war

By Gregg Barak

Contributing Writer

Published August 26, 2022 6:00AM (EDT)

Supporters of former US President Donald Trump drive around the US District Courthouse for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida on August 18, 2022. (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of former US President Donald Trump drive around the US District Courthouse for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida on August 18, 2022. (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

As the machinery of justice slowly grinds closer to Donald Trump, the Trump Organization and the former president's criminal enterprise for a smorgasbord of possible charges — criminal fraud, defrauding the United States, espionage, falsification of business records, interfering with an official proceeding, insurrection, obstruction of justice, racketeering, seditious conspiracy, solicitation to commit election fraud, tax evasion, wire fraud and more — nobody has ever been as well prepared as the weaponizer-in-chief to do battle with the state and its agents of crime control, especially in the court of public opinion.

Trump filed a largely incoherent lawsuit on Monday seeking the appointment of a "special master" to "review and return evidence collected during last week's FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate." Trump had presaged this on his Truth Social platform last Friday: "A major motion pending to the Fourth Amendment will soon be filed concerning the illegal break-in of my home … right before the ever-important Mid-Term Elections." 

The legal arguments in that lawsuit were so poorly developed, however, that District Court Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida "ordered Trump's lawyers to elaborate on their arguments for why the court has the ability to step in at this time, explain what exactly Trump is asking for and whether the Justice Department has been served with Trump's special master motion." Their responses are due back to Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee, by the end of this week.

Throughout Trump's professional career he has always been at war with legal standards and normative rules, which he regards as made to be broken or avoided at all costs. His lifetime of adjudication is found in a lengthy background of litigation accompanied by a pathological pattern of lying. 

As someone who has been involved in more than 4,000 legal battles going back to 1973, Trump loves litigation as much as his cans of Diet Coke and boxes of fast food. As a real estate developer, entrepreneur, entertainer and politician, Trump boasted in 2015 — when he was merely the frontrunner for the GOP nomination — "I've taken advantage of the laws. And frankly, so has everybody else in my position." 

As a defendant, Trump has been sued for race and sex discrimination, sexual harassment and fraud. He has also been sued for breaches of trust, money laundering, defamation, stiffing his creditors and defaulting on loans. 

What Trump has successfully learned over five decades of lawlessness and impunity is that the best defense against any opponent is a strong offense. Ergo, Trump has sued others for fraud, for breach of trust, for breach of contract, for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, for government favoritism, for libel and for misappropriation or adulteration of the brand name "Trump."

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Since the FBI carried out its now-legendary search of Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, the ex-president and his allies have stepped up their attacks on both the FBI and the Department of Justice, seeking to demonize them as arms of a "'woke' Democratic deep state mob." Some of Trump's more shameless allies have gone so far as to call for "defunding" the FBI, something no Republican of an earlier era could even have imagined.

Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart arguably bent a little to the intense pushback by Trump and company, and instructed the Justice Department to redact the affidavit for the search warrant "in a way that would not undermine its investigation if made public." Now that the DOJ has complied, Reinhart has ordered that the redacted affidavit be released and shared with the public by 12 noon Eastern time on Friday.

I can state with a high degree of certainty that the redacted affidavit we may see on Friday will reveal nothing of legal substance: To do otherwise would jeopardize the investigation.

I can state with a high degree of certainty that the redacted affidavit delivered to Judge Reinhart on Thursday revealed nothing of legal substance: To do otherwise would jeopardize the investigation and the future cooperation of witnesses. I suspect we will learn little if anything that we didn't know before, except perhaps a bit more about the timeline and the degree of stalling engaged in by the former president and his cronies. 

This outcome will not ameliorate the problem. Indeed, it will only exacerbate the situation. It's a genuine "damned if you do, damned if you don't" conundrum, because to Trump and his allies it will appear that the DOJ got its way and that Judge Reinhard sided with the FBI.

Regardless of the merits of the DOJ's position and Reinhart's decision, Trump and his conspirators as well as the Trumpian propagandists at Fox News, et al., will, as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post puts it, "seize on the redactions as 'evidence' that the 'real rationale' for the search is being covered up — and that the entire process is irredeemably illegitimate." 

Whether or not the issue of redaction that will surely not be resolved here and now is further appealed by Trump, the weaponizer-in-chief and his gang of conspirators will not only have their talking points about the Democratic regime's totalitarian oppression and persecution of Trump, but will also claim to find "conclusive proof" that the search of Mar-a-Lago could not have been justified by any reasonable suspicions of wrongdoing.  

Worse yet for the rule of law and justice, all these bogus excuses and cover-ups — the ones concocted by Boss Trump and his compadres — will be crafted into a narrative in which all the law enforcement agencies pursuing Trump are at least as corrupt and illegitimate as he is.

By Gregg Barak

Gregg Barak is an emeritus professor of criminology and criminal justice at Eastern Michigan University, and the author of multiple award-winning books on the crimes of the powerful including Criminology on Trump (2022) whose sequel, Indicting the 45th President: Boss Trump, the GOP, and What We can Do About the Threat to American Democracy will be published April 1, 2024. 



MORE FROM Gregg Barak

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Affidavit Analysis Crime Donald Trump Fbi Law Mar-a-lago Prosecution