Commentary: The search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound, as seen through the eyes of a veteran FBI agent

Frank Montoya Jr., New York Daily News on

Published in Political News

Let me start by stating the obvious.

The execution of a federal search warrant at the residence of a former U.S. president is more than an extraordinary occurrence.

Fact is, things like that just don’t happen.

Pick a presidential scandal in our history —Teapot Dome, Watergate, Iran-Contra or Whitewater. It just doesn’t happen. Not until Monday, anyway, when a host of FBI special agents, lawful warrant in hand, rewrote the history books forever.

Now, let me tell you why the FBI search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Monday is such a big deal.

The former president of the United States is suspected of committing a crime. As obvious as that may seem given all that has transpired over the past seven years — yes, you would be spot on for thinking “duh” — the fact of the matter is that, as a nation of laws, we’ve never had a president who has been so antipathetic towards them.


Still, while no one, not even a former president, is above the law, the presumption of innocence is an important tenet of American jurisprudence. We, all of us, even corrupt former presidents, are afforded the rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution when it comes to things like searches and seizures, protections against self-incrimination, and the right to trial by jury.

Two centuries of justice under a constitutionally established rule of law ensures that.

Which is why the criticisms coming from the supporters rushing to the former president’s defense in the wake of the search make no sense. Those supporters, many of whom are lawyers, know what due process and the rules of evidence are. They claim to be well-versed in the Bill of Rights. What’s more, their phony outrage directly undermines that long tradition of American jurisprudence.

The FBI executes search warrants all the time. Contrary to the fearmongers and conspiracy theorists amongst us, they are not political acts. Not even when directed against a politician. The reason for their use is simple and straightforward — to find evidence of a crime.


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