The FBI’s dangerous Trump search

The FBI’s dangerous Trump search. By The Wall St Journal editorial board.

Monday’s unannounced Federal Bureau of Investigation search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home isn’t a moment for anyone to cheer.

The Justice Department is unleashing political furies it can’t control and may not understand

With control of the intuitions, the left can find easily Trump guilty of some trumped-up charge, which disqualifies him from becoming president agsin. Will they dare?

Multiple media reports suggest that Justice has opened a grand jury probe into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and Mr. Trump may be a target of that investigation. The House committee investigating Jan. 6 has been cheering for a prosecution, and the political and media pressure is intense on Attorney-General Merrick Garland to indict Mr. Trump. The FBI search may be a fishing expedition to find evidence related to Jan. 6.

On the public evidence so far, a Jan. 6 indictment would be a legal stretch. Political responsibility isn’t the same as criminal liability. In our view, the evidence would have to show that Mr. Trump was criminally complicit in that day’s violence at the Capitol. …

Given its inherently political nature, the burden of proof is especially high for indicting a former President, all the more so for an Administration of the opposition party. The evidence had better be overwhelming — not merely enough to convince a 12-person jury in the District of Columbia, but enough to convince a majority of the American public.

Millions of his supporters will see this as vindication of his charges against the “deep state,” and who knows how they will respond. …

Worse in the long term is the precedent being set and the payback it is likely to inspire. Once the Rubicon of prosecuting a former President has been crossed — especially if the alleged offence and evidence are less than compelling — every future President will be a target. …

All of this risks compounding the baleful pattern of the last six years. Mr. Trump is accused of violating political norms — sometimes fairly, sometimes not — and the left violates norms in response. Polarisation increases, and public faith in institutions and the peaceful settlement of political difference erodes further.

Caesar crossing the Rubicon River in 49 BC, on this was to seizing power and becoming dictator, thus ending the Roman Republic: