Justice Department should have subpoenaed documents, not raided Trump’s homeDershowitz is a legal scholar and Harvard graduate.
The decision by the Justice Department to conduct a full-scale morning raid on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home does not seem justified, based on what we know as of now. If it is true that the basis of the raid was the former president’s alleged removal of classified material from the White House, that would constitute a double standard of justice.
There were no raids, for example, on the homes of Hillary Clinton or former Clinton administration national security adviser Sandy Berger for comparable allegations of mishandling official records in the recent past. Previous violations of the Presidential Records Act typically have been punished by administrative fines, not criminal prosecution. Perhaps there are legitimate reasons for applying a different standard to Trump’s conduct, but those are not readily obvious at this stage.
The more appropriate action would have been for a grand jury to issue a subpoena for any boxes of material that were seized and for Trump’s private safe that was opened. That would have given Trump’s lawyers the opportunity to challenge the subpoena on various grounds — that some of the material was not classified; that previous classified material was declassified by Trump; that other documents may be covered by various privileges, such as executive or lawyer-client.
Instead, the FBI apparently seized everything in view and will sort the documents and other material without a court deciding which ones are appropriately subject to Justice Department seizure.
For zealous Trump haters, anything done to Trump is justified. For zealous Trump lovers, nothing done to him is ever justified. For the majority of moderate, thoughtful Americans, however, the Justice Department’s raid likely seems — at least at this point in time — to be unjust or needlessly confrontational.