top of page

Espionage and Trump part 3 : Threats to FBI

This is about the Trumpublican backlash against the FBI

The warrant that authorized the search of former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago shows it was issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Aug. 5, 2022, at 12:12 p.m.—nearly three full days before the Justice Department and FBI conducted a raid to execute it.

The raid did not occur until the morning of Aug. 8, 2022, when federal agents from the FBI arrived at Mar-a-Lago to execute the search warrant.

The document, obtained and reviewed by Breitbart News, shows that the DOJ and FBI waited several days after Reinhart approved the warrant to conduct the raid, something that severely undercuts the talking points issued by Attorney General Merrick Garland in a public statement on Thursday when he broke his silence to discuss the matter in televised remarks.

Why the authorities waited several days to execute service of the warrant if the matter rose to such a serious national security issue is unclear. If what federal agents intended to obtain from the raid was such a risk to national security, the fact they decided to linger and wait for several days before executing is likely to become a major point of contention as this debate plays out in front of the public.

Garland announced in his public remarks on Thursday that the Department of Justice had moved to unseal the warrant and inventory list of documents obtained from the raid. Trump indicated in public statements on Thursday evening that he would support such a move and wants the documents out in public. It is expected these documents, including the warrant that has been reviewed by Breitbart News, will be made public by the court soon, later on Friday or in the coming days.

The documents obtained by Breitbart News include the warrant, two accompanying attachments specifying terms for the warrant, and a property receipt outlining the inventory federal agents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

UPDATE: 1:51 p.m. ET:

The inventory list of what was seized—or the receipt part of the document—is three pages long and constitutes two separate receipts, one that is two pages long and another that is one page long. Both receipts were signed by Trump’s attorney Christina Bobb and dated on Monday Aug. 8, 2022, at 6:19 p.m. The longer receipt was signed by FBI Special Agent Jeremy Linton and the shorter receipt was signed by the name: “I. Grady Gary” and includes the title SSA. SSA means Supervisory Special Agent. [NOTE: This part of this story has been updated after the correct spelling of Gary’s name, which was unclear from the handwriting on the document, has been confirmed.]

UPDATE 2:01 p.m. ET:

The first receipt lists out 28 numbered items, including some that have sub-headers. Some of the items are actually named like item number 1 which says it was an “Executive Grant of Clemency re: Roger Jason Stone, Jr.” or 1A which says it is “Info re: President of France.”

Others like item number 2 are less specific. That item says it is a “Leatherbound box of documents.” Item 2A says it contained “Various Classified/TS/SCI documents.”

Item number 3 says it was a “potential presidential record,” and items numbers 5 and 6 both say they were a “binder of photos.”

Item number 7 says it was a “handwritten note,” and items 8, 9, and 10 were boxes labeled A-1, A-12, and A-15 respectively. Item 10A specifies that that item allegedly contained “Miscellaneous Secret Documents.”

The rest of the receipt document is similar and unspecific—explaining that several boxes, some allegedly containing various documents of various classifications—were among the rest of the items the FBI seized per this receipt.

UPDATE 2:04 p.m. ET:

The second receipt is much shorter, and less specific. The first item on that one just says “documents,” and the rest are just numbered boxes.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m. ET:

Another interesting fact from the warrant is that Judge Reinhart gave the Justice Department and FBI a lot of time to execute it. While the DOJ and FBI took their time–waiting three days to do it–technically the document says that Reinhart authorized the feds to wait even longer all the way until next Friday on Aug. 19 to execute it. While we still do not have the underlying affidavits that represent what the FBI and DOJ took to the judge to seek and gain his approval for the warrant, that seems to indicate that the judge did not think this is so serious that immediate or urgent action was needed to be taken as he gave the authorities two full weeks–or 14 full days–in which to execute the warrant.

UPDATE 2:25 p.m. ET:

Attachment B to the warrant delineates the three statutes which agents are pursuing evidence under. They are: 18 U.S.C. § § 793, 2071, and 1519.

UPDATE 2:34 p.m. ET:

Attachment A to the warrant delineates where the agents can search and where they cannot at Mar-a-Lago. Specifically, it says that agents could search the “45 Office,” and “all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by” the former President of the United States [the document uses the abbreviation FPOTUS] “and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate.” This attachment does however said agents are not authorized to search areas “currently (i.e., at the time of the search) being occupied, rented, or used by third parties (such as Mar-a-Lago members) and not otherwise used or available to be used by FPOTUS and his staff, such as private guest suites.”

UPDATE 2:37 p.m. ET:

Further fleshing out Attachment B, which contains the most information about the goals and intent of the DOJ and FBI at this stage of any document short of the as-of-now-still-unavailable affidavit, what it does is list three criminal statutes under which items are to be searched and seized. They are: 18 U.S.C. section 793, which deals with defense information; 18 U.S.C. section 1519, which deals with destroying federal documents; and 18 U.S.C. section 2071, which deals with concealing, removing, or damaging federal documents. The first statute is the one that has likely provoked media speculation about so-called “nuclear” documents: it applies to a broad range of defense “information,” from code books to ordinary photographs.

UPDATE 2:43 p.m. ET:

All of this is technically irrelevant anyway because Trump–who as president has original and absolute declassification authority–said he declassified all of these documents. “Number one, it was all declassified,” Trump said on Truth Social moments ago. “Number two, they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.”

This is a developing story and more information will come soon.

On Friday, Breitbart, the far-right news site, was neck-and-neck with the Wall Street Journal on a huge scoop when they released details about the search warrant that was issued for Mar-a-Lago — former President Donald Trump's Florida estate — earlier this week.

But Breitbart completely butchered their scoop.

Rather than focusing on the specific details of the warrant, or the itemized list of property that federal agents seized from Trump's home on suspicion of potentially serious crimes (the outlet obtained both documents and only later published them in full), author Matthew Boyle initially chose to write about when the warrant was issued. Specifically, Boyle reported that the warrant was signed by a federal judge three days before the FBI raided Trump's home.

Why does that matter? It doesn't, really, unless you're Breitbart: "Why the authorities waited several days to execute service of the warrant if the matter rose to such a serious national security issue is unclear," Boyle wrote. "If what federal agents intended to obtain from the raid was such a risk to national security, the fact they decided to linger and wait for several days before executing is likely to become a major point of contention as this debate plays out in front of the public."

Yep, that's right. The possibility that Trump left office in possession of documents that could present a threat to national security got less attention from Breitbart — the first publication to get the genuinely newsworthy scoop — than the fact that it took federal authorities three days to raid Trump's home after a search warrant was signed.

As expected, the outlet was roundly criticized online for its editorial choices. That led to Boyle amending the original piece to include several long-winded updates, including more specifics about the documents the outlet obtained. However, those additional updates only provided more fodder for criticism.

For example, an update at 2:25 p.m. ET reads: "Attachment B to the warrant delineates the three statutes which agents are pursuing evidence under. They are: 18 USC 793, 2071, and 1519."

What Boyle initially failed to mention in that update is that 18 U.S. Code 793 is a statute that's part of the Espionage Act. That specific law makes it a crime to remove or misuse information related to national defense, a serious offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Federal agents had enough reason to believe Trump violated the Espionage Act that they raided his home to search for evidence, but Boyle at first floated it as a passing detail.

Boyle later outlined each of the three federal statutes (18 USC sections 793, 2071 and 1519) that federal authorities believe Trump potentially violated in an update at 2:37 p.m., but again downplayed their seriousness. With relation to to section 793, the Breitbart site now reads: "The first statute is the one that has likely provoked media speculation about so-called 'nuclear' documents: it applies to a broad range of defense 'information,' from code books to ordinary photographs."

Then, in an update posted six minutes later: "All of this is technically irrelevant anyway because Trump —who as president has original and absolute declassification authority — said he declassified all of these documents."

As the afternoon wore on, other publications obtained the same documents and reported them in far greater detail, essentially squashing Breitbart's big get. And as of early evening Eastern Time on Friday, Breitbart appears to have finally ceased with the incessant, piecemeal updates.

Just hours after a list began circulating among right-wing media of FBI agents who signed off on the search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, a former Trump aide tried to sic MAGA fans on the family members of the purported agents.

Garrett Ziegler, who recently went on a sexist tear against former White House colleagues, took to Telegram to post the personal information of men he identified as agents.

“This is one of the two feds who signed the ‘Receipt for Property’ form, which detailed—at a very high level—the fishing expedition that the FBI performed at Mar-a-Lago,” Ziegler said on both Truth Social and Telegram.

The former Trump administration staffer that worked under White House trade adviser Peter Navarro further listed out the FBI agents’ date of birth, work emails and linked to alleged family members’ social media accounts.

“Hope he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep for the rest of 2022,” Ziegler wrote on Truth Social, responding to another Truth Social user’s photos of one of the alleged FBI officials who signed off on the inventory receipts on the warrant.

The inventory receipt section of the warrant was additionally signed by Trump lawyer Christina Bobb and listed out what the FBI had taken from Trump’s home.

The FBI declined to comment on this story when reached by The Daily Beast.

Shortly after Ziegler had posted what he believed to be the first FBI agent’s information to Truth Social, it was taken down.

“[Truth Social] Just took down the post for ZERO reason,” he said. “Didn’t violate 18 USC 119 or anything else.” (A Truth Social spokesperson didn’t return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.)

Speaking on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, Ziegler doubled down on his posting of information he claims to be that of the agents.

“We have to have faces,” he said. “There are people ruining America, and they have names, and emails, and addresses.”

Multiple attempts to reach Ziegler for comment were unsuccessful on Friday night.

The targeting by a former Trump administration aide follows CNN reporting that the FBI now faces “unprecedented” newfound threats against their agency.

“We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous,” the FBI told CNN in a statement. “As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”

It all comes as right-wing media has encouraged a protest to occur in front of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Sunday, and continued calls for a civil war ring out from right-wing users on social media.

This is Garrett Ziegler, the twatwaffle that disclosed the FBI agents information on Truth Social. Little wannabe Nazi.

NEW: Armed Donald Trump supporters have gathered outside the Phoenix, Arizona, FBI office after what they call the "unlawful" search of Mar-a-Lago. #azleg

With an increasing number of threats against the FBI and agents, including an armed man who tried to breach a field office in Ohio, officials have put up barricades around FBI headquarters in DC. Similar fencing was put up after the unrest in DC in 2020 & after the Capitol riot.

Per Fox News, the FBI and DHS have published a bulletin warning that the raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, has resulted in multiple threats, including one that said a dirty bomb will be placed at the FBI headquarters in DC.

Many of the threats include references to the 2020 election and the perception that it was "stolen" from DJT, according to the bulletin. FBI/DHS have observed online the PII of the judge that signed off on the warrant to raid Trump's home.

I walked by the headquarters earlier, definitely an increased presence of FBI Police and some DHS agents. Also some K9 units on patrol Apparently there were rumors of a protest planned too, but nothing happened

@CBSNews has obtained DHS/FBI bulletin warning of "an increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities, including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI HQ and issuing general calls for 'civil war"(h/t @NicoleSganga)

This includes threats that are "specific in identifying proposed targets, tactics, or weaponry," including law enforcement, judges, and government officials. Also notes attempted breach of FBI building in Ohio on Thursday.

Hours before a man identified by two law enforcement sources as Ricky Shiffer died in standoff with law enforcement after he allegedly attempted to breach the FBI's Cincinnati field office on Thursday, Shiffer appeared to post on former President Donald Trump's social media platform Truth Social to express his desire to kill federal agents.

The post, which has since been removed by the site's moderators, appeared shortly after the FBI searched the former president's Mar-a-Lago residence on Monday.

"When they come for you, kill them," the suspect wrote. "Be an American, not a steer."

Shiffer was in Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021, though he was not arrested following the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The posts represent a tiny fraction of violent extremist content flooding far-right message boards and social media platforms in the wake of the FBI's search of the Mar-a-Lago resort. Phrases including "civil war" and "lock and load" trended across Telegram channels, Gab, Reddit and TheDonald, a popular forum among Trump supporters. Also rising are antisemitic slurs threatening the Florida magistrate judge who signed the search warrant enabling the FBI to search for and remove boxes and documents of potentially classified material from the former president's home. At this point, the volume of the rhetoric hasn't reached the same levels seen in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 riot.

The threats ranged from attacks on the FBI and those involved in the case to calls for Trump supporters to take up arms against the government.

"Ballot box, soap box, jury box, and ammo box … options are getting limited," wrote one user. "Time to bear arms and take down the FBI," wrote another.

"There was just an explosion of angry rhetoric across right-wing media, across right-wing social media accounts," Jessica Reaves, the editorial director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center for Extremism, told CBS News. "What is most notable to us is the uniformity of the calls for civil war across, quote, unquote, extremist and … 'mainstream' platforms and from people on, you know, across the board, in the right wing space."

Reaves continued, "What we're seeing today is a volume and a sort of pitch that we've not seen … in certainly at least 18 months, maybe more."

Users on far-right platforms, pro-Trump message boards and Twitter threatened the Florida magistrate and shared what appear to be the judge's home address and phone numbers and names and photos of possible family members. The threats, first uncovered by the non-profit investigative group Advance Democracy Inc., were also shared on social media channels of the far-right militia group the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, another militia group.

In addition, users have seized on reports that when he was practicing law, the judge represented employees of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, feeding into the false QAnon-driven narrative that there is a cabal of pedophiles and Satan-worshippers who run a global sex-trafficking operation.

The judge's biography page was taken offline this week after users on the far-right platforms "doxxed" the judge by posting his contact information alongside the threatening messages.

The anger surrounding Trump's false allegations about a stolen 2020 election has not subsided among his most loyal supporters, Rita Katz, CEO of Site Intelligence Group, which tracks extremists online, told CBS News, but she also said that the level of online extremism hasn't yet matched the pre-Jan. 6 furor.

Katz noted that, "While the incitements and themes of this dangerous discourse do indeed resemble those seen before the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, we have not yet seen it reach the same volume and prevalence."

But she added, "There are many developments to come and we must not work under the naive assumption that a similar event couldn't happen again."

Although GOP lawmakers' language is more muted, extremism experts note that violent rhetoric mirrors ideas spread on far right platforms with statements painting the U.S. government as a "banana republic" or "police state."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis alleged law enforcement's action in Mar-a-Lago marked an "escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents."

"Failure is not an option," Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted Monday. "We must destroy the FBI. We must save America. I stand with Donald J. Trump."

"One day what goes around is going to come around," wrote Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. "And then we become Nicaragua under Ortega," the Florida lawmaker added in an apparent comparison to the leader notorious for jailing political opponents.

At a press conference Thursday announcing his department was seeking permission from a federal judge to unseal the search warrant used by federal agents to seize documents from Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland defended the work of FBI agents and those involved in the case.

"The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants," Garland said. "Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their safety, while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves."

FBI Director Christopher Wray released a statement Thursday afternoon condemning the "violence and threats," adding that "unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law."

"Every day I see the men and women of the FBI doing their jobs professionally and with rigor, objectivity, and a fierce commitment to our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution," Wray wrote. " I am proud to serve alongside them."

Statement from @CapitolPolice on car crash and suicide on E. Capitol street early this morning

US Capitol police inspect where a burning car crashed into a US Capitol barricade in Washington, DC, USA, 14 August 2022. The driver of the vehicle reportedly fired a weapon at Capitol police before shooting himself. epa/Jim Lo Scalzo

Civil War II Diary:

Day 1: Friday, August 12th, 2022 Attack on the Cincinnati FBI office didn’t end well.

Day 2: Saturday, August 13th, 2022 March on the Phoenix FBI ended peacefully.

Day 3: Sunday, August 14th, 2022 Assault on U.S Capital, not so good.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A man drove his car into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol early Sunday and then began firing gunshots in the air before fatally shooting himself, according to police, who said he did not seem to be targeting any member of Congress.

The incident happened just before 4 a.m. at a vehicle barricade set at East Capitol Street NE and 2nd Street SE in Washington.

It comes at a time when law enforcement authorities across the country are facing an increasing number of threats and federal officials have warned about the potential of violent attacks on government buildings in the days since the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The attack is reminiscent of an incident when a man drove a vehicle into two Capitol Police officers at a checkpoint in April 2021, killing an 18-year veteran of the force. And many on Capitol Hill remain on edge after supporters of the then-president stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Authorities said the man, identified as Richard A. York III, 29, of Delaware, crashed into the barricade and that as he was getting out of the car, the vehicle became engulfed in flames. The man then opened fire, firing several shots into the air as police approached.

Capitol Police said the man shot himself as the officers neared. He was later pronounced dead.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said officers did not hear the man say anything before he opened fire “indiscriminately” in the street with a handgun and walked toward the Capitol building. Authorities are investigating whether the man may have set his car on fire, the chief said, because the collision did not appear to cause the blaze.

Police officers at the scene saw the man fatally shoot himself as they approached, Manger said.

The chief said investigators located addresses for the man in Delaware and Pennsylvania and learned he had a criminal history in the past decade, though his motive remained unclear and he had no links to the Capitol.,

“We don’t have any information that would indicate his motivation at this point,” Manger said.

Police said “it does not appear the man was targeting any member of Congress” and that investigators are examining the man’s background as they work to try to discern a motive. Both the House and Senate are in recess and very few staff members work in the Capitol complex at that hour.

Authorities said no other injuries were reported and police do not believe any officers returned fire.

Washington (CNN)In response to the FBI search of former President Donald Trump's home in Florida on Monday, Trump and his allies in Congress and right-wing media have returned to his preferred strategy for communicating in a crisis: say a whole bunch of nonsense in rapid succession.

From his battles against impeachment to his effort to limit the political fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump has attempted to flood the zone with such a quantity and variety of lies, conspiracy theories and distractions that Americans will tune out, turn away or cease to know what is true and not. And he has regularly been joined by a large cast of eager defenders.

Baseless conspiracy theories about the search

Using his familiar just-asking-questions style of promoting conspiracy theories, Trump posted on his social media platform on Wednesday a suggestion that the FBI could have planted evidence. His legal team had already been suggesting the same thing. One Trump lawyer, Alina Habba, said on Fox on Tuesday: "I'm concerned that they may have planted something; you know, at this point, who knows?"

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky echoed this question on Wednesday, wondering on Fox how we know "they won't put things into those boxes to entrap him." Fox host Jesse Watters had gone further on Tuesday, saying the FBI was "probably" planting evidence, and Paul's campaign had adopted the "probably" by Friday.

There is just zero basis for any of this.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida offered up a different baseless conspiracy theory about federal malfeasance, saying on Fox on Tuesday that he didn't think they were looking for documents at all but were probably using that as an "excuse" to root around Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence for "whatever they could find." Rubio's comments were at least more plausible than the hogwash offered up Tuesday by Anna Perez, a host for right-wing media outlet Real America's Voice, who uttered a QAnon-style monologue, falsely claiming the search was a conspiracy to prevent Trump from carrying out a (nonexistent) plan to expose criminals serving in government.

More deception

Another Real America's Voice host, right-wing activist Charlie Kirk, claimed Thursday that the FBI "occupied Trump's home -- a military occupation." Though it's odd to describe the execution of a search warrant as an "occupation" of any kind, it's flat false to claim the military was involved in this search.

The former President's daughter-in-law Lara Trump delivered an impressive variety of claptrap in a single sentence, saying on Fox on Tuesday that the searchers were "a bunch of people unannounced breaking into your home like this and taking whatever they want for themselves." A source told CNN that the FBI gave the Secret Service about an hour's advance notice of the search and that the Secret Service met up with the FBI agents as they arrived and ensured they had uninhibited access. And a search warrant does not allow searchers to take "whatever they want," certainly not "for themselves"; the Department of Justice asked a court to unseal a document listing what was taken, and Trump consented.

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House minority whip, went on Fox on Thursday and said that "it concerns everybody if you see some agents go rogue." There is no sign that any agent went rogue. Even Trump-friendly Fox host Steve Doocy challenged Scalise, noting that agents were simply executing a search warrant. Scalise then invoked an inaccurate report that Attorney General Merrick Garland hadn't known about the search, falsely saying Garland himself had said he hadn't known about it. (Later on Thursday, Garland said he personally approved the decision to seek the search warrant.) Whataboutism about Democrats As usual, Trump and his defenders tried some whataboutism -- pointing a finger, dishonestly, toward prominent Democrats.

Trump baselessly suggested former President Barack Obama had mishandled presidential records after leaving office by, Trump claimed, keeping more than 30 million documents, many of them classified, and taking them to Chicago. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a Friday statement explaining it has "exclusive legal and physical custody" of the Obama-era records, that NARA itself moved about 30 million pages of unclassified records to one of its own facilities in the Chicago area, that the classified Obama-era records are maintained in a separate NARA facility near Washington, and that "former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration."

Trump and some of his media defenders went back to his old chestnut about how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been permitted to "acid wash" emails, a fabrication loosely based on the fact that an email-deletion software program happens to be called BleachBit; Fox's Watters was especially literal, falsely claiming Tuesday that Clinton had "poured acid" on emails.

Trump also suggested that there was something suspicious about the fact that, he said, his lawyers had not been allowed to witness the search, posting on his social media platform on Wednesday: "Why did they STRONGLY insist on having nobody watching them, everybody out?" But there is nothing unusual about this; lawyers don't have a right to be in the room to monitor a search.

For good measure, Trump lawyer Christina Bobb threw in a transparently false claim about Trump's popularity. She said on Right Side Broadcasting Network on Tuesday that the Department of Justice was trying to find an easy way to prosecute "the most popular president, and probably the most famous president, in American history." Trump's average Gallup approval rating over his term, 41%, was by far the lowest for any president since Gallup began measuring presidential approval in 1938.

CNN's Whitney Wild contributed to this article.

*The far right is constantly threatening violence if it doesn’t get its way. Does anyone truly believe that giving in to its blackmail will make it less aggressive?"

"Those who think that it would be too socially disruptive to apply such a statute to him should specify which laws they believe the former president is and is not obliged to obey."

This article has been updated to include new information about a man who attempted to breach an F.B.I. field office.

It took many accidents, catastrophes, misjudgments and mistakes for Donald Trump to win the presidency in 2016. Two particularly important errors came from James Comey, then the head of the F.B.I., who was excessively worried about what Trump’s supporters would think of the resolution of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

First, in July 2016, Comey broke protocol to give a news conference in which he criticized Clinton even while announcing that she’d committed no crime. He reportedly did this because he wanted to protect the reputation of the F.B.I. from inevitable right-wing claims that the investigation had been shut down for political reasons.

Then, on Oct. 28, just days before the election, Comey broke protocol again, telling Congress that the Clinton investigation had been reopened because of emails found on the laptop of the former congressman Anthony Weiner. The Justice Department generally discourages filing charges or taking “overt investigative steps” close to an election if they might influence the result. Comey disregarded this because, once again, he dreaded a right-wing freakout once news of the reopened investigation emerged.

“The prospect of oversight hearings, led by restive Republicans investigating an F.B.I. ‘cover-up,’ made everyone uneasy,” The New Yorker reported. In Comey’s memoir, he admitted fearing that concealing the new stage of the investigation — which ended up yielding nothing — would make Clinton, who he assumed would win, seem “illegitimate.” (He didn’t, of course, feel similarly compelled to make public the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.)

Comey’s attempts to pre-empt a conservative firestorm blew up in his face. He helped put Trump in the White House, where Trump did generational damage to the rule of law and led us to a place where prominent Republicans are calling for abolishing the F.B.I.

This should be a lesson about the futility of shaping law enforcement decisions around the sensitivities of Trump’s base. Yet after the F.B.I. executed a search warrant at Trump’s beachfront estate this week, some intelligent people have questioned the wisdom of subjecting the former president to the normal operation of the law because of the effect it will have on his most febrile admirers.

Andrew Yang, one of the founders of a new centrist third party, tweeted about the “millions of Americans who will see this as unjust persecution.” Damon Linker, usually one of the more sensible centrist thinkers, wrote, “Rather than healing the country’s civic wounds, the effort to punish Trump will only deepen them.”

The Atlantic’s Tim Alberta described feeling “nauseous” watching coverage of the raid. “What we must acknowledge — even those of us who believe Trump has committed crimes, in some cases brazenly so, and deserves full prosecution under the law — is that bringing him to justice could have some awful consequences,” he wrote.

In some sense, Alberta’s words are obviously true; Trumpists are already issuing death threats against the judge who signed off on the warrant, and a Shabbat service at his synagogue was reportedly canceled because of the security risk. On Thursday, an armed man tried to breach an F.B.I. field office in Ohio, and The New York Times reported that he appears to have attended a pro-Trump rally in Washington the night before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The former president relishes his ability to stir up a mob; it’s part of what makes him so dangerous.

We already know, however, that the failure to bring Trump to justice — for his company’s alleged financial chicanery and his alleged sexual assault, for obstructing Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation and turning the presidency into a squalid influence-peddling operation, for trying to steal an election and encouraging an insurrection — has been disastrous.

What has strengthened Trump has not been prosecution but impunity, an impunity that some of those who stormed the Capitol thought, erroneously, applied to them as well. Trump’s mystique is built on his defiance of rules that bind everyone else. He is reportedly motivated to run for president again in part because the office will protect him from prosecution. If we don’t want the presidency to license crime sprees, we should allow presidents to be indicted, not accept some dubious norm that ex-presidents shouldn’t be.

We do not know the scope of the investigation that led a judge to authorize the search of Mar-a-Lago, though it reportedly involves classified documents that Trump failed to turn over to the government even after being subpoenaed. More could be revealed soon: Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Thursday that the Justice Department had filed a motion in court to unseal the search warrant.

It should go without saying that Trump and his followers, who howled “Lock her up!” about Clinton, do not believe that it is wrong for the Justice Department to pursue a probe against a presidential contender over the improper handling of classified material. What they believe is that it is wrong to pursue a case against Trump, who bonds with his acolytes through a shared sense of aggrieved victimization.

The question is how much deference the rest of us should give to this belief. No doubt, Trump’s most inflamed fans might act out in horrifying ways; many are heavily armed and speak lustily about civil war. To let this dictate the workings of justice is to accept an insurrectionists’ veto. The far right is constantly threatening violence if it doesn’t get its way. Does anyone truly believe that giving in to its blackmail will make it less aggressive?

It was Trump himself who signed a law making the removal and retention of classified documents a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Those who think that it would be too socially disruptive to apply such a statute to him should specify which laws they believe the former president is and is not obliged to obey. And those in charge of enforcing our laws should remember that the caterwauling of the Trump camp is designed to intimidate them and such intimidation helped him become president in the first place.

Trump shouldn’t be prosecuted because of politics, but he also shouldn’t be spared because of them. The only relevant question is whether he committed a crime, not what crimes his devotees might commit if he’s held to account.

"He compared the FBI to the Nazi SS and the KGB and said everyone at the FBI, from agents to janitors, should be killed. 'My only goal is to kill more of them before I drop,' he wrote on Gab. 'I will not spend one second of my life in their custody.'"

A Mercer County man threatened online to murder FBI agents after the bureau's search of former president Donald Trump's Florida estate last week, saying "come and get me you piece of [expletive] feds" and "I am going to [expletive] slaughter you," according to a federal complaint filed Monday in Pittsburgh.

Adam Bies, 46, is charged in U.S. District Court with influencing, impeding or retaliating against federal law officers.

He appeared briefly by video before a federal magistrate judge on Monday afternoon and will remain in U.S. custody pending a detention hearing Thursday. The judge said she'd likely appoint a lawyer for him after she had a chance to review his financial records.

According to an FBI affidavit, Mr. Bies issued a variety of threats on Gab after the Aug. 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in which agents removed boxes of classified documents.

According to records unsealed after the search, federal authorities are investigating Mr. Trump for potential violations of the Espionage Act.

The FBI's action has prompted a flood of violent rhetoric and threats from far-right extremists.

In the affidavit for Mr. Bies, the FBI said he compared bureau agents to the Nazi SS of World War II and the Soviet-era KGB and said everyone at the FBI, from agents to janitors, deserves to die.

"My only goal is to kill more of them before I drop," Mr. Bies wrote on Thursday. "I will not spend one second of my life in their custody."

The case began when an FBI national threat team received a tip from a domestic terrorism tracking group that someone calling himself "BlankFocus" was issuing threats on Gab.

"If you work for the FBI then you deserve to die," the poster wrote.

After an emergency request for information, Gab provided subscriber data for "Adam Campbell," which the FBI said is an alias that Mr. Bies said he used "so that corporate Murica' can't google me out of a job."

Agents tracked Mr. Bies' IP address to his residence on Falls Road in rural Mercer County outside of Springfield Falls.

A review of Mr. Bies' Gab chats revealed a range of threats, according to the affidavit.

"I’ll shoot an SS officer in the head just as quick as I’d shoot a KGB officer in the head," he said. "Keep that in mind. There are plenty of other letters in the alphabet. Police state scum are police state scum. Period."

He also tagged Gab CEO Andrew Torba regarding a news article about FBI Director Christopher Wray discussing threats the FBI had received after the Mar-a-Lago search. He expressed anger at Gab for warnings about removing chats containing threats and said, "I sincerely believe that if you work for the FBI, then you deserve to DIE."

In another post on Thursday, Mr. Bies referenced a message Gab had issued him, saying the platform "just gave me an account warning today for saying that a bunch of child moleseting [expletives] at the FBI should be put down."

He also called Mr. Torba a "piece of [expletive]" and told him to "go ahead and ban me."

A review of his Gab chats from Wednesday revealed other threats against the FBI, agents said.

In one post, according to the affidavit, he said, "HEY FEDS. We the people cannot WAIT to water the trees of liberty with your blood. I’ll be waiting for you to kick down my door.”

Based on those comments and others, the agent who wrote the affidavit said he believes Mr. Bies is willing to commit violence against law enforcement in support of his beliefs "even if that costs him his own life."

Since the FBI search in Florida, researchers who track extremism, along with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have warned of escalating threats by radicals advocating civil war and attacks on federal agents.

At least one person appears to have taken action on those threats.

Last week, Ricky Shiffer Jr., 42, a Navy veteran and Pennsylvania native, tried to breach the FBI's office in Cincinnati. He fled when an alarm sounded, according to police and the FBI. Following a car chase, a standoff and unsuccessful attempts at a negotiated surrender, police killed him.

In Phoenix on Sunday, a group of armed Trump supporters staged a protest outside the FBI's office, although it later broke up peacefully.

The Philadelphia Inquirer contributed.

First Published August 15, 2022, 12:23pm

My latest column: The Trump death toll rose last week: Trump's lies about FBI Mar-a-Lago search lead to deadly consequences ⁦@MSNBCDaily@MSNBC

The Trump death toll climbed last week. On Friday, a man armed with an assault-style rifle tried to breach security at the Cincinnati, Ohio, FBI field office. After fleeing that office, authorities say Ricky Shiffer exchanged shots with police and was eventually killed by law enforcement in a cornfield near Wilmington. The Ohio man, who was already under investigation as a potential threat, wasn’t the first deluded victim of the deadly contagion of disinformation spewing from a depraved former president and his soulless sycophants, and it’s not likely he’ll be the last.

As Alyssa Rosenberg wrote for The Washington Post, at least four of Trump’s supporters died at the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot: “Ashli Babbit, who was shot while trying to climb through a broken window; Kevin Greeson, who suffered a fatal heart attack; Benjamin Philips, who succumbed to a stroke; and Rosanne Boyland, whose official cause of death was “acute amphetamine intoxication,” but who was caught up in a crush of bodies on the Capitol grounds. Christopher Stanton Georgia died by suicide later that month after he was arrested on unlawful entry charges stemming from Jan. 6. We also know that three police officers died following their defense of our Capitol.

Shiffer was already under investigation by the FBI for possible involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. According to The New York Times, “Law enforcement officials separately said they were investigating whether Mr. Shiffer appeared in a video posted on Facebook on Jan. 5, 2021, showing him attending a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington the night before the Capitol was stormed.”

Shiffer’s online posts indicate he supported former President Donald Trump and became incensed when the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s Florida residence Aug. 8. The New York Times reports that on Aug. 9, “someone with an account bearing Mr. Shiffer’s name posted messages on Mr. Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social, recommending that “patriots” go to Florida and kill federal agents.” According to that report, “When someone online asked Shiffer if he was proposing terrorism, the account responded: ‘I am proposing war.’” Shiffer died before he likely would hear, if it would have mattered, that the government tried negotiating with Trump and his lawyers for the return of the sensitive documents, that Trump never complied with a subpoena, that Trump was able to view the search via security cameras, that a Trump lawyer had provided a written filing to the government claiming there wasn’t any more classified material and that the search reportedly turned up multiple documents classified at the highest levels.

How does someone move so quickly from violent rhetoric to violent action – even at the risk of losing their life? It happens when the viral load of dangerous disinformation they consume overwhelms their body’s natural survival defense. Disinformation, lies and conspiracy theories are airborne and spread by contact. Contact with others who are similarly unable to think for themselves and exposure to airwaves filled with radicalizing rhetoric can kill. And last week, it appears to have killed Shiffer.

Shiffer’s death didn’t deter pro-Trump protesters in Arizona from showing up armed with assault-style rifles at the FBI Phoenix field office Saturday. That same day, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint warning that federal law enforcement was facing an unprecedented volume of threats. Who is behind the volatile environment we’re now living in?

Following the search of his residence, Trump quickly called the investigation a “hoax” and implied the FBI planted information. Following his lead, Trump’s minions in media and in elected office didn’t wait for the facts before rushing to rant against a law enforcement action they knew next to nothing about. “Tomorrow is war” said Steven Crowder, a conservative analyst with almost 2 million Twitter followers. “This means war,” the Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump platform, posted online. Joe Kent, a Trump-endorsed candidate for Congress said on Steve Bannon’s podcast, “We’re at war.” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., called the search ”3rd world country stuff”. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the warrant a “weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents.” And, an unredacted copy of the court-authorized search warrant, which contained the names of two FBI agents, was published by Breitbart News leading to widespread threats against FBI personnel. Even the federal magistrate who signed the search warrant is being targeted for violence.

Trump, and those who echo his violence-inducing vitriol, bear responsibility for radicalizing those who have killed because of the lie of white replacement theory. The 2019 El Paso Walmart shooter cited the same brown “invasion” language used by Trump before he targeted shoppers and killed 23 people in a store frequented by Mexicans. The Buffalo supermarket shooter, who killed 10 in a predominately Black neighborhood, cited white replacement theory in his postings – a lie frequently pushed by Fox News entertainer Tucker Carlson.

There is no end in sight to the rising body count. That’s because a deliberate far-right strategy of “culture warfare,” which encourages residents to see themselves as warriors in a life or death battle, is perceived as effective in turning out voters. This fact-averse strategy depends upon a steady stream of disinformation designed to spur people to action – even if that action is deadly. If left unchecked, this strategy won’t kill only people but also lead to the demise of the rule of law and our democracy. The dangerous rhetoric and violent actions of last week provide an ominous preview of what might transpire if Trump is eventually indicted in any of the investigations into his behavior.

More people, including more Trump followers, could find themselves casualties of the contagion of conspiracy theories and lies. That’s why it’s time for MAGA adherents, who seem unmoved by the threat they pose to democracy, to consider the threat they pose to themselves. Our soldiers and law enforcement officers who risk death in defense of democracy are noble. But those who risk death because they’re duped by a derelict former president, power-hungry politicians and ratings-chasing cable clowns – well, that just makes them tragically deceived.

Dear god they’re citing Nixon

Fox host defends Trump’s handling of top secret documents: “President Nixon said, that if the president does it, that it is not illegal. Is that not truly the standard when it comes to classified documents?”

This thread has a complication of those if you prefer not to sleep tonight.....or at the very least have nightmares.

This is a thread of like dozens of videos of Trumpies pledging violence:

The right is prepping for civil war. I’d report them all to the @FBI, but I literally don’t have time to sit report the hundreds of videos like this I’m seeing on my alt tiktok. (And they didn’t check Twitter.) so here’s a /1

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Supporters of former president Donald Trump have reacted to last week’s FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago resort with both threats of violence and at least one real attack so far. Over the weekend, reports emerged that the bureau and the department of homeland security had put out a memo warning that the search inflamed extremists across the United States. An incident outside the US Capitol early Sunday morning in which a man drove his car into a barricade before shooting himself underscored the tense atmosphere.

A Deepening Void

Civil war is among the many terms we now use too easily. The American Civil War was a bloodbath driven by the inevitable confrontation between the Union and the organized forces of sedition and slavery. But at least the Civil War, as I said Friday on Morning Joe during a panel on political violence in America, was about something. Compared with the bizarre ideas and half-baked wackiness that now infest American political life, the arguments between the North and the South look like a deep treatise on government.

The United States now faces a different kind of violence, from people who believe in nothing—or at least, in nothing real. We do not risk the creation of organized armies and militias in Virginia or Louisiana or Alabama marching on federal institutions. Instead, all of us face random threats and unpredictable dangers from people among us who spend too much time watching television and plunging down internet rabbit holes. These people, acting individually or in small groups, will be led not by rebel generals but by narcissistic wannabe heroes, and they will be egged on by cowards and instigators who will inflame them from the safety of a television or radio studio—or from behind the shield of elected office. Occasionally, they will congeal into a mob, as they did on January 6, 2021.

There is no single principle that unites these Americans in their violence against their fellow citizens. They will tell you that they are for “liberty” and “freedom,” but these are merely code words for personal grudges, racial and class resentments, and a generalized paranoia that dark forces are manipulating their lives. These are not people who are going to take up the flag of a state or of a deeper cause; they have already taken up the flag of a failed president, and their causes are a farrago of conspiracy theories and pulpy science-fiction plots.

What makes this situation worse is that there is no remedy for it. When people are driven by fantasies, by resentment, by an internalized sense of inferiority, there is no redemption in anything. Winning elections, burning effigies, even shooting at other citizens does not soothe their anger but instead deepens the spiritual and moral void that haunts them.

Donald Trump is central to this fraying of public sanity, because he has done one thing for such people that no one else could do: He has made their lives interesting. He has made them feel important. He has taken their itching frustrations about the unfairness of life and created a morality play around them, and cast himself as the central character. Trump, to his supporters, is the avenging angel who is going to lay waste to the “elites,” the smarty-pantses and do-gooders, the godless and the smug, the satisfied and the comfortable.

I spoke with one of the original Never Trumpers over the weekend, a man who has lost friends and family because of his opposition to Trump, and he told me that one of the most unsettling things to him is that these same pro-Trump family and friends now say that they believe that Trump broke the law—but that they don’t care. They see Trump and his crusade—their crusade against evil, the drama that gives their lives meaning—as more important than the law.

I have heard similar sentiments among people I know.

Some of these people are ready to snap and to resort to violence. A Navy veteran in Ohio was killed in a standoff last week after he attacked the Cincinnati FBI office; a man in Pennsylvania was arrested and charged today for threatening to “slaughter” federal agents, whom he called “police state scum.” But that doesn’t stop charlatans and con artists from throwing matches at the fuses every day, because those hucksters, too, have decided that living a normal life and working a straight job is for saps. They will gladly risk the occasional explosion here and there if it means living the good life off of donations and purchases from their marks.

When enough Americans decide that a cult of personality matters more than a commitment to democracy, we risk becoming a lawless autocracy. This is why we must continue to demand that Trump and his enablers face the consequences of their actions: To cave in the face of threats means the end of democracy. And it would not, in any event, mollify those among our fellow citizens who have chosen to discard the Constitution so that they can keep mainlining jolts of drama from morning until night.

We are going to be living in this era of political violence for the foreseeable future. All any of us can do is continue, among our friends and family and neighbors, to say and defend what is right in the face of lies and delusions.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page