Hypocrisy of Trump, who once claimed to be the ‘president of law and order,’ on full display in attacks on the FBI

OPINION: No one—not even former presidents—should be above the law and exempt from being investigated and prosecuted if the evidence warrants it.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds last month in Delaware, Ohio. (Photo: Joe Maiorana/AP, File)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

“I am your president of law and order,” Donald Trump boasted in June 2020, when violence broke out at a small minority of the many demonstrations across the U.S. protesting the police murder of George Floyd. 

It was no surprise that Trump chose not to focus on what motivated the overwhelmingly peaceful protests—the murder of Floyd. The unarmed and handcuffed Black man was killed when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over nine minutes, ignoring Floyd’s desperate cries of “I can’t breathe.” 

As he had done before, Trump sought to enflame racial tensions. “I will deploy the United States military” to cities where violence breaks out at racial justice protests if state and local law enforcement would not respond forcefully, Trump warned.

Well, as events as recent as a few days ago have shown, Trump is no more Mr. Law and Order than I’m Miss America. Instead, he’s the self-proclaimed champion of law enforcement when he claims Black folks and his political opponents have engaged in wrongdoing but accuses law enforcement of corruption and other criminal actions when he is investigated.   

We saw this when Trump worked to overturn his election defeat by pressuring Republican state government officials. We saw it again when he summoned his supporters to Washington, D.C., and told them to march to the Capitol (where they staged a riot on Jan. 6, 2021). And we saw it on Aug. 8, when the FBI removed highly classified government documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. 

Trump has whipped up his loyal followers—including some Republican elected officials—into a frenzy over the court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago. “It is…an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024,” Trump charged.

FBI agents took away about 20 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago, including some highly classified material that should never have been removed from government custody. Some of the material was especially sensitive because it dealt with nuclear weapons, sources told the Washington Post

Trump has not been charged with any crimes. Like all Americans, he must be considered innocent unless proven guilty. But rather than withhold judgment, some Republicans have blasted the nation’s premier law enforcement agency for daring to search Mar-a-Lago.

To cite just a few examples:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted: “The FBI raiding Donald Trump is unprecedented. It is corrupt & an abuse of power. … The Biden Admin has fully weaponized DOJ & FBI to target their political enemies.”
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said: “The way our federal government has gone, it’s like what we have thought about the Gestapo and people like that.” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., called the FBI search of Trump’s home “Gestapo crap.” These crazy comparisons of the FBI to the Nazi secret police that played a key role in the mass murder of 6 million Jews are obscene.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted: “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization. When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.”
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted: “DEFUND THE FBI!” Keep in mind that Trump and other Republicans falsely accused Biden and many other Democratic officials of wanting to defund the police following Floyd’s murder.

Many Republican officials have remained silent on the FBI search and a few courageous ones have defended the agency. For example, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) tweeted: “I have been ashamed to hear members of my party attacking the integrity of the FBI agents involved in the recent Mar-a-Lago search. These are sickening comments that put the lives of patriotic public servants at risk.”

Verbal attacks can result in violence, as we saw on Jan. 6 and again after the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, when armed Trump supporter Ricky Shiffer tried to break into the FBI office in Cincinnati. Shiffer wrote on the Trump social media platform Truth Social, “… it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I.” and had earlier used the platform to urge fellow Trump supporters to “be ready for combat.” He was fatally shot by police after a six-hour standoff.

Thankfully, there have been no other violent incidents at this writing in response to the FBI search, but many threats against FBI and Justice Department officials have been posted on social media.

Long before Trump entered politics, Republicans boasted of their support for the police and for law and order. This was a major campaign theme for Richard Nixon’s successful presidential campaign in 1968, in reaction to the violence that broke out in Black areas of many cities following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Black people have long complained quite accurately about being disproportionately targeted with police brutality and killings. For example, the Washington Post found that while Black Americans accounted for 13 percent of the nation’s population in 2021, we accounted for 27 percent of those fatally shot by police. Time after time again, Republicans have defended the police in such killings.

This is what makes the hypocrisy of Trump and some in the GOP on the FBI search of Trump’s Florida estate so appalling. Their extraordinary attacks on the FBI are unwarranted, irresponsible and dangerous. 

Equal justice under the law has long been the goal in America, even though it has often not been achieved for Black Americans. We can’t undo the injustices of the past but we should do everything possible to reach the goal of equal justice now and in the future. That means that no one—not even former presidents—should be above the law and exempt from being investigated and prosecuted if the evidence warrants it.

Donna Brazile Headshot thegrio.com

Donna Brazile is an ABC News Contributor, veteran political strategist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University. She previously served as interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. She managed the Gore campaign in 2000 and has lectured at more than 225 colleges and universities on race, diversity, women, leadership and restoring civility in politics. Brazile is the author of several books, including the New York Times’ bestseller “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.” @DonnaBrazile.

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