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Rather than sink Donald Trump, the Mar-a-Lago raid could save him

Rather than sink Donald Trump, the Mar-a-Lago raid could save him

Being investigated under the Espionage Act would end most people’s political aspirations. For the martyr-in-chief, this could be just the boost he needs, writes the Guardian columnist Arwa Mahdawi
Donald Trump did nothing wrong! The longsuffering martyr and former US president is so keen to let us all know that he’s the innocent victim of yet another witch-hunt that he keeps broadcasting juicy details about his legal troubles on his social media platform Truth Social. “Wow!” he announced on Monday. “In the raid of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three passports (one expired), along with everything else.”

Wow, indeed. First we find out that the search of Trump’s Florida property was partly carried out under the Espionage Act and may involve nuclear weapons; now Trump insinuates that the FBI considers him a flight risk.

In precedented times this is what you’d call a career-ending situation. In today’s hellworld, however, some reckon this spot of bother is exactly what Trump’s flagging popularity needs. Rather than dashing any further political ambitions, there’s talk that a federal investigation is a perfect way to rile up Trump’s base and get him back to the White House in 2024.

A lot of this talk is coming from the right: many conservative media outlets are furious that Trump doesn’t seem to be above the law. “The Payback for Mar-a-Lago Will Be Brutal,” an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal declared. “The FBI Is Already Interfering in the 2024 Election,” Townhall spluttered. “Completely handed [Trump] a lifeline,” one Republican strategist told Politico.

But it’s not just the right that reckons the FBI’s investigation into Trump is ill-advised: a number of Reasonable Centrists™ are also of that mind. “Did the FBI Just Re-elect Donald Trump?” wrote the New York Times columnist David Brooks after the Mar-a-Lago raid. “Several weeks ago, about half of Republican voters were ready to move on from Trump, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll,” Brooks noted. “This week, the entire party seemed to rally behind him.”

So, is the fact that he’s being investigated under the Espionage Act going to help Trump or harm him? I’m not picking sides in this debate. You know why? Because if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things can change in an instant and predictions are for fools. The fact that this absurd debate is even going on, however, says a lot about just how much norms have been shattered. Trump may never lead the US again, but he has for ever altered it.
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