Let’s say you believe Donald Trump is being framed.
A lot of people do. So many, in fact, that Trump may never face any consequences for what may be illegal activity.
And we can prove it if Trump supporters were willing answer a few simple questions.
Pretend, for a moment, that this wasn't Trump
Imagine a man, not Trump, with access to secret government documents who takes a bunch of them home with him after leaving his job. This can be illegal, and potentially could threaten national security, so the man is asked to return the documents.
He somewhat complies, but authorities find out he didn’t return all of the documents.
The government asks for the rest, but the man doesn’t respond.
Unprecedented: Trump FBI search brings a political minefield
So the government issues a subpoena to have the rest of the documents returned.
It is ignored.
Would you say it was unreasonable for authorities to seek a search warrant of the man’s estate in order to try to retrieve those documents … if it wasn’t Donald Trump?
How important could the papers be?
To be fair, you might first want to know how important those documents were. That’s only natural.
What if it turns out the man had in his possession 11 sets of documents, including some labeled “classified/TS/SCI,” which means “top secret/sensitive compartmented information,” which refers to something so sensitive it is only supposed to be reviewed in a secure government facility?
Would you think authorities would be justified in retrieving such documents … if it wasn’t Donald Trump?
Also, given the sensitivity of such information and the restrictions about where it could be viewed, would you think a criminal investigation into whether any laws were broken would be justified … if it wasn’t Donald Trump?
Then again, what if the man contended that he had the authority to “declassify” such documents, so having them in his possession should not be a big deal?
That would seem to mitigate concerns, right?
Is it a violation of the Espionage Act?
Except in this case, the proper procedure may not have been followed and the man’s authority to declassify would not matter, since having in his possession information that could harm national security or aid an enemy is a possible violation of the Espionage Act. It is also illegal to conceal or destroy such documents in order to obstruct a government investigation.
And since the kind of information included in “SCI” documents could deal with important ongoing missions abroad or highly sensitive technology at home, would you object to pursuing a criminal investigation into what the man was doing with them … if it wasn’t Donald Trump?
Others may be involved in something like this as well.
What if an attorney working for the man who’d kept the classified documents had signed a statement months ago saying all of the documents marked classified had been given back, but that turned out to be untrue?
Would you want the FBI to investigate whether the lawyer and/or his client were being purposefully deceitful when they made that initial claim … if it wasn’t Donald Trump?
Is everyone equal under the law?
Now, imagine the man who took the documents and his associates first tried to divert attention from the documents by blaming the judge for authorizing the search, then blamed the FBI, then blamed the attorney general, then said the documents were planted, then said he declassified the documents, then said the information was privileged, would that make you a bit suspicious … if it wasn’t Donald Trump?
There is always a danger in politics, and in life, for our heartfelt belief in a person to obscure our notion of right and wrong.
Each of the situations described occured during the lead up to the search of the former president’s estate and what happened afterward.
Would you say that no one in America is above the law … if it wasn’t Donald Trump?
Reach Montini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more opinions content, please subscribe.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Was Donald Trump framed? If you think so, ask yourself this