Kevin McCarthy’s tweet on Trump indictment is either a bluff or really dangerous | Opinion

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The indictment news had hardly broken before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy rushed to defend former President Donald Trump:

McCarthy pinned a tweet to the top of his Twitter feed that said President Joe Biden was the one indicting Trump in the Mar-a-Lago missing documents case.

He called the indictment a “grave injustice” and offered this pledge: “House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.”

The tweet is a gross mischaracterization, of course. Biden did not indict anyone. The Justice Department brought the case against the former president. Yes, it is a part of the executive branch, but to claim Biden, a Democrat, was in charge is simply not true — presidents don’t indict anyone. McCarthy knows it.

Beyond that basic fact, there are two ways to look at McCarthy’s reaction:

The tweet is a bluff that McCarthy had to put on social media given the happenings of this past week in his Republican caucus.

In case one missed it, the Bakersfield Republican has been trying to manage an insurrection among his GOP ranks. Members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus joined Democrats on Tuesday in voting against a procedural measure to keep legislation moving forward. Without that measure passing, bills could not be taken up. So action in the House ground to a halt.

McCarthy decided to scrap votes for the rest of the week so he could work on the impasse with the Freedom Caucus members. They are upset with the compromise bill McCarthy struck with Biden to raise the national debt ceiling.

Seen in this way, McCarthy had no choice but to strike an antagonistic tone over the Trump indictment.

That said, the other possibility is that McCarthy really believes what he put in the social media posting. He thinks the Justice Department has committed a grave injustice, and he intends to somehow hold the nation’s top law-enforcement agency “accountable,” whatever that means.

That would be a dangerous move. As CNN reported, President Donald Trump acknowledged in 2021 that he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran.

Imagine what other records could be among the trove found at Mar-a-Lago.

To suggest the Justice Department is “weaponized” — a term that loses all meaning when it is nothing but a GOP talking point — without first knowing the facts of the case is irresponsible. It becomes dangerous if the investigation gets called off prematurely.

The flip side to McCarthy’s weaponization claim is that, in fact, Trump is guilty of violating the rules regarding presidential records. There has been ample evidence already made public of the volumes of documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

There is also the obstructive behavior Trump engaged in when national archive officials tried to get those documents returned. That obstruction is what makes Trump’s case different from all the presidents and vice presidents who came before him — Biden included.

Taking presidential records, which belong to the American people, home like a prize or trophy is a violation of law. If Trump did that, he should be found guilty and be sentenced. That is how the law works.

McCarthy’s tweet includes this: “I, and every American who believes in the rule of law ...” If that is so, it is time for McCarthy to prove he means it.