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"Defund the FBI" is the new "stop the steal"

"Defund the FBI" is the new "stop the steal"
Defund The FBI Is The New Stop The Steal | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and want to spend just a couple of moments on the FBI heading into Mar-a-Lago, the resident of former President Trump just yesterday. Absolutely unprecedented news, something we haven't seen before in US history. Trump came out and immediately said, "Nothing like this has happened against a President before." And that is true. He is a unique President in many ways, and that has seen unique consequences, both in terms of the events of January 6th and two impeachments that succeeded in the House and then failed to convict. All of that is unprecedented.

Impeachment has become truly failed as a political mechanism. That is also new in the United States. And now we have the FBI heading into his home and taking boxes and boxes of classified documents out of the safe. Now, legally, we don't have much real information yet, and we probably won't for some time. We don't know what's in the safe. We don't know exactly what the case is that is being argued. We do know the Department of Justice would've had to make a strong argument to get a judge to approve a warrant as opposed to just going for a subpoena for the information. And I'm no lawyer and I have no idea to judge the merits of the case that the judge him or herself would've had to make that decision on so we're going to have to wait to make a reasonable and useful judgment there.

And those political figures that are coming out immediately in saying it's a witch hunt and it's weaponization of the FBI when, by the way, the head of the FBI today, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump and nobody has quit over these investigations, and there have been no leaks that have suggested they are in any way untoward. All of that is partisan BS. It's not credible. It's just point scoring. So if that's a legal side where everything seems to be above board and legit, we have no basis to make judgements about the case itself at this point. Politically, it's a very different matter. Politically, of course, we are going to see two very different worldviews where those that are supporters of Trump will be incredibly strongly opposed and view this as a witch hunt and view the FBI and the DOJ as partisan and directly acting on the orders of President Biden, again, despite the fact that there's no credible information that yet in any way points to that.

But I do think that politically, this is going to strengthen Trump in the Republican Party, strengthen with his base, and also strengthen those leaders of the Republican Party, his support from them who really don't want him to be the next nominee, but are stuck with him at this point. Let's keep in mind, it's the opposite of what had been happening over the last few months with fewer people showing up at his rallies, with less media attention, with January 6th and the hearings going on in the House and Fox and others deciding not to even cover them and not really talking about them. The narrative was on one side politically with the Democratic Party and the very few never-Trumpers among Republican leadership. And now you have this need for everyone on the Republican Party to rally behind and around Trump and say, "This is a witch hunt and this is unacceptable."

And that's just as true for Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader in the House as it is for Ron DeSantis, who clearly does not want Trump to be the nominee. DeSantis wants to be the nominee, but he now has to say, "This is unacceptable and we need to support Trump." And he's in an impossible position for him, but going after Trump in this environment if you're a Republican is tantamount to being a traitor to your party. So I do think that at least over the course of the next few months as this plays out the ability of Trump to drive a stronger drumbeat to get more people out to support him and out to fight the fight against the Democrats and against Biden and against the FBI and against the rule of law and the institutions in the United States that Trump says is broken. I mean, in many ways, every much the argument that he made with "Stop the Steal," despite there being absolutely no credible evidence that the election was stolen, he now has a new lease on that argument.

"Stop the Steal" was getting old. People didn't want to re-litigate and rehash that unless you were a die-hard Trump loyalist, but now you have the FBI and the DOJ going into Mar-a-Lago and creating this case against the former president. And that's going to be seen as an absolutely equivalent to "the election's fake" and it's going to bring up all of the "Biden should be in prison" and "Hillary should be in prison". And that's what this is all about. It's just partisan, the Democrats going after the former president irrespective. Now, I think it should go without saying that none of this today, none of it could happen in any other advanced industrial democracy in the world. It's conceivable that we would see this in Japan, or Germany, or Canada, Australia, or France, and that is precisely because the United States and its political process, its election system, and the checks and balances by both the legislature and the judiciary on the executive has become massively eroded.

And the perception of the legitimacy of those institutions among the media, which has become almost completely partisan, and among the population, which has been consumed by that media on one side or the other, is far, far greater than we could see in another wealthy democracy. And that goes to show that the US as a democracy really isn't the same as these other countries anymore. It was 30 years ago, 20 years ago. It's not anymore. And that's a challenge, that's a challenge for the Americans to be able to get allies to pay attention and to be aligned and to coordinate. And it's also a problem in the Americans being effective in preventing rogue states and rogue organizations from taking actions globally that undermine the United States and undermine former US led global order. The US is still the most powerful country in the world, but politically it really doesn't have the strength, the ability to lead by example, the values that it's had historically.

My view on all of this is I absolutely want the former president to be indicted if the DOJ believes that he has broken the law. And I would say that about any other former president as well. I certainly do not believe nor have I seen anything credible that implies that Biden has broken the law the way that there are many such instances of Trump. I do believe that "Hunter Biden" should be investigated. I've said it before. I think that the role he's had, not just in Ukraine, but in China, where he was traveling on Air Force Two and using his connections, his relationship with the then vice president to make money out of China absolutely does not pass the ethics test and deserves a full investigation. I felt the same way about Ivanka and all the licenses that she was getting from China while holding an official position in the White House and the daughter of the president at that point of the United States.

I see those things as very equivalent and very problematic, and they should be investigated, but we're not talking about those things. We're talking about the former president of the United States, and I think that's more important. And, frankly, I personally hold that to a higher standard. And so if we have a legal and judicial process that believes that there have been high crimes committed, then absolutely I do not want that former president to be seen as above the law. And my concern is that it's not just about the perception of American legal and judicial institutions having eroded, and they have. It's also the desire for the former president to be above the law that is driving a large number of people that know better to say that this is politicized, that this is not an appropriate following of legal and judicial process, and, that of course, is doing a lot more damage to American democracy.

I expect that there will be violence as a consequence of this. I expect that this will make the upcoming midterm elections uglier and more de-legitimized. And it certainly concerns me a great deal as we get closer to 2024.

So that's what I think about all of this and I hope everyone is getting in a little R&R in the middle of August. No rest for the wicked. And, of course, August never as quiet, quite as you want it to be. Talk to you all real soon.


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