Should the FBI have searched Trump's estate?

The US is in turmoil after the FBI searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The former president, who is also facing civil litigation against the Trump Organization, has accused President Joe Biden of being aware of the operation and his supporters have taken to the streets in protest. In Europe too, commentators take very different views of this unprecedented step.

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Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

A sign that the rule of law still prevails

The Tages-Anzeiger finds it reassuring that the judiciary is still able to act despite the enormously damage it suffered when Trump was president:

“And this damage is lasting, because the vast majority of Republicans play along with Trump's absurd circus of lies. ... Exponents of the party are vocally fuelling the widespread anger against the FBI, the Democrats and Joe Biden with their talk of a 'police state', a 'banana republic' and 'corrupt fascists'. ... They accept the threat of social unrest and even political violence. But to have decided against the house search in Mar-a-Lago would have been tantamount to capitulating to Trump and his anti-democratic movement. The FBI operation is therefore a vital sign of the American rule of law.”

Večernji list (HR) /

This move could backfire

The US Department of Justice is jeopardising its credibility, says Večernji list:

“The search at the ex-president's estate poses a high risk for the Department of Justice - this is the first time the private home of a former president has been searched. ... The decision to order the search puts the department's credibility at risk just a few months before the mid-term elections this autumn, at a time when the country remains deeply polarised. If the search for confidential documents fails and the prosecutor finds no solid evidence of a crime, the whole operation could prove to be yet another move against Trump that ends up backfiring.”

Echo24 (CZ) /

Turning into a banana republic

Commentator Daniel Kaiser fears the FBI was misused for political purposes. In Echo24 he writes:

“The Anglo-American populist Raheem Kassam wrote that if this had happened in any other country, the State Department would have already sent out a protest note and started funding the opposition. ... Break into the politician's house, search everything from the toilet to the safes, collect the materials in bags, leave - and then sift through them in the hope that they contain something substantial. This is a historic turn for the worse, Trump supporters are furious. Has America gone from being a beacon of freedom to a banana republic where the law depends on arbitrary political considerations?”

The Guardian (GB) /

A major blow to Trump's image

The 6 January hearings definitely had an impact on the authorities' decision, The Guardian says:

“The televised proceedings depicted a Trump who was deeply aware of the illegitimacy of his election fraud claims, eager to risk the safety of others by not calling off the attack, and petulant and childlike, to the point of throwing a plate laden with ketchup at the White House walls. The notion that the DOJ's changing posture toward Trump has nothing to do with these hearings strains credulity.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Not above the law

What is happening here is the investigation of serious and relevant suspected crimes, De Telegraaf stresses:

“Apparently, in the eyes of his supporters Trump is the only American above the law. The judiciary, of course, takes a different view. ... Trump allegedly took confidential presidential documents illegally from the White House. This constitutes a felony that can be punished with imprisonment as well as a ban from holding federal office. The latter penalty is explosive given the possibility of Trump entering the 2024 presidential race, and has prompted speculation about this being the end of his political career. That, however, is by no means a certainty as of yet.”