The FBI searched another Biden-related property on Wednesday, but found no classified documents of any kind. This is no surprise. According to multiple major news outlets, President Joe Biden wanted the search to happen, and helped facilitate it. Now Biden is getting headlines about how no classified documents were found there, which exonerates him in the court of public opinion. Which of course is the entire point. There’s no scandal here. There’s not even a story here. And Biden is taking steps to help put the whole thing quickly to bed.
Yet even as this major victory for Biden played out on Wednesday, far too many folks on our side missed the point entirely. Instead of helping spread and amplify the powerful messaging that Biden is in the process of being fully exonerated, a lot of folks spent the day complaining about how “unfair” it is that the Feds are searching more Biden properties than Trump properties. That narrative surely allowed these folks to feel righteous outrage. But it did nothing at all in terms of helping Biden.
Again, the story when it comes to Biden is that he wants his properties quickly searched, because he’s done nothing wrong, and he wants the Feds to announce that conclusion as quickly and neatly as possible. This has no correlation whatsoever to a completely different kind of storyline playing out with Donald Trump.
If Trump could get himself off the hook simply by asking the Feds to search his other properties, he’d have done it a long time ago. But he can’t himself off the hook by cooperating, because he’s already been caught stashing things like classified nuclear state secrets at Mar-a-Lago. He also told the Feds he had no remaining documents at Mar-a-Lago, only to then be caught rifling through those documents. Trump is already nailed on multiple charges, and at this point there’s nothing he can do to undo that. So of course he’s refusing to cooperate with the Feds. This is how these kinds of things always work.
Let’s be real here. The DOJ had no problem sending the FBI with a search warrant into Trump’s primary residence. So the notion that the DOJ is somehow pulling its punches when it comes to Trump’s other properties is laughable. The reality is that if the Feds had reason to believe there were classified documents at Trump’s other properties, they’d have expanded the warrant and gone in a long time ago. So this likely means the Feds have already concluded that there are not additional documents at Trump’s other properties, and therefore they don’t see any point in forcibly searching those properties, which would merely hand Trump a friendly news cycle about nothing being found there.
Keep in mind that according to multiple major news outlets and court-released documents, the DOJ cultivated sources inside Mar-a-Lago in order to help determine if there were classified documents inside and where specifically they were stashed. So it’s nearly a given that the DOJ also cultivated sources inside Trump’s other properties for the same reason. And the DOJ’s decision not to forcibly search those properties is a pretty good indicator that there aren’t documents there. And why would there be? Since leaving office, Trump has used Mar-a-Lago as his base of operations. Any classified documents he stole were surely routed and stashed there.
The part everyone seems to be missing is that if Trump stole these classified nuclear secrets and such for the purpose of selling them for cash or giving them to his longtime foreign benefactors, then the documents that weren’t recovered at Mar-a-Lago are instead in the hands of these bad actors. In the time since the Feds searched Mar-a-Lago, their criminal probe has almost certainly shifted focus toward tracking down any folks who received documents from Trump. And obviously, out of necessity, the DOJ isn’t going to let any such efforts make the news headlines while they’re still ongoing.
This is part of the problem that we find ourselves in. The federal government has likely spent the past few months carrying out covert and complicated international efforts to track down the classified documents that Trump managed to sell or give away before anyone knew that he’d stolen them – and even as this complex effort plays out behind the scenes, know-nothing know-it-all conspiracy theorists on Twitter are going viral by insisting the entire case could be cracked if the DOJ would simply dig up Ivana’s casket at Bedminster.
This all serves to underscore that two distinct worlds exist when it comes to these kinds of complex criminal probes. There’s what’s actually going on, in the real world, in accordance with how things actually work, most of which is complicated and nuanced and plays out behind the scenes. Then there’s the completely imaginary world where clowns on the internet compete with each other to see who can get the most retweets by floating the dumbest and most simplistic “clever” idea for how the case could be magically cracked. These two worlds, the real one and the imaginary one, tend to have zero overlap.
So it’s not surprising that so many folks on our side, who have long ago been sucked into the imaginary MSNBC-and-Twitter version of the DOJ’s Trump probe, are so far removed from how anything works that they can’t even wrap their heads around why President Biden scored a huge victory today by inviting the Feds in to search one of his properties. Nor can they seem to grasp why there’s simply no correlation between Biden inviting the Feds in to search his property so he can be quickly cleared, and the Feds having to take a much different approach to the criminal case that’s going to end up putting Trump on trial and in prison for the rest of his life.
Whining about unfairness is never, ever, ever, ever, ever a winning strategy in politics. Ever. It just paints your own side as a bunch of inept losers who don’t know how to win, which turns off persuadable voters in the middle. Nor is there any reason to ever try to draw any correlation between the legal process of being innocent and helping to get yourself quickly cleared, and the completely opposite legal process of being guilty and trying to avoid making it easier for the Feds to put you away.
Those on our side who are whining about the “unfairness” of the Feds searching more Biden properties than Trump properties are missing the mark in so many ways, it’s difficult to even count them all. It comes off as nothing more than yet another arbitrary excuse to declare defeat and whine about it, in order to feel as much outrage as possible. The trouble with outrage addicts is that, whether they consciously realize it or not, they want to lose so they can feel even more outrage – and that desire to lose governs every move they make and every word they speak.
It’s plainly obvious that the winning messaging on Wednesday was that Biden invited the Feds to search his property and they found nothing. That’s such a winning message, it’s worth its weight in gold. Biden and his allies certainly seized upon that winning messaging. But far too many folks on our side blew the opportunity to do the same, in favor of whining about how unfair it is for the sake of getting to feel outrage, and spinning laughable conspiracy theories about a casket for the sake of getting to feel smart. These are, bluntly, the losers we have to work around whenever we decide to put in the work to fight and win any given political battle. At some point we’re going to have to address just how badly these defeatist outrage addicts are hanging around our ankle like a ball and chain.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report