Trump’s ‘stash of nuclear secrets’ is this summer’s Kremlin collusion conspiracy. But the latest chapter of Russiagate may end with a bang.
The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago feels like peak Russiagate. There’s the synchronized press hysteria, moving from one absurd end-of-America “bombshell” to the next, accompanied by dark intonations regarding secrets about to be revealed and blustering accusations of high treason. Donald Trump was said to be hoarding “nuclear documents,” which he planned to peddle for billions to the Saudis. Who’s buying the map of Fort Knox? Does Trump have access to Colonel Sanders’ secret fried chicken recipe, too?
It’s no laughing matter to the American press, or for the partisan operatives and national security bureaucrats who feed them their cues. For them, the Mar-a-Lago raid is Russiagate II: The Palm Beach Papers.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’ proposed damage assessment of the documents is a remake of the January 2017 intelligence community assessment which claimed, without evidence, that Vladimir Putin wanted to put Trump in the Oval Office. The extensive redactions on the affidavit the FBI used to get a warrant to raid Trump’s home are akin to the excessive redactions on the application that the FBI showed a secret court in 2016 to get a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. What was true for the original Russiagate holds here, too: The redactions are designed to hide not state secrets, but government corruption.
The Mar-a-Lago raid feels like Russiagate because, well, it is Russiagate: a conspiracy theory weaponized by the country’s courtier class to serve the interests of a delirious and deracinated oligarchy, spawning daily prophesies of doom fed by an endless supply of national security “leaks” asserting that the former commander-in-chief really was and is a secret Russian agent. And proof of the president’s treachery, chant the priestly keepers of the “collusion” mysteries, will soon be revealed to the public. It is their blanket justification for every past crime and every new banana republic-style abuse of power, accompanied by a drumbeat of ever more outlandish and violent threats.
It is in this context that the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago should be understood: Government records and reports from political and media operatives and bureaucrats who previously starred in Russiagate I give evidence that the FBI raided Trump’s home to seize documents exposing the crimes that the FBI and Justice Department have been committing since 2016. The fact that Russiagate shows no signs of ending anytime soon is bad news for the republic, betrayed from within by a performative elite whose ability to project power outside its gilded bubble requires a steady supply of paranoia, fear, and hysteria.
The story of the Mar-a-Lago raid begins at the end of Trump’s presidency, when he declassified documents related to Russiagate. Those records contain evidence of how the FBI spied on Trump’s campaign, presidential transition team, and administration. The documents reportedly include transcripts of FBI intercepts of Trump aides, a declassified copy of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to collect the electronic communications of Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, and reports regarding Christopher Steele and Stefan Halper, the two main confidential human sources used by the FBI to spy on Trump’s circle.
Kash Patel, who served in a variety of Pentagon roles and as a principal deputy in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration, has said that 60% of the documents related to Russiagate are already in public view. As lead investigator for the House Intelligence Committee’s probe of the FBI’s illegal investigation of the Trump campaign, Patel helped get vital Russiagate records declassified. When Trump named Patel to the ODNI post, he and acting Director Richard Grenell put more Russiagate documents before the U.S. public in 2020. Patel has told the press that what Trump declassified on Jan. 19, 2021, constitutes the remainder of the Russiagate records—which is what the FBI was apparently after.