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Trump World hasn’t thought through its ‘planted evidence’ claim

The more Team Trump floats ideas about the FBI "planting" evidence, the easier it is to believe there was incriminating evidence at Mar-a-Lago.


UPDATE: (Aug. 12, 2022, 2:05 p.m. ET): NBC News on Friday obtained a copy of the warrant used in the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, as well as the related property receipt. The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents in the search, according to the documents.

For those outside the investigation, there’s no shortage of questions about the FBI executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago this week. We don’t yet know what the agents were looking for, what they found, or what they might’ve taken away.

But over the last 24 hours, some Republicans — none of whom appear to have any actual information upon which to base outlandish allegations — have raised the prospect of something altogether more sinister.

A Fox News host named Jesse Watters, for example, told his viewers, “What the FBI is probably doing is planting evidence.”

Some might say that he’s just some conservative media personality, so his baseless allegations against FBI agents are easy to brush off, but former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said something similar during an on-air appearance yesterday.

Some might also say that Gingrich’s relevance evaporated many years ago, but Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene added, “I think there is an extremely high probability that the FBI planted ‘evidence’ against President Trump.”

Some might also say that Greene is a fringe, right-wing lawmaker who’s impossible to take seriously, but two of Trump’s own attorneys — Christina Bobb and Alina Habba — both made conservative media appearances yesterday and also floated the possibility of the FBI planting evidence.

 Some might also say that these two lawyers are also relatively obscure figures in the political world, but as The Washington Post noted this morning, their client dipped his toes in the same waters this morning.

Former president Donald Trump raised the possibility Wednesday that FBI agents could have planted evidence while searching his residence earlier this week at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. In a post on Truth Social, his social media platform, Trump provided no evidence to back up the possibility but claimed that the FBI “would not let anyone, including my lawyers, be anywhere near the areas that were rummaged and otherwise looked at during the raid on Mar-a-Lago.”

Trump added, “Everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be left alone, without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting.’”

Let’s pause at this point to make two important truths perfectly clear. The first is that there’s literally no reason whatsoever to suspect the FBI agents themselves of criminal misconduct.

The second is that the only folks who peddle claims like these are those who are deeply afraid.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but the more Trump and his acolytes float ideas like these, the easier it is to believe there was incriminating evidence at Mar-a-Lago.

Update: Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who's long been a fan of assorted conspiracy theories, also argued this morning that there's no way to know whether FBI agents secretly added incriminating information to the materials taken from Mar-a-Lago.