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Why Trump’s latest rhetoric about Clinton emails is so weird

Donald Trump keeps saying the FBI might've sought Hillary Clinton emails at Mar-a-Lago. That's utterly bizarre, even for him.


It was deeply odd to hear Donald Trump tell Fox News last night that he had the authority to declassify documents “by thinking about it.” But as part of the same exchange with Sean Hannity, the former president shared a related thought about the FBI’s search at Mar-a-Lago:

“There’s also a lot of speculation because of what they did, the severity of the FBI coming and raiding Mar-a-Lago, were they looking for the Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted but they are around someplace?”

At that point, the host, apparently eager to help his guest, intervened to say that he wasn’t storing Clinton emails at his Florida property. The Republican responded that federal law enforcement officials “may have thought” that Clinton emails were at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump added, “And a lot of people said the only thing that would give the kind of severity that they showed by actually coming in and raiding with many, many people, is the Hillary Clinton deal.”

For the record, I couldn’t help but love the former president’s insistence that there’s “a lot of speculation” about the FBI seeking Clinton emails at Mar-a-Lago. That's plainly false. What we instead have is a former president who keeps bringing it up, despite the obvious fact that it’s stark raving mad.

If I tell a bunch of people that I might be the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins this weekend, I don’t get to then say, “There’s a lot of speculation that I’ll be leading the team on Sunday.” There is no such speculation. There’s just me peddling absurd claims about my athletic prowess.

As for the underlying argument itself, it’s a doozy. As we recently discussed, the FBI went to a court for a search warrant and pointed to a series of important statutes. But to hear Trump tell it, maybe the FBI was actually expecting to find emails belonging to the former secretary of state — who left office a decade ago, and who lives 1,200 miles away — at her former rival’s glorified country club.

In reality, no one in federal law enforcement is looking for Clinton emails — at Mar-a-Lago or anywhere else. So what in the world is the former president talking about?

Maybe he’s just trying to bring his former Democratic rival into the conversation? Maybe, as Greg Sargent suggested, Trump wants us to believe FBI agents planted Clinton emails at his property?

Your guess is as good as mine.