Just over two weeks removed from the court-approved FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Rep. Mike Turner has emerged as one of the most vocal — and futile — defenders of the former president.
Turner, R-Ohio, is doing an awful job trying to justify Trump’s behavior publicly, which — if past is prologue — suggests he's ready to join Trump's legal team. After all, Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani set the lowest of bars.
Turner's impressive list of lowlights from his recent media blitz features floating theories about the FBI search so absurd they sound like they’re coming from Trump himself.
Let’s reflect on the past two weeks. Mike Turner: This is your life.
Turner really got cooking on the Trump defense tour at a news conference days after the Mar-a-Lago search. On Aug. 12, responding to reports that Trump was suspected of having taken nuclear documents, Turner suggested “classified” is a broad term. Such documents are so loosely handled that virtually anyone can access them with their mobile devices, he seemed to suggest.
In other words: Nothing to see here!
Turner leaned on that defense throughout his remarks, claiming the documents Trump had might not have been that serious and wondering aloud why a search was even necessary.
But sources told The New York Times that Trump took piles of top secret documents to his estate, sifted through the boxes himself and refused to return them when officials demanded they be given back. Not a great look for Turner.
Some of you may also remember CNN's Brianna Keilar’s torching Turner in an interview Aug. 14. Turner — under pressure — was forced to stray from GOP talking points and admit he, unlike Trump, doesn’t take classified documents home. In the same interview, Turner danced around a question about whether he had evidence to back up his suggestions that Trump’s possession of the documents posed no national security risk.
"Well, that's what's so great about this," responded Turner. “We don’t have to speculate."
Referring to Attorney General Merrick Garland, he added: “All Attorney Garland has to do is comply with the laws, provide this information to us. Let us look. Show us the goods.”
I'll take that as a "no" on evidence, then.
Even after that pitiful performance, Turner stumbled onward in his Trump defense tour.
Just last week, CNN host Jake Tapper caught Turner mid-interview pushing a false claim about FBI Director Christopher Wray, whom conservatives are targeting after the Mar-a-Lago search. Alluding to Wray and Garland, Turner said: “It’s the leadership. It’s the two individuals that have been appointed by this president.”
The problem? Trump appointed Wray back in 2017.
Turner claimed President Joe Biden’s choice not to fire Wray was the same as appointing him, meaning he’s either a liar or incapable of understanding what “appointed” means. Either way, once more: Not a good look for Turner.
And the excuse he offered Sunday may well be his worst yet. On CBS News' "Face the Nation," Turner suggested Trump may have needed to take the documents with him to write a memoir. Asked why Trump would need the documents, Turner said: “[Y]ou have to ask him. But certainly, we all know that every former president has access to their documents. It’s how they write their memoirs.”
Trump isn’t known to be writing a memoir. And I strain to imagine him even having the focus to do such a thing.
But truth or believability aren’t the point for Turner. The intent behind his absurd claims isn’t to convince — it’s to give a cornered former president pretense to attack law enforcement. And Turner is happy to play his role.