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GOP revives 'American carnage' campaign pitch after Mar-a-Lago search

After federal agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Republicans stoked fear among supporters in a familiar way.


In his 2017 inauguration speech, Donald Trump honed in on a grim message: The country had descended into a lawless hellscape — "American carnage," he called it — and people should be afraid. 

Trump, of course, was being hyperbolic. His descriptions of a nation in disarray sounded like scenes ripped from a post-apocalyptic film where he, richly, was cast as the savior. Since then, Trump and his right-wing backers have used cinematic portrayals of a country in decline as their modus operandi, a means of ginning up fear to accumulate power. 

Trump's 2020 campaign was essentially a rehash of that speech. Ahead of the primaries, conservatives revived the American carnage franchise with the help of some slickly and dubiously edited videos that depicted the United States as anarchical. And after federal agents on Monday executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, the GOP is fully onboard with Trump’s fear-mongering yet again. Brace yourselves for “American Carnage 3: Attack on Trump.” 

MSNBC Daily columnist Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director of counterintelligence, basically alluded to this on Monday’s episode of "The ReidOut" when he referred to “what’s coming next.” That is, “endless rhetoric from Donald Trump about how horrible the FBI is and how this is a targeted fishing expedition," Figliuzzi said.  

Monday was just a preview of the darkly dramatic scene Republicans are trying to depict. 

Trump’s official statement called the court-approved search an “assault” and claimed such a thing could only happen in “broken, third-world countries.” 

On Fox News, hosts and guests took turns trying to outdo one another’s hair-on-fire rhetoric about this being the end times of American democracy. 

Fox News host Dan Bongino got R-rated, and fact-free, with a rant that also related the search to behaviors of a “third-world” government. 

And right-wing commentator Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker, remixed the “third world” claims, suggesting the FBI was deploying “third world tactics worthy of Venezuela, or the East German Stasi, or Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe."

Several other Republicans got in on the act, claiming without evidence that the search warrant was unjust. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California was among them, issuing this threat to Attorney General Merrick Garland via what appears to be a screenshot from the iPhone Notes app.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' response to the Mar-a-Lago search was chock-full of unsubstantiated right-wing talking points.

All of this is part of Trump and the GOP’s overdone “American Carnage” trilogy. Nearly six years into the franchise, the story has gone stale. And if the search warrant is as damning as Republican outrage suggests it is, it may be time to roll the credits on Trump World for good.