Rather than sink Donald Trump, the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid could save him | Arwa Mahdawi

DDonald Trump did nothing wrong! The enduring martyr and former US President is so keen to let us know he is the innocent victim of yet another witch hunt that he continues to release juicy details about his legal troubles on his social media platform Truth Social. “Wow!” he announced on Monday. “During the Mar-a-Lago raid, they stole my three passports (one of which expired), along with everything else.”

Wow, indeed. First, we discover that the search of Trump’s property in Florida was partly carried out under the Espionage Act and may involve nuclear weapons; now Trump is insinuating that the FBI considers him a flight risk.

In the old days, this would be called an end-of-career situation. In today’s hellish world, however, some feel that this trouble point is exactly what Trump’s waning popularity needs. Rather than dashing new political ambitions, a federal investigation is said to be an ideal way to agitate Trump’s base and bring him back to the White House in 2024.

Much of this rhetoric comes from the right: many conservative media outlets are furious that Trump does not appear to be above the law. “The return on investment from Mar-a-Lago will be brutal,” said a Wall Street Journal editorial. “The FBI is already interfering in the 2024 election,” Townhall stammered. “Completely recovered [Trump] a lifeline,” a Republican strategist told Politico.

But it’s not just the right that thinks the FBI’s investigation of Trump is ill-advised: a number of Reasonable Centrists™ think so too. “Did the FBI just re-elect Donald Trump? wrote New York Times columnist David Brooks after the Mar-a-Lago raid. “Several weeks ago, about half of Republican voters were willing to quit Trump, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll,” Brooks noted. “This week the whole party seemed to rally behind him.”

So, will his being investigated under the Espionage Act help Trump or hurt him? I am not taking sides in this debate. You know why? Because if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things can change in an instant and predictions are for fools. The fact that this absurd debate continues, however, speaks volumes about the extent to which norms have been shattered. Trump may never run the United States again, but he changed it forever.

Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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