The Gallup polling organization in July revealed findings showing a disturbing decline in confidence in U.S. institutions, and the average is at an all-time low. Specifically, American confidence in all three branches of the federal government fell relative to June 2021. When asked “Do you have a great deal” or “Quite a lot” of confidence in a number of institutions, noticeably fewer people responded in the affirmative this summer than in years past.
Results from June 2022 show confidence in the presidency is down 15%; in Congress, down 5%; and in the Supreme Court, down 11%. (This poll was taken before the high court’s landmark decision late June to strike down Roe vs. Wade and return the issue of abortion to the voters and legislators of the individual states.)
Moreover and remarkably, those who respond they have “a great deal” or “Quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers is only a mere 16% (-5 over last year) and in television news an anemic 11% (-5 over last year).
Against the backdrop of that declining trust in key American institutions, the FBI conducted a surprise raid at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s palatial, private residence in Palm Beach, Florida, on August 8. (The FBI is under the Justice Department, which is a part of the executive branch.) Notably, the former president was about 1,000 miles away from home, in New York City, at the time of the unannounced, nine-hour bust.
This is the the first time since our nation’s founding that a former president has had his private home searched by law enforcement, thus making the August 8 raid unprecedented in American history.
After a years-long saga that alleged Donald Trump had illegally colluded with Russia has been proven to be false, and now the Florida raid, many are wondering aloud if the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI are in fact impartial law enforcement bodies as they were created to be or have they now become taxpayer-funded arms of the government that have been weaponized to go after and silence political opponents, as one might expect in a dictatorship.
According to supporters of the raid, former President Trump allegedly took and has been holding documents since he left the White House on January 20, 2021, and has refused to give them to the National Archives. A government illegally holding official documents and materials is breaking the law, and can be sentenced to jail and barred from ever holding office again.
This unparalleled event has made headlines and sparked many conversations. Upon hearing this news, some in Southwest and Central Virginia are asking, “if the FBI entered Trump’s residence to seek missing documents, how do we explain Hillary’s missing and deleted emails, yet her home was never raided and she ran for the presidency? Or, how can Hunter Biden seemingly break drug and gun laws, and have shady business dealings that may be jeopardizing national security, yet he too is still on the loose?”
Notably, a recent poll found that almost four out of five Americans believe the US has a “two-tiered justice system.” Conducted in late July by the Trafalgar Group and the Convention of States Action, they summarized they “found 79 percent of likely U.S. voters interviewed believe ‘there are two tiers of justice: one set of laws for politicians and Washington D.C. insiders vs one set of laws for everyday Americans.’ Less than 12 percent reported the justice system serves all Americans equally and 9 percent were unsure.”
Notably, the survey was conducted between July 24-28, before the FBI’s unprecedented, controversial raid on the forty-fifth president’s home. Judging by the media firestorm since Monday, it is fair to expect the number may soon be over 79%.
In America, our system works because a workable majority of the citizens believe the system works and are willing to abide by it, win or lose. However, if large numbers of people lose faith and confidence in the structure, that could lead to very destabilizing and scary outcomes.
Our nation’s founders, aware of the fallenness of human nature and the fact that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” wisely set up a system of checks and balances and separation of powers. This arrangement, though of course never perfect, is built to keep too much power from accumulating in the hands of any one person or clique.
One key responsibility of the legislative branch (Congress) is to oversee the executive branch (the president and his administration). Therefore, The Roanoke Star reached out to four members of Virginia’s congressional delegation to print their responses, word for word, on this breaking news. Specifically, The Roanoke Star asked these members of Congress these same three questions, and their answers are given, unedited.
1. Do you have an official statement about the surprise FBI raid on August 8 on President Trump’s private residence?
2. Some readers may wonder why President Trump’s home was raided while Mrs. Clinton was able to put classified emails on a private server and delete them, and have no consequences, and the same goes for Hunter Biden and his questionable drug and gun use, and connections to foreign entities. How would you respond to readers who see this as a “two-tiered justice system”?
3. The raid came on August 8, one day after the Senate voted to approve the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Is the timing a coincidence, or do you believe it was political, so that the Senate could approve that key vote and then the FBI raid the next day?
Rep. Ben Cline (R) represents Virginia’s 6th Congressional District. That territory generally parallels I-81, with the Roanoke Valley on the south end and Winchester on the north. Seen as one of the most if not the most conservative of the Old Dominion’s 11 congressional districts, a staffer in Cline’s office directed The Roanoke Star to his August 8 Twitter posts, shared below:
“As a freshman member of the Judiciary Committee, I had a front row seat as Robert Mueller‘s fake ‘Russian Collusion’ charges fell apart.”
“Today’s raid by the FBI of President Trump’s home is unprecedented, and it reeks of more of the same – the continued weaponization of the Department of Justice to target a past and possibly future political opponent. That’s a story from a third world country; not from America.”
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R) represents Virginia’s 9th Congressional District. Long called “the Fighting Ninth” and anchored on the west along the Tennessee and Kentucky lines, the 9th had long covered far Southwest Virginia. However, with most of the Commonwealth’s population growth in Northern Virginia and along the coast, the 9th district has continually moved further and further east after each census. Therefore, after the 2020 tally, the Ninth’s eastern boundary will include more of the Roanoke Valley and even some points east. Many voters in parts of Cave Spring and Bedford County who used to be in the 6th or 5th districts will find themselves voting in the 9th this November for the first time.
Rep. Griffith issued these statements: “Raiding the home of a former president of the United States is an extraordinary action. The FBI and Department of Justice must offer an explanation immediately. Attorney General Garland and Director Wray cannot expect that Americans kept in the dark about their unprecedented choice will retain any faith in their impartiality.”
“I think Americans are right to be concerned about different standards for different political figures. I am troubled by this raid as another example of possible politicization by the FBI and DOJ, which is why their leadership need to be forthcoming about this case immediately. The rule of law depends on confidence that the law will be applied evenhandedly.”
“I don’t know why the raid was timed the way it was, but I am deeply disturbed by this action. If political factors are revealed to have influenced it in any way, the FBI and DOJ would need to be held accountable.”
Despite the serious and unprecedented nature of the FBI’s action yesterday, Virginia’s two US senators, Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D), have not responded with their statements as of publication time. Sen. Kaine was the running mate of Hillary Clinton in their failed bid for the White House in 2016.
As a politically-divided and economically-troubled nation grapples with this latest crisis, the issue of the August 8 FBI raid of former President Trump’s private residence is one more factor for voters to consider when they cast their ballots in the upcoming November midterm elections. With the US Senate in a 50-50 split where Vice President Kamala Harris (D) breaks ties, and the House of Representatives in a slender 220 Democrat majority vs. 210 GOP minority, future control of Congress will tell us if the Biden administration continues to operate with a free hand or will face greater scrutiny and regulation.