US partisan struggle further escalates, 'political system more dysfunctional' as Trump's Mar-a-Lago searched by FBI
Published: Aug 09, 2022 08:51 PM Updated: Aug 09, 2022 11:56 PM
Former US president Donald Trump points at the end of a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, the US, on December 5, 2020. Photo: VCG

Former US president Donald Trump points at the end of a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, the US, on December 5, 2020. Photo: VCG

The US partisan struggle between Democrats and Republicans has been further escalated after Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's resident in Florida, was searched by the FBI on Monday local time as part of an investigation into whether the former president "took classified records from the White House" during his term. Chinese experts and netizens are also paying close attention to the case with analysts saying the US democratic system might be more dysfunctional and the chaos like the Capitol Hill incident in 2021 will likely repeat with the upcoming midterm elections as well as the next presidential election in 2024. 

The Democrats are facing a dim election prospect, as US President Joe Biden is failing to solve economic problems at home and struggling with a diplomatic issue abroad sparked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit to the island of Taiwan. The international community is watching in despair and confusion at US' troubled policies. Many experts believe the Democrats will likely lose badly in the midterm elections this year and the 2024 presidential election despite the current investigation against Trump. Republicans, the experts continue, will revenge once they regain political power, and Biden's son Hunter Biden could be the most likely target.  

The US media also shared similar concerns. The AP said the FBI investigation move against Trump "represents a dramatic and unprecedented escalation of law enforcement scrutiny of the former president." 

Trump confirmed that FBI agents were at Mar-a-Lago and said "they even broke into my safe." The former president was at Trump Tower in New York when the search warrant was executed in Florida, a person familiar with the matter told CNN. "My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents," Trump said in a statement Monday evening.

The extraordinary move to search the home of a former president raises the stakes for the Justice Department and comes as Trump's legal problems continue on multiple fronts. Trump is also expected in the coming months to announce he will launch another bid for the US president in 2024, CNN reported.

Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that "this case is a bit surprise for the Democrats' campaign. Previously, Democrats targeted Trump in mainly two cases - the investigation about the storming on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters in January 2021, and the investigation on Trump and his family members' tax and loan issues conducted by New York State, but these two efforts have seen limited progress, said Lü.

According to the relevant law of the US on official or judicial records and reports, "Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States."

So the latest move is a new threat to Trump, but to what extent the investigation result will impact Republicans remains a question, said analysts, noting that this is a classic tactic to serve the party's election purpose, and just like the Hillary Clinton email scandal during the 2016 presidential election, Republicans have also used similar tactics to attack Democrats in the past, but once the election is over and one party wins over the other, such investigations will be pushed aside until the next election comes. 

A Beijing-based expert on international relations who asked for anonymity said that this will further escalate the conflict between the two parties of the US, saying the ruling party always weaponizes the "judicial and law-enforcement" authorities to crackdown on the opposition with everything they have, he said. 

Americans will keep having a dysfunctional country caused by endless partisan struggle, he said, adding that "With the worsening political environment, if US lawmakers one day physically fight with each other in the Capitol Hill, I won't be surprised." 

Worsening political environment

Leading political figures and former officials of the Republican Party have voiced their strong opposition on the Department of Justice searching Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence and threatened to revenge the Democrats after they take over power in the future. 

Kevin McCarthy, a Republican leader and Representative of California's 23rd District in the House of Representatives, also accused The Department of Justice on Twitter of having reached "an intolerable state of weaponized politicization." McCarthy further threatened Attorney General Garland that Republicans will "conduct immediate oversight of the department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned" when the Republican Party takes back the House. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago is "another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves," adding that the Biden administration has made the US a "Banana Republic."

Marco Rubio, Republican Senator of Florida, publicly denounced the raid on Twitter and criticized Biden for "playing with fire" as using a document dispute with the support of the Department of Justice to persecute a likely future election opponent.

Mike Pompeo, former state secretary served in the Trump administration, also criticized the FBI investigation on Trump. "I served on Benghazi Com (US House select committee to investigate the 2012 Attack in Benghazi) where we proved Hillary [Clinton] possessed classified info. We didn't raid her home," Pompeo tweeted.

Lü said most Republicans decided to ally themselves with Trump long ago due to the irreplaceable and unshakable political influence and high popularity that Trump holds among conservative American voters, adding that they will try their best to voice their support to the former president and criticize the Biden administration and Democrats.

"Democrats, especially Biden, needs to be aware that they are not clean, and it's a pretty sure bet the Republicans will take over the House after the midterm election, so Biden will have a difficult second half of his term, and he also needs to take the risk of revenge from the Republicans."

Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "such investigation against a former president in the US is unusual, but to what extent the investigation has been driven by political reason needs further observation as the investigation result is not clear yet."

If the investigation ends with the result that Trump is not guilty, the former president will sure make the best use of it to reinforce his "positive image" among his supporters and try to make more neutral or wavering voters to believe he has been targeted and prosecuted by the Democrats for political reason, Shen noted.

If the investigation finds Trump guilty, he will surely appeal and bring the case to the Supreme Court, where Trump and the Republicans might have more supporters than Democrats as Trump nominated three supreme court justices, said analysts, noting that one thing is certain - the dysfunction of US political system is worsening, and the massive conflicts like the Capitol Hill chaos in 2021 will likely happen again. 

Zhu Haoning also contributed to the story