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Of Course The Safe Was Empty

3:57 PM EDT on August 9, 2022

Mar-a-Lago, photographed from across the road
Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach social club that doubles as Donald Trump's Florida residence, reportedly in search of information and evidence related to Trump's (mis-)handling of classified material during and after his presidency.

Some background on this: When Trump left office back in January of 2021, a bunch of documents reportedly went with him that should by law have gone to the National Archives. When the National Archives finally got ahold of that stuff this past winter—some 15 boxes worth of documents and other items—officials reportedly discovered that some of it was super-duper classified. This fit with a known pattern of Trump mishandling, or in some cases casually tearing up, sensitive documents throughout his presidency. So far nobody has said exactly what the feds were looking for in Monday's raid, but you can imagine nobody being in too huge a hurry to take Literally The Most Corrupt Man In America's word for it vis-a-vis whether everything improperly taken to Mar-a-Lago has found its way back into official hands. To get a warrant, the FBI would have had to convince a federal judge that the stuff they sought was at Mar-a-Lago.

In some saner version of the world I guess it would come as no surprise that the federal police might want to poke around the home of Literally The Most Corrupt Man In America, but then again in that world Literally The Most Corrupt Man In America probably wouldn't ever have been elected president, and might at some point have faced some shame or sanction for all the corrupt things he does. Here in this world, though, it is at least mildly surprising to see this happening, in large part because most of Donald Trump's interactions with FBI agents involve them cheering for him at his campaign rallies. As it happened, Trump was in New York when the bureau raided Mar-a-Lago; I suppose that spared some number of agents the possibly awkward choice between investigating the man and asking for a selfie.

In any event, the feds came and grabbed some stuff and left. In his response, Trump displayed the poise and rhetorical discipline that have long been his trademark. "They even broke into my safe!" he announced, in the notably lengthy and predictably frantic public statement denouncing the raid. They even broke into his safe. On top of everything else, the federal investigators looking for illegally mishandled classified information dared look in the designated special hiding-things box in his residence. Were they tipped off or something? It's an outrage!

The broad comedy of all this is hard to miss, but the very entire idea of Donald Trump even having a safe is funny, to me. I do not doubt that he has one, or several; I do not doubt that many lawyers and handlers have enumerated to him any number of valuable and/or incriminating things that he should put into a safe, directly before dropping that safe into the Mariana Trench, while Trump sat there nodding and squinting and saying "terrific" while thinking only of the 1983 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Hours of his days, for years, have been spent getting this kind of advice.

At a fundamental level, nothing could be more contrary to the man's character than the idea of putting something—anything—worth keeping secret into a locked box where no one can see it, and then not immediately boasting to the whole world of having done so. Donald Trump is not capable of having in his possession any precious or sensitive or titillating thing without flaunting it; he does not understand any other reason for having any precious or sensitive or titillating thing. What the haters and losers cannot see and envy, they must hear about, at length, and envy; otherwise it has no value whatsoever. The liberal anti-Americans at the failing New York Times would love to get their hands on Heather Locklear's pager number, but I have just locked it into my safe here at Mar-a-Lago, the most secure safe available on the market! It'd be all Trump could do to resist posting a photograph of the number, like a kidnapping victim holding up a copy of today's paper to go with the ransom demand. "If you've got it, flaunt it" is less a bit of tacky advice where Trump is concerned than it is an autonomic response.

Appropriately, then, Eric Trump, who unlike his father was present at Mar-a-Lago during the raid, told Fox News's Sean Hannity that the safe in question was empty. In this rare instance I believe him, fully; even if the safe were not literally without contents, I simply cannot imagine it containing anything more notable than, like, paper napkins. Some pairs of socks. Picture some grave-faced FBI agent reaching into the depths of an extravagantly gilded safe, and extracting a dusty sealed tub of McDonald's barbecue sauce from 1987; shaking their head in bafflement and tossing the barbecue sauce tub onto the growing pile of McDonald's barbecue sauce tubs from 1987 already pulled from the safe.

That, to me, seems infinitely more plausible than the safe containing some shocking criminal shit. This is not, I hasten to add, because Donald Trump is not into deeply criminal shit! It's because the only things he could conceive a reason to hide are those that do not flatter his pursuit to be America's Number One Man. The reason to have a safe is to show everyone what a tremendous safe you have. Forget the contents; it doesn't even need to have an inside at all to contain all there is to know about Donald Trump.

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