The Trump team’s many claims on classified documents at Mar-a-Lago

When the FBI executed a search warrant (not a raid, as Trump’s text to me claims) of classified documents at the former president’s Mar-A-Lago resort, we’ve been given myriad of reasons for why Donald Trump did what he did, even as he’s facing the likelihood of some serious legal trouble.

1) These documents were taken by accident in the January chaos

The first excuse given was that it was a chaotic time in the White House in the final days. It turns out that the president really did expect to stay in office past Jan. 6, further evidence for the committee, and only had a short time to pack. The process was pretty frantic, with aides throwing material into boxes to ship to Mar-A-Lago. This led defenders of the ex-president to claim it was all just an accident. The wrong things were mistakenly taken. Other defenders say it’s hard to know what’s classified and what isn’t sometimes. This excuse is invalidated by the fact that these documents were demanded back as long ago as May. Negotiations had been going on with Trump’s lawyers, and still nearly a dozen boxes of classified documents were at the former President’s private residence.

2) These documents were planted by the FBI

This popular accusation has made the rounds, according to Media Matters, by Trump’s defenders in the media. It’s been invalidated not only by the surveillance evidence, watched by Trump family members, but also every other excuse listed below.

3) Trump was just bringing his work home, like so many hard-working Americans

Amazingly, this new line of Trump defense is trying to flip this to show a bond between Trump and working Americans, bringing work to a golf course and resort. But this argument has no shortage of flaws. First of all, Trump was no longer president, so it’s not “his work” anymore. Also, when you “bring your work home” and the boss doesn’t give permission to do so, that’s a problem. When you refuse to give back those company secrets you took home to your corporation, bad things happen, at least to most Americans.

4) Other presidents took home classified documents

Very quickly, this frequently used “Whataboutism” excuse attempts to claim “everybody does it.” He claimed, without evidence, that Obama took hundreds of millions of documents with him to Chicago, “How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!” And “The Intercept” rushed in to assert that LBJ had done the same when leaving office. Let me know if the excuse “others speed too” gets you out of a ticket.

5) These documents were declassified by Trump

This final “Trump Card” was used by the former president, who claimed to have a “standing order” that any document he actually read would be considered declassified. This argument is undermined by the fact that there is an official procedure for declassification, which doesn’t appear to be followed. Moreover, some U.S. government documents can’t be declassified, no matter what Trump thinks.

Undoubtedly, there will be more such arguments, perhaps claims these documents will be personally confidential, or involve Hunter Biden, and maybe Hillary’s emails. This is just what I have at the writing of this column.

I pray that any damage which may have been done by this potential breach of information is minimal, that our enemies won’t have access to any important data to undermine this country.

Opinion contributor John A. Tures is a politcal science professor at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. His work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at His Twitter account is @JohnTures2.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s why Republicans are terrified of offending Trump and his political supporters

Earlier this year, the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) held a conference titled "American Uncanceled." Organizers attempted to showcase how their political opponents are the intolerant, and that conservatives were the true defenders of the ability to speak their minds. But what would happen when House Republicans would vote on a conservative Trump critic? And what do surveys say about how the GOP faithful deal with criticism of Trump, compared to how Democrats deal with critiques of Biden?

A CPAC organizer claimed "The radical left will not tolerate any dissenting point of view." Another organizer argued "contemporary moral panic-mongers are redoubling their bullying to cleanse the culture of what they consider unacceptable opinion, which often, simply means 'conservative,'" he argued. He claimed that the hunted prey includes supporters of Donald Trump. "That is the most un-American thing I can imagine. Our nation was founded on the idea that people who disagree can still be part of a civil society."

Ironically, just before the conference, an anti-Semitic speaker was canceled before his speech. I agree with the decision to not reward these words with a prime speaking spot. But after boasting about that America uncanceled position, it was an awkward moment for the organizers.

Then came May 11, and the House Republican voice vote to purge Rep. Liz Cheney from the party's House Leadership team. There was no secret ballot or even a public discussion or debate. Some members hadn't even arrived before Cheney's ouster began. Back in February of 2021, Rep. Cheney won her House leadership position with a secret ballot by a 145-61 margin. But to support Cheney out loud in conference would be a kiss of death, according to Donald Trump Jr.

Liz Cheney wasn't dumped because she's insufficiently conservative or even holds different policy views from Trump (they are a 93% match). Her reported successor is far-less conservative. But Cheney criticized Trump's speech before the January 6 Insurrection, and doesn't believe in the conspiracy theory that claims the 2020 election was "stolen." Perhaps CPAC leaders are right…true conservatives like Cheney are going to be targeted.

"What a lot of folks are starting to realize here in the States is that President Trump really is the Republican Party," a Trump advisor said in an interview before CPAC.

The Pew Research Center found that only 43 percent of those who claim to be Republican, or lean Republican, say that elected officials who criticize Trump should be accepted within the GOP. For conservatives, it's only 37% who will be very or even somewhat acceptant of elected officials who criticize Trump.

More than two-thirds of Democrats or those who lean Democratic say that the Democratic Party should be very or at least somewhat accepting of elected officials who openly criticize Joe Biden. For self-described liberals, that Pew Research Center survey says that 73% of them tolerate such criticism of President Biden.

Some Republicans are aware of the drag Donald Trump's been on the party. He's the first major presidential candidate to finished second twice in a row in the popular vote for president since Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s. He's cost the GOP their control of the House, and now the Senate. He shifted the Republican Party brand away from their ideology of economic freedom and a foreign policy of standing up to authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea. But party members are terrified of offending him and his political supporters, the majority of whom do not support any criticism of the former president.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

The YouCoup: How the attack on the US Capitol resembles narcissistic terrorism

At first glance, one might think the attackers of the U.S. Capitol have little in common with ISIS or Al-Qaeda. But they are both cut from the same cloth: narcissistic terrorists who see vindication not in their purported ideology, but in a belief system where they see themselves as the center of attention, capturing their exploits on video to broadcast to the world via social media. Thus, the events of January 6, 2021 can be called "The You-Coup."

Only slightly less shocking than the assault on the U.S. Capitol was how many of them livestreamed their own participation in their bid to destroy the American legislature as members officially counted the ballots for the 2020 Election. There was little attempt to wear practical masks, or much of an attempt to disguise oneself among the mob. Perhaps some thought in the new authoritarian system that would replace the U.S. Constitution, that they would be regarded as heroes and wouldn't face accountability. But for most, it didn't matter if their own video would lead to their incarceration, loss of a job, and potential family estrangement. For the narcissist, public attention and adoration matter more.

Having a manifesto is nothing new. After all, the Unabomber of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s had one. But he took many steps to conceal his identity and didn't seem to relish the spotlight upon capture, having hidden from all society. Though an ideologue, he did seem to enjoy taunting law enforcement in their inability to capture him for so long.

But the modern-day terrorist seems less interested in the ideology, which is more of a means to an end. Personal fame and power appear to be the real goals. Though bragging about their efforts to combat nebulous human trafficking and unsubstantiated pedophilia of Pizzagate fame, for example, few of these QAnons express sympathy for kids incarcerated at the border in cruel circumstances, or the disappearance of a number of these migrant children.

Nowadays, you're not among the cool killers unless you have your own uploaded rationale for all to read on social media. And technology has enabled these contemporary narcissistic terrorists to film themselves slaughtering others. We used to think that Al-Qaeda assassins and ISIS cutthroats were broadcasting their beheadings for Islam, to intimidate the West into leaving their homelands. But a closer scrutiny of the perpetrators reveal that they cared more about self-glorification and hero worship, with belief system or defending others in their country a distant second or third at best.

And those who hate Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, or Jews, are united with these Middle East terrorists in the common goal of getting more clicks, or one's name and image and audiovisual actions in front of as many people as possible, a means of compensating for a life of average anonymity. The Norwegian killer of kids on an island wanted to behead the former Prime Minister on live broadcast, but settled for shooting down youngsters. The Charleston Church executioner made his own website justifying his hatred of blacks. The El Paso Wal-Mart shooter posted his white supremacist screed online before gunning down Hispanic shoppers. The California Synagogue anti-Semite broadcast his attack, noting his admiration for the New Zealander who killed 50+ Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, all livestreamed. Ditto the Austin Bomber, who videoed his final message. Without the heroic defense of many in the Capitol Police, we probably would have been shown images of zip-tied representatives executed on a live broadcast, as the so-called heroes of their own fantasy can enact revenge for not being more popular earlier in life.

"Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pervasive grandiosity, an extreme desire for attention, a sense of entitlement, a willingness to exploit or mistreat others, an excessive need for admiration and a lack of empathy," writes Anne Manne with The Guardian. "Yet narcissists can be fragile too and prone to outbursts of humiliated rage. Their grandiose self-beliefs are built on foundations as solid as quicksand, hence the need for constant admiration and attention, shoring up their unstable sense of self."

Manne continued "Psychologists warn that narcissism is on the increase. Invisibility is a central terror of the narcissist, and in our world of hyper-individualism, the competitive pursuit of attention produces winners and losers, those who painfully feel passed over and excluded. One response to the shame of exclusion and marginalisation is violence, which enacts revenge at the same moment that it lifts the person out of oblivion." Could the tools of social media be exacerbating not just the desire to act out these fantasies, but the means to show them to others?

That's perhaps why the biggest vitriol by the attackers (ISIS, mass murderers, Capitol attackers) doesn't involve prison time, but a loss of a platform on Parler, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Even if they create their own system or develop a new one, it just means only a handful of watchers. Returning to that anonymity is the most terrifying punishment most of them can experience.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

Trump has suffered a stunning drop in approval among Republican voters

A poll after the violent events at the U.S. Capitol shows that Donald Trump is still the GOP frontrunner for the 2024 election, with 40 percent of the vote. But in reality, it demonstrates how much support he's lost in the Republican Party, in such a short time frame. It's hard to believe that just a year ago, he had a 90 percent approval rating among Republicans.

On January 6, 2020, Donald Trump was the darling of the Republican Party. As The Hill reported "President Trump's approval rating has hit a record high among his supporters in the latest Hill-HarrisX poll released on Monday. Of those surveyed, 90 percent of Republicans said they approve of Trump's job performance, compared to just 10 percent who did not have a favorable view of the president. That is the highest favorable rating among Republicans in the Hill-HarrisX poll since it began asking the question in 2018."

At that time, Trump was grappling with questions about the killing of an Iranian General in Iraq, and dealing with a U.S. Senate trial after the House Impeachment in the wake of his phone call to Ukraine. Overall, his approval rating in the country was 47 percent (down a pair of points).

Even after the 2020 Election, failed legal challenges and a laser-like focus on overturning the results, at the expense of fighting COVID-19 and saving the economy, Trump still remained the preferred choice of the GOP faithful for 2024.

According to ex-Democratic Party strategist and White House adviser Dick Morris, Trump was a lock to win the GOP nomination in 2024, in an end of 2020 interview with Newsmax. "Pointing to a Gallup poll published earlier in the day that showed Trump as the most admired man in America, which followed a Rasmussen survey Monday that found 72% of Republicans wanted the party to be more like the president, Morris said he was a virtual shoo-in," according to WMAL.

When it came to matching up with other Republicans, the New York Post revealed that Trump would win the 2024 nomination, according to a November 24, 2020 poll by Politico and Morning Consult. "A survey of 765 GOP voters, released Tuesday by Politico and Morning Consult, found Trump with 53 percent support — vastly ahead of potential GOP competitors. Vice President Mike Pence was the preference of 12 percent of Republicans and Trump's eldest son and campaign surrogate Donald Trump Jr. came in third with 8 percent." The same November poll showed Trump with a 43% approval rating overall, and a 56% disapproval rating.

But after giving a politically-charged speech before the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, it's clear that Donald Trump's approval among Republicans continues to crater. "Forty-two percent of GOP voters said in a new Morning Consult/Politico survey that they would vote for Trump if the 2024 Republican presidential primary were held today, down 12 percentage points from a Nov. 21-23 poll. The latest poll was conducted Jan. 8-11 among 595 Republican voters, with a 4-point margin of error."

Of course, job approval is different from picking your new nominee. Even still, that 2021 poll showed Trump with 75% job approval rating, the second lowest of his career, and a big decline over a year. There wasn't a 2024 GOP nominee poll from January 2020 for comparison, but it's clear that the Trump has become toxic to many Republicans, including leading members of the House and Senate as well as voters. And with only 34% approval overall with the public in that Politico/Morning Consult poll, Trump would be a good bet to lose the next election by an even bigger margin, even if he actually is the Republican nominee that year.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

Here's all the evidence you need that the tax code wasn't written for you

The New York Times reported that Trump only paid $750 in taxes in 2016 and again in 2017, and documented how much of his lavish lifestyle he could write off.  I have no proof that this travesty is actually true.  But there is plenty of evidence that his tax code is definitely not written for you, the average reader.  It’s designed to do exactly what The New York Times is reporting.

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No, Trump didn't create 'the greatest economy in history' -- or even in the last few years

The most repeated phrase of the Republican National Convention was that President Donald Trump created the greatest economy the world has ever seen. The evidence, however, shows that it’s not the greatest in world’s history, or American history.  It may not be even better than the Obama economy, even before the pandemic devastated our economy.

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Ignorant mask opponents keep using one of the worst analogies imaginable as COVID-19 sweeps across America

Earlier this year, my college students and I joined our chaplain and a graduate student in traveling to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. The insensitive treatment many attendees gave the terrors that the museum was trying to educate people about are being repeated in a new way: weaponizing the Holocaust against any mask mandates, social distancing, or other health regulations designed to combat the deadly spread of COVID-19.  Amazingly, some of their targets are Jewish.

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The media got it wrong: There's no evidence GOP support for Trump improved after his racist outburst

One of the most popular articles last week involved claims that polls showed Republicans had increased their support of President Trump.  But a closer analysis of the data reveals that any increase in support was within the margin of error.  So the polls couldn’t conclude that GOP support for President Trump had gone up or down.

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