Why the pre-dawn raids?


Today comes a new report that the Trump team was rattled by learning yesterday that the FBI had conducted a pre-dawn raid on the home of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and taking away boxes of stuff. The raid was presumably done at the request of Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating various charges involving the Trump campaign and Russian involvement in it plus matters arising from it.

Two things surprised me about this news. One is that the raid took place on July 26th, nearly two weeks ago, and yet news about it only came out yesterday? How can it be that in Washington, DC, a town that is riddled with gossip and leaks, no one gave the media information about this raid, not even Manafort’s neighbors? How could it possibly be the case that the White House, of all places, could be unaware of the raid for two weeks when it intimately concerned them?

The other thing is why these raids are conducted before dawn. If you are raiding someone who is likely to be armed and dangerous or might be tempted to destroy incriminating evidence, then it might make sense to do so in order to catch them unawares and by surprise so that they do not have time to resist or hide things. But Manafort is just an ordinary political hack who had already been questioned by Mueller, just the previous day in fact, and is cooperating with the investigation, so he would likely have destroyed anything that he felt he should long before now.

Is there some rule that says that such raids have to be as dramatic as possible, with government agents barging into homes in the dark? That does seem to be a consistent pattern, though in this case it is not clear if the agents were heavily armed or that the people in the house were forced to the ground while the search was made.

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    “But Manafort is just an ordinary political hack”

    Wrong, his family has been laundering mob money for generations.

  2. Siobhan says

    Even when they aren’t mob bosses they still use pre-dawn raids. Hippie environmentalists in Canada get arrested like that all the time. What insidious communications could they possibly possess that haven’t already been captured by panoptical surveillance? The talk about preserving evidence is just that, talk. What they’re really doing is using terror to control.

  3. says

    One is that the raid took place on July 26th, nearly two weeks ago, and yet news about it only came out yesterday? How can it be that in Washington, DC, a town that is riddled with gossip and leaks, no one gave the media information about this raid, not even Manafort’s neighbors?

    The media are quiet when they are told to be.

    Is there some rule that says that such raids have to be as dramatic as possible, with government agents barging into homes in the dark?

    That’s a left-over from the J. Edgar Hoover days: make the raids big and splashy (when the neighbors are likely to be home, too) to maximize their repressive effect. It’s just a demonstration of power: “look, we are powerful enough that we can grab a political hack and kick in his door, citizens!”

  4. Holms says

    “The media are quiet when they are told to be.”

    I greatly doubt that the media were told to be silent on this one – and if they were, I doubt they’d obey – and I note that telling the media to be silent on such a raid runs counter to your statement “make the raids big and splashy (when the neighbors are likely to be home, too) to maximize their repressive effect.” I think that the silence on this one is simply a byproduct of news saturation thanks to the Trump administration pushing out ludicrous news items on a daily basis.

    The fact that said administration has also been ignorant of this item speaks to their colossal disorganisation and incompetence.

  5. TGAP Dad says

    I took a (college) con law class taught by a former FBI agent. A primary advantage to these raids is that is disorienting to the target, making him/her more vulnerable and likely to answer. There is also insight to be gained by gauging the targets’ reactions to specific things being searched. These clues can find things that are concealed or otherwise hidden. You can also ask them questions – where items are, are there any other places, where they keep their [things to be seized]. Our instructor, with no small amount of evil glee, also pointed out that you can ask the spouse or kids – in front of the target – and sometimes the others will show the agents “Dad’s secret hiding place,” in view of the fuming dad (or mom).

  6. KG says

    Perhaps the FBI employs a large number of vampires, who cannot be employed on raids during daylight hours.

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