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Thursday, May 23, 2024

A "Deadly Force" Conspiracy Theory

Andrew Egger and Jim Swift at The Bulwark:
“WOW!” Donald Trump truthed. “I just came out of the Biden Witch Hunt Trial in Manhattan, the ‘Icebox,’ and was shown Reports that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY.”

Trump went further in a Tuesday fundraising email: “They were authorized to shoot me!”

“You know they’re just itching to do the unthinkable,” the email blasted out to millions of the president’s fans went on. “Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

We hope you’re sitting down for this: It is not actually true that Biden tried to have Trump assassinated. (But would he have absolute immunity from prosecution if he did? The Supreme Court will get around to determining that, one of these days.)

This particular narrative was launched yesterday by January 6th conspiracy theorist (her words!) and friend of the show Julie Kelly, who while rummaging through filings in Trump’s classified documents case stumbled across some FBI policy statements on how the execution of its search warrant would proceed operationally. One of those documents was a “policy statement” on the “use of deadly force.”

Even a cursory read of this document makes it painfully obvious that it’s a bog-standard piece of paperwork—copied word for word from the DOJ’s policy book, the Justice Manual—limiting when armed agents are allowed to use force: “only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.” Most of the document is a series of “what ifs”: “Deadly force may not be used solely to prevent the escape of a fleeing subject.” “Firearms may not be fired solely to disable moving vehicles.” “Warning shots are not permitted outside the prison context.” And so on.