Fact Check: Is the FBI Behaving Like the “Gestapo in Germany”? – By Holmes Lybrand (weeklystandard.com) / April 12 2018
Let’s roll the tape.
During Tuesday’s episode of Fox & Friends, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich harangued against the FBI and the Mueller investigation, comparing their actions to Stalin and the Gestapo.
“We’ve now had Paul Manafort and his wife in their pajamas at 3 o’clock in the morning, having the FBI break down the door,” Gingrich said. “We have had this, last week, Cohen the lawyer, had the door taken off the hinges at 6 in the morning.”
In July 2017, federal agents armed with a search warrant preformed a no-knock raid on the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Contrary to Gingrich’s claim that the FBI broke down the door, the Washington Post, New York Times, and several additional news outlets reported that the FBI picked the lock of Manafort’s front door then knocked on the door of his bedroom. Gingrich is correct that the search began very early in the morning.
Michael Cohen’s own reporting of the more recent raid contradicts Gingrich’s claim that his “door [was] taken off the hinges.” As ABC News reported Tuesday:
President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen told ABC News today that FBI agents did not storm in, but simply knocked on the door, as they raided his office, hotel room and home Monday.
There were no SWAT teams, no guns drawn. The operation was “respectful” and “courteous.”
(ABC News also reported that the raid took place at 7:30 a.m.— not “6 in the morning.”)
“It ain’t the rule of law when they kick in your door at 3 in the morning,” Gingrich told Fox & Friends. “You’re faced with armed men and you have had no reason to be told you’re going to have that kind of treatment. That’s Stalin. That’s the Gestapo in Germany. That shouldn’t be the American FBI.”
Search warrants based on probable clause have been around since the Fourth Amendment was established in the Bill of Rights. To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors must convince a judge that they have “probable cause” to presume there is evidence of criminal activity where they wish to search.
Gingrich’s comparison of the legal searches of Manafort and Cohen to the Gestapo, while hyperbolic, is not remotely close to resembling any sort of accuracy. (TWS Fact Check feels obliged to remind readers that during the Nuremberg trials the Gestapo was declared one of the primary perpetrators of the Holocaust.)