Days after Trump’s home was searched on Aug. 8, a man who posted regularly on his social media site tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office in Ohio, armed with an AR-15 style rifle and a nail gun. He fled the scene before being killed in a standoff. The episode was referenced in the bulletin.
Pro-Trump internet forums have erupted with violent threats in the days after the FBI search. Meanwhile, conservative media published the names of the two agents who signed the paperwork authorizing a search warrant of Trump’s estate. And the biographical information of the federal magistrate judge who signed the search warrant had to be wiped from a Florida court’s website because of threats.
Some members of the Republican Party raised concerns about the incendiary rhetoric coming from others in the GOP and its potential to lead to violence. Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) are among those who spoke of destroying or defunding the FBI.
“It’s outrageous rhetoric,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“It’s absurd and it’s dangerous. There are threats all over the place, and losing faith in our federal law enforcement officers and our justice system is a really serious problem for the country,” said Hogan, whose father was an FBI agent, as were other members of his family.
Hogan’s comments were echoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican.
“The GOP is gonna be the party of supporting law enforcement — law enforcement includes the FBI,” Hutchinson said on CNN. “We need to pull back on casting judgment on them.”
Other elected Republicans on Sunday put the onus on Attorney General Merrick Garland to justify the necessity of the search of Trump’s residence last week.
“He has a lot of questions to answer,” Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The attorney general has been under intense scrutiny after he “personally approved” use of a search warrant for government documents located at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The former president claims he had declassified all the records prior to leaving office.
Many Republican leaders immediately attacked the search when it occurred last Monday, but some have since softened their criticism, particularly those like Turner, who have expressed concern over the possible presence of classified documents.
The first bipartisan request for information surrounding the FBI search came on Sunday from the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose leaders, Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) and ranking member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), sent a private letter to Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. Warner and Rubio asked the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to give the committee access to the classified documents that were seized during the Mar-a-Lago search, according to a spokesperson. The committee also asked for “an assessment of potential risks to national security as a result of their mishandling,” the spokesperson added.
GOP moderates, meanwhile, have offered criticism of their fellow Republicans over harsh rhetoric directed against the FBI and other law enforcement officials.
“I’m not one of the individuals out there that says that, you know, ‘Immediately attack the FBI or the Justice Department,’” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said on Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “I think this is very important that you provide them with the opportunity to lay out their case. But I think it’s very important long-term for the Justice Department — now that they’ve done this — that they show that this was not just a fishing expedition.”
For his part, on Sunday morning Trump claimed on Truth Social that some of the information seized by authorities contained documents covered by attorney-client privilege and executive privilege.
“By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken,” he posted.
Some congressional Republicans quickly closed ranks around Trump — who has raised money off the developments — in the days after the search became public, with some alleging that Garland and the Biden administration were trying to damage a political rival.
“No one is above the law. Donald Trump is not above the law and Attorney General Garland is not above the law, either,” Turner said.
The White House and senior Biden administration officials have adamantly said that Garland and the Justice Department acted independently in their decision to investigate Trump’s property.
“We’ve learned about this the same way the American people have learned about this,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” She added that President Joe Biden had not been briefed on the FBI’s investigation.
The Justice Department released portions of the materials related to the search in the days after the warrant was executed, revealing that investigators are exploring whether the former president violated the Espionage Act or possibly obstructed justice in his handling of sensitive documents — including those marked with the highest level of government classification.
However, a growing chorus of Republicans have called on the Justice Department to release more information, in particular the affidavit filed in support of the search warrant request approved by a federal magistrate judge.
“It was an unprecedented action that needs to be supported by unprecedented justification,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said on Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “That’s an open question, and we know where to look: the affidavit of probable cause.”
Top House Democrats have called for a review of whether the storage of those records outside the government’s auspices endangered national security. Turner and other Republicans have demanded that they be provided more information about the records to assess whether the search itself was warranted.
“These are materials that are two years old,” Turner said. “We don’t know what they are. We don’t know if they rise to the level of being a national security threat.”
Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.
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