Cracks emerge in GOP’s Mar-a-Lago response

Source: Axios | August 13, 2022 | Andrew Solender

Republicans are dividing over how or whether to defend former President Trump after the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago — and what to do about some members’ heated rhetoric toward law enforcement.


What they’re saying: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) called the search a “complete abuse,” suggesting it was because Trump is “Joe Biden’s most likeliest political opponent in 2024.” Other members re-litigated past grievances against the FBI over Russiagate, the 2017 Congressional Baseball shooting and the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

– “You can say nuclear weapons, but there are things that are highly, highly classified, there are things that are not extremely classified,” ranking member Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said.

– After the search, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) began calling to “defund the FBI,” and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) tweeted: “I will support a complete dismantling and elimination of the democrat brown shirts known as the FBI.”

The other side: “It’s incumbent upon everybody to act in a way that’s becoming of the office they hold,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a former FBI agent, “And that’s not casting judgment on anything until you know all the facts.”

– Fitzpatrick said his call for transparency about the search is grounded in a desire to restore the FBI’s credibility: “There’s nothing I want more than the American public to love the FBI.”

– Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) told Politico: “I mean, if he had actual Special Access Programs — do you know how extraordinarily sensitive that is? … If that were actually at his residence, that would be a problem.”

The big picture: The attacks right-wing members have lobbed against the FBI and DOJ have polarized some Republican colleagues amid rising threats to federal law enforcement and an attack on an FBI building in Ohio.

– “I’m impressed Democrats finally got us to say, ‘Defund the FBI,'” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) told Axios. “That makes you look unserious, when you start talking like that.”

– House Homeland Security Committee ranking member John Katko (R-N.Y.) said, “This is not something you rush to judgment on … It’s incumbent upon everybody to take a deep breath.”

What’s next: Many Republicans are calling for the Justice Department to also release of the affidavit in support of the warrant, which so far has not been made public.

– “The warrant, you can’t fit much on there,” Fitzpatrick said. “Everything is going to be in that affidavit.”

– Katko said if the affadavit isn’t made public “at least give it to us in a classified setting.”

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