“Defund the FBI!”: Republicans’ pro-police rhetoric goes out the window after feds raid Trump

One Republican Trump ally called for FBI agents to "be arrested upon sight"

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 9, 2022 9:32AM (EDT)

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Republican Trump allies on Monday called to "defund" or dismantle the FBI after agents executed a search warrant at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence.

The FBI searched executed a search warrant at Trump's Palm Beach resort, even opening the former president's office safe, according to Trump and media reports. The search was related to 15 boxes of White House materials, some of which were classified, that were seized from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, according to news reports.

Trump on Monday described Mar-a-Lago as "under siege, raided, and occupied" by federal law enforcement, alleging "prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the justice system and an attack by radical left Democrats."

The White House was not notified about the raid, according to CNN, and the Justice Department would have had to convince a federal judge that there was evidence of a likely crime in order to obtain the warrant before the unprecedented raid. Despite Trump's rhetoric blaming "radical left Democrats," the FBI is led by lifelong Republican Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump five years ago.

Nevertheless, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., accused the DOJ of an "intolerable state of weaponized politicization" and vowed to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans win back control of the House in November.

Other Trump allies, many of whom echoed and cheered his "lock her up" calls aimed at Hillary Clinton while touting their support for law enforcement, went even further, calling to destroy the FBI entirely.

"DEFUND THE FBI!" Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., declared on Twitter.

"This is the rogue behavior of communist countries, NOT the United States of America!!!" Greene wrote. "These are the type of things that happen in countries during civil war. The political persecution MUST STOP!!!"

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., another close Trump ally, called for the "complete dismantling and elimination of the democrat brown shirts known as the FBI."

"We must destroy the FBI," he wrote in a subsequent tweet.

Some lesser-known Trump supporters went even further than that. Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini called for his state to "sever all ties with DOJ immediately."

"Any FBI agent conducting law enforcement functions outside the purview of our State should be arrested upon sight," he tweeted.

Former Trump aide Russ Vought told Fox News' Laura Ingraham that Republicans in Congress should "defund the FBI" and "dismantle the FBI into a thousand bits."

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Trump's allies in the media also called for the FBI to be destroyed.

"The FBI must be legally and formally dissolved," demanded right-wing pundit Candace Owens.

Other Republicans who have assailed Democrats as the party of "defund the police" activists, similarly attacked the FBI despite widespread consensus that Trump likely violated laws requiring the preservation of documents.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis alleged a "weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents," calling it a "Banana Republic."

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., echoed the "banana republic" talking point, calling for the GOP to create a special committee to "investigate the FBI's politically-motivated raid on Mar-a-Lago and on ALL the fraudulent persecution of President Trump from our government."

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called on Garland and Wray to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this week.

"What were you really doing? What were you looking for? Why not talk to President Trump and have him give the information you're after?" Jordan ranted. "This is unbelievable!"

Despite the Republican complaints, legal experts say the feds would have had to amass a huge amount of evidence to conduct the raid.

"I cannot imagine the amount of probable cause set forth in a search warrant's supporting FBI affidavit of Trump's Florida home," former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi told Insider, adding that the number of "review levels" for the warrant application "must have been enormous, including by Trump's FBI appointee Christopher Wray."

"Trump is in deep legal trouble," Rossi said.

Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said that the search suggests the DOJ is zeroing in on Trump.

"Search warrants," she told the outlet, "usually come toward the end of an investigation because they require a showing of probable cause and because they tend to tip off the suspect that they are under investigation."

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissman, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller's team, also predicted that Trump faces serious legal peril.

"If I were Donald Trump's lawyer right now, thank God I'm not," he told MSNBC, "I would be advising my client to be telling [their] family, 'I am looking at jail time, and we should make plans accordingly.'"

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Kevin Mccarthy Marjorie Taylor Greene Paul Gosar Politics