House GOP rallies to Trump after Mar-a-Lago search, vows to probe FBI in 2023

By | August 9, 2022

The House GOP leaped Monday night to denounce the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowing to investigate the Justice Department should Republicans take back the chamber this fall as expected.

“I’ve seen enough,” McCarthy tweeted hours after Trump confirmed that his Florida resort was searched by federal officials. Using the same term the former president did in his own statement on the raid — “weaponization” — to describe DOJ’s actions, the California Republican and frontrunner for speaker next year told Attorney General Merrick Garland to “preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”

McCarthy followed a long line of rank-and-file House conservatives who took to social media to condemn the FBI search, most of them stalwart conservative allies of Trump. The quick outcry underscored that, even as some of their Senate counterparts edge away from Trump while a DOJ investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack inches closer to his inner circle, House Republicans are prepared to hug the former president as tightly as ever.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the Republican Study Committee chair who is running for the majority whip role if Republicans flip the House this fall, quickly sought to paint the search as political while vowing House GOP-led hearings next year.

“Hunter Biden skates free while DOJ executes a political plot to destroy lives of political opponents,” tweeted Banks. “This is un-American and @Jim_Jordan led Judiciary Committee hearings in January can’t come soon enough!”

Both Banks and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who’s set to become Judiciary panel chair in a House GOP majority, are close McCarthy allies and longtime Trump boosters dating to the former president’s first impeachment. A Twitter account tied to Jordan also hit similar pro-Trump talking points, including anti-FBI sentiment that’s flared among Trump supporters since the bureau’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Likening the Mar-a-Lago search to harassment of everyday citizens that’s a fixture of Third World countries, the House Judiciary Committee GOP’s account also echoed Trump’s Monday night statement by claiming: “The FBI knowingly deceived Americans about Russian ‘collusion’ for YEARS. Can’t trust them.”

The law enforcement activity at Mar-a-Lago, according to two people familiar with the search, was tied to allegations that presidential records — including some with potentially classified information — were removed by Trump allies from the White House after the former president left office. But the nature of the documents that the government seized as part of the raid remains unclear.

While far less tied to McCarthy and party leadership, members of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus were among the first to push their party to conduct oversight of the FBI’s search. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the former head of the group, called for a probe that would examine “the viability of our federal law enforcement agencies that abuse their authorities for political purposes.”

Biggs also sought to compare the Mar-a-Lago search to the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi at the hands of his political enemies: “The only thing missing from the unprecedented FBI raid at President Trump’s home is Muammar Gaddafi’s sunglasses and cap on Joe Biden,” the Arizonan tweeted.

Rank-and-file House Republicans are likely to face further questions about the Mar-a-Lago raid and its effect on their plans for a likely House takeover when they return to Washington for a planned Friday vote on Democrats’ party-line climate, tax and health care bill.

While some senior Republicans privately brushed off conservatives’ calls for an investigation, noting that they need to see proof the search was a stunt rather than a by-the-books act, McCarthy’s tweet Monday night raises the political stakes of the moment considerably for the entire conference.

And even one prominent former Freedom Caucus member — turned potential Trump 2024 presidential primary rival — weighed in too.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attacked the Mar-a-Lago search on Twitter with similar Third World references, calling it “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents” and adding a dig at Democrats for seeking to boost IRS enforcement to help pay for their domestic agenda.

“Banana Republic,” he tweeted.