Republicans are pressuring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to explain its rationale for executing a search warrant on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence Monday.
House GOP leaders already skeptical of the DOJ criticized the search as being politically motivated.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), House Republican Conference chair, called the search a “dark day in American history” and accused President Biden’s administration of “weaponizing this department against their political opponents.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, said on Fox News on Monday night that FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland should testify to his committee on Friday, when the House will be back in session in order to act on the Democrats’ tax, climate and health care reconciliation bill.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pledged “immediate oversight” of the department if Republicans win the House majority next year, directing attention at Garland.
“The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” McCarthy said in a statement Monday. “Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”
GOP hostility toward the DOJ and the intelligence community have both been building amid Trump’s own criticism of the government.
Republicans decried warrants that allowed the FBI to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page during the 2016 presidential campaign, with the Justice Department later declaring two of the four warrants invalid.
They also allege a double standard, pointing to Hunter Biden’s business activities and the DOJ’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having classified emails on a private server. The FBI declined to charge Clinton with any crime, and business activity of President Biden’s son is the subject of an ongoing investigation.
Not all Republicans immediately asserted, though, that the search of Mar-a-Lago was politically motivated when asking for information.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Wray requesting a briefing on the warrant.
“I am unaware of any actual or alleged national security threat posed by any information, data, or documents in the possession of former President Trump,” Turner wrote. “Congress deserves immediate answers from you as to the actions you ordered.”
Republicans in the Senate similarly called for explanations from the DOJ. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) called for the department to “quickly and transparently tell the American people who approved this raid and why it occurred.”
“Transparency brings accountability & if the FBI & DOJ aren’t transparent about raiding a former presidents home they risk further damaging their credibility,” tweeted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The search at Mar-a-Lago appears to be connected to the former president’s failure to turn over some presidential records. Authorities previously retrieved boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago that included classified information. Neither the DOJ nor Trump has revealed the content of the search warrant.
Demands for answers stretched across a spectrum of ideological factions in the GOP and included Republicans who Trump has politically targeted.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said on Twitter that “the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed,” calling for a “full accounting” from Garland.
Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack last year, lost a primary challenge to a Trump-backed opponent last week. But he also expressed concerns about “propriety and politicization” related to the raid.
“I will not add to baseless speculation, but Director Wray and AG Garland owe transparency on the justification for setting such a striking precedent,” Meijer said in a tweet.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was noticeably absent from the GOP debate for much of the day, and he declined to answer a question about the raid at a Tuesday press conference to discuss flooding in Kentucky.
On Tuesday evening he released a statement calling for “a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events of Monday.”
“Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should already have provided answers to the American people and must do so immediately,” he said.
Some Republicans are reacting with caution.
“As opposed to rushing to judgment, the most important thing that we could do is let it play out,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said on CBS on Tuesday morning, while also warning that the FBI’s credibility could be in danger if it can’t show something of “incredible magnitude” that led to carrying out the search warrant.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) issued a warning for those in her party not coming to Trump’s defense.
“If you’re a Republican with any kind of voice, and not speaking up for President Trump tonight don’t expect any of us to speak up for you when your time comes. You may not realize it yet, but they’re coming for all of us,” Boebert said in a tweet Monday night.
Republican probes into the handling of the search warrant would come on top of other congressional GOP investigations into alleged political bias in the DOJ.
McCarthy has repeatedly brought up the Department of Justice’s handling of strategies to address threats directed at school board members and teachers. House Judiciary Committee Republicans say that according to whistleblowers who have contacted them, the FBI opened investigations into parents.
Grassley has similarly said that “multiple Justice Department whistleblowers” have approached his office about alleged political bias in the department revolving around election and campaign finance investigations and matters revolving around Hunter Biden.
Updated at 7:20 p.m.