Ron DeSantis, GOP slam FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
Gov. Ron DeSantis lead a chorus of Florida Republicans criticizing an FBI raid on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, questioning if the U.S. has turned into a “Banana Republic.”
The FBI raid on on Monday was part of a probe into whether the former president took classified records from the White House to his Palm Beach residence, the Associated Press reported.
The FBI and Justice Department have not confirmed the search. It marked a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes amid a separate but intensifying probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
DeSantis, running for re-election as Florida’s governor but also with an eye on a White House run possibly against Trump in 2024, slammed the FBI raid but never mentioned the former president.
“The raid of MAL [Mar-a-Lago] is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves,” DeSantis tweeted from his personal account, not his official Florida governor’s account. “Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic.”
DeSantis will be traveling across the nation this month to campaign for some of the top Republican deniers of President Biden’s victory in 2020, Fox News reported, including one involved in the notorious Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington.
Despite the possibility that at primary featuring both DeSantis and Trump could split the GOP, most Republicans were united in criticism of the FBI raid.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott said on Twitter the raid was “concerning.”
“The @FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago is incredibly concerning, especially given the Biden admin’s history of going after parents & other political opponents. This is 3rd World country stuff,” Scott tweeted. “We need answers NOW. The FBI must explain what they were doing today & why.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is up for re-election this year, joined in the condemnation when he tweeted, “After todays [sic] raid on Mar A Lago what do you think the left plans to use those 87,000 new IRS agents for?”
Trump and other allies immediately sought to cast the search as part of a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024, even though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge of it and the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump five years ago and served as a high-ranking official in a Republican-led Justice Department.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.
Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including about whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search.
Trump did not elaborate on the basis for the search, but the Justice Department has been investigating the potential mishandling of classified information after the National Archives and Records Administration said it had retrieved from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of records containing classified information earlier this year.
The National Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department. Trump has previously maintained that presidential records were turned over “in an ordinary and routine process.”
There are multiple federal laws governing the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including statutes that make it a crime to remove such material and retain it at an unauthorized location.
Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search happened earlier Monday and confirmed that agents were also looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at the estate.