Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on Sunday urged their colleagues to address the recent attacks against the FBI following the search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Trump allies have portrayed the unprecedented search — including the seizure of 11 sets of classified documents as part of the agency’s investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act and other federal statutes — as evidence that the FBI and the Department of Justice ( DOJ) are armed by the Biden administration.
Some Republicans have called for the FBI to be relieved, while others have aired the idea that agents could come after all Americans, even if they show up in their living rooms.
Both Democrats and Republicans took to the political shows on Sunday to denounce attacks on the agency, which has reported an increase in threats to law enforcement after the search.
sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), during an interview with Andrea Mitchell on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” an attempted breach of the FBI’s Cincinnati field office Thursday explicitly tied to recent GOP rhetoric.
The suspect, who was shot and killed by police, was reportedly in Washington, DC, leading up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
“[These are] the kind of thing that happens when you have a president attacking law enforcement and attacking the law,” Klobuchar said.
“I used to think the Republican Party was behind law enforcement,” she added. “And I hope some of them do that today, because this kind of rhetoric is very dangerous for our country. These are career men and women just doing their job.”
In CBS’s “Face the Nation,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) echoed Klobuchar’s concerns.
“The reaction of many of my Republican colleagues and those around the former president to attack the FBI about this and endanger FBI agents is just another damaging level of irresponsibility,” Schiff told moderator Margaret Brennan.
Trump himself has repeatedly attacked the FBI since the search, also suggesting an unproven conspiracy that the agency was planting evidence to politically hurt him. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) announced Friday that she has introduced articles of impeachment against Attorney General Merrick Garland, who said he personally approved the search.
But others in the GOP opposed those attacks on Sunday, even as they pushed for more information from the FBI and DOJ.
“The FBI is simply carrying out their responsibilities under the law, a lawful search warrant signed by a magistrate,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on CNN’s “State of the Union”.
“And they didn’t go in there with FBI raid coats,” he added. “They tried to limit their behavior in carrying out that order.”
Hutchinson offered some defense to members of his party for criticizing the FBI, saying they “see the establishment going after Donald Trump” and have unanswered questions, but he called on fellow Republicans to “get behind” law enforcement.
“If the GOP becomes the party supporting law enforcement, law enforcement will include the FBI,” he told CNN.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who, like Hutchinson, is not afraid to criticize Trump, also broke away from the heated rhetoric of some in the GOP on Sunday.
“One side will say this is just politically motivated and Justice Department weaponization, but… they probably have reasons to come after him for things that could be really important,” Hogan said on ABC’s “This Week “.
But Hogan told moderator Jonathan Karl that the search motivated Trump’s base, which still has “many unanswered questions.”
“I wasn’t one of those people who just reacted, just defended Donald Trump, but I understood that without anyone understanding what this was about, it would lead to even more division and angry rhetoric from both sides. Hogan said on ABC.
Brennan on “Face the Nation” asked Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chief member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, directly to respond to Trump’s rhetoric.
“I think it’s incendiary,” McCaul said. “I don’t want to put any law enforcement officer on the bullseye of a potential threat. And that’s someone who’s spent most of my career with law enforcement.”
Also on CBS, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a former FBI agent who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, tells his colleagues to “make reservations” about the search and “understand the weight of their words.”
But he described the recent rhetoric as the latest example of violent actions, pointing to the 2017 shooting at a Republican practice before the annual Congressional Baseball Game and a man arrested in June after allegedly attempting to kill Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the leading up to the Supreme Court’s quashing of Roe v. Wade.
“We’ve seen disdain across the political spectrum, Margaret, whom I mentioned, in local law enforcement, in the Supreme Court and now in federal law enforcement,” Fitzpatrick said on CBS. “It’s not all right. None of that.”