Republican lawmakers and officials accused the Biden administration on Monday night of weaponizing the Justice Department for political ends after former President Donald Trump revealed that the FBI had searched his Florida home.
Allies were quick to back Trump’s claim that the unprecedented search for a former president’s home was politically motivated, with some vowing to take action on Capitol Hill.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, said the Justice Department had reached “an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and vowed that Republicans would conduct oversight of the department if they win back the chamber in the November midterm elections.
“Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar,” McCarthy said in a statement.
Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who leads the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, tweeted that the search was part of a history of the Biden administration’s “going after” its political opponents, without providing any supporting details. Scott also demanded answers about the FBI’s actions, insisting that the bureau “must explain what they were doing today & why.”
A source familiar with the matter said the search was tied to classified documents Trump is alleged to have taken with him from the White House to his Palm Beach resort in January 2021.
A separate source said it is the Trump team’s understanding that the investigation is related to the transfer of documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago and that agents seized several boxes of documents.
The Republican National Committee’s chair, Ronna McDaniel, suggested the FBI activity was a partisan attack.
“Countless times we have examples of Democrats flouting the law and abusing power with no recourse,” McDaniel said in a statement, suggesting the only way to stop Democrats “is to elect Republicans in November.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump pressured to help carry out his plan to overturn the 2020 election, also slammed the Justice Department.
“No former president of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history,” he tweeted Tuesday. “After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed.”
“Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately,” he wrote.
Other Republicans raised concerns about the potential electoral implications, both in November and in 2024.
“We’re 100 days away from midterm elections. President Trump is likely going to run again in 2024. No one is above the law. The law must be above politics,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted. “However, launching such an investigation of a former President this close to an election is beyond problematic.”
Republicans who are considered potential White House contenders in 2024 also weighed in.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested the search was “another escalation” in an effort to wield political power against the administration’s adversaries, “while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also referred to the search as an example of the “unprecedented political weaponization” of the Justice Department, adding that investigations into Trump by the agency over the years were “un-American.”
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the FBI search, and the White House said it was not given a heads up.
“We did not have notice of the reported action and would refer you to the Justice Department for any additional information,” a White House official said.
Vaughn Hillyard and rebecca shabad contributed.