Republicans had an opportunity on Monday to distance themselves from embattled former President Donald Trump. Instead, they increased their support. Keep an eye on
The Republican Party, which has stood by law and order for decades, strongly condemned the FBI’s search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy vowing retaliation against Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department.
“When Republicans retake the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, adhere to the facts, and leave no stone unturned,” he tweeted Monday night. “Attorney General Garland, keep your documents safe and your calendar clear.”
McCarthy has been working to establish his MAGA credentials since April, when it was revealed that he had said Trump should have resigned after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurgency. Since then, he has sought the former president’s endorsement as he seeks to become the next House speaker if Republicans gain control of the chamber in November.
He wasn’t by himself. Several other House Republicans joined the chorus in defending Trump, while the former president and his political protégés raised funds from the search. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a top leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, told his Twitter followers to watch him on Fox News on Monday night: “Reacting to the unprecedented raid of President Trump’s home with @IngrahamAngle tonight. You won’t want to miss it.”
On the show, he demanded that Garland and Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.
The messages on the House Judiciary GOP Twitter account were more vehement, with some House Republicans calling for the FBI to be defunded.
According to Mike Cornfield, an associate professor of political management at George Washington University who studies political rhetoric, the statements are a continuation of the Republican Party’s pre-Trump era and a hair-trigger reaction from members of the GOP who want to keep their ties with the former president.
Republicans have been the party of law and order since the 1970s, he claims, with those three words appearing in nearly every major GOP campaign since then. The Republican account in the House Judiciary Committee questioned whether the FBI had “better things to do than harass the former PRESIDENT?” “If they can do it to a former President, imagine what they can do to you,” he warned.
The No. 2 Republican in the House, Rep. Steve Scalise, called it a “brazen weaponization of the FBI by Biden’s DOJ against his political opponent.” McCarthy’s point that House Republicans “will hold them accountable next year” was reiterated.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has repeatedly drawn Trump’s ire, issued a statement late Tuesday evening: “The country deserves a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events of Monday.” Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should and must have already provided answers to the American people.”
Other Republican senators responded with venom.
“At the very least, Garland should resign or be impeached,” Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said in a statement. “The search warrant must be made public.” Christopher Wray has to go. And the FBI was completely reformed.”
Pam Lombardi, a 58-year-old Republican voter in Panama City, Florida, agrees, calling the search a “political sham.”
Despite the fact that some voters and party leaders have challenged the country’s top law enforcement agencies, Lombardi continues to see the GOP as the party of law and order. She sees a distinction between Republicans supporting local law enforcement and Republicans challenging federal law enforcement.
Richard Toney, 64, said “retaliate” is the wrong word to describe Republican opposition to the search and warnings that if Republicans gain control of the House, they will investigate the investigators.
He described the mountain as the country’s growing polarization.
With polarized politics, “people firmly committed to one side increasingly convince themselves that any opposition must be illegitimate, even if it comes from previously viewed as legitimate individuals or institutions,” according to Bartels.