Republican members of Ohio’s congressional delegation reacted with mistrust that the federal government had sufficient cause to conduct its surprise search of former President Donald Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida earlier this week.
The former president himself has characterized the move as “prosecutorial misconduct” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice to unfairly target President Joe Biden’s most high-profile adversary. Sources with knowledge of the event told the press that agents intended to gather evidence regarding whether Trump brought classified documents from the White House to his Palm Beach residence.
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH-04), among Congress’s most steadfast Trump loyalists and the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, voiced his opposition to the FBI’s action shortly after Trump complained of it. Speaking to Laura Ingraham of Fox News, he called on Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray to explain their move before his committee on Friday.
On his Twitter page, the northwest-Ohio lawmaker described the bureau’s treatment of the former president as part of a trend of executive-branch aggression toward foes and critics.
“They use the Patriot Act to spy on parents at school board meetings,” he began. “They approve the hiring of 87,000 new [Internal Revenue Service] agents to harass Americans. And now they raid the home of a former President. Unbelievable.”
In a statement, Jordan’s eastern-Ohio colleague Bill Johnson (R-OH-06) echoed his insistence that the FBI director and attorney general speak to Congress forthwith on the subject. He also opined that his own party should probe the executive branch’s efforts if Republicans retake the House this fall.
“We’ve seen over and over that only one side of our political spectrum is held accountable by the powers that be in Washington,” he said. “It will be the duty of House Republicans next January to thoroughly and relentlessly investigate this. If the FBI is brazen enough to raid the home of a former president, and possible future opponent of the current president, then every American should be concerned that federal agencies can be weaponized against them.”
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH-10) wrote directly to Wray asking for him to brief Congress on the subject.
“In the history of our country, this action is unprecedented,” the Dayton-based congressman wrote. “As the Ranking Member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 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.”
David Joyce, a Republican who represents the Buckeye State’s far-northeastern 14th district, emphasized the singular nature of the search insofar as no chief executive underwent a similar proceeding before.
“Only two-in-ten Americans say they trust the government,” he tweeted Tuesday morning. “They fear the continued political weaponization of the DOJ, IRS, and more. Any refusal to provide transparency or accountability regarding yesterday’s raid will confirm those fears.”
Congressman Bob Gibbs (R), whose 7th district is based in Canton, expressed similar sentiment, writing to The Ohio Star that the search exemplifies “the VERY dangerous practice by Democrat administrations of weaponizing the levers of power and federal law enforcement to exact political vendettas.”
Representative Bob Latta, the Republican whose 5th district surrounds Toledo, voiced the same concern, saying the FBI’s move “increases the level to which political opponents are being targeted to an extreme level while setting a dangerous precedent.”
North of Columbus, Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH-12) called the bureau’s decision “dangerous” and said it “upends 250 years of precedent.”
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was more circumspect, reserving judgment presently on whether the FBI’s action was justified. He did, however, join his colleagues in the lower chamber in urging the executive branch to explain its reason for executing its warrant.
“I am following the situation,” he said via email. “I’m not going to jump to conclusions until we learn more, but we need to be sure our justice system is never politicized. The Justice Department should be transparent, including explaining on what basis they initiated this search.”
Among Democrats, enthusiasm for the investigation of the former president remains strong. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), who is running against Republican J.D. Vance to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, suggested the matter boils down to Trump believing he could commit extralegal acts given his position as commander in chief.
“No person is above the rule of law,” declared Ryan. “It is my hope that this investigation delivers the accountability and justice we need to heal and move beyond this dark chapter in our country’s history.”
Some analysts, including Andrew C. McCarthy, an opinion journalist who formerly served as a federal prosecutor in New York, theorize that while the FBI may have obtained a search warrant premised on potentially illegally acquired documents, the bureau may be more interested in evidence pertaining to the Washington, D.C. riot on January 6, 2021. On that day, some backers of the former president who disputed the legitimacy of Biden’s election and clamored against certification of some states’ electoral votes broke into the U.S. Capitol Building.
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