Even as debate rages over Donald Trump’s role in inciting the U.S. Capitol riot, the former president is resurrecting the same kind of incendiary invective against the FBI after agents executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago residence.
Trump is ramping up inflammatory accusations against the FBI — as he did against the presidential election he lost. He has repeatedly claimed that the FBI is corrupt and lawless and that the mounting anger against the bureau is justified.
Trump is also linking the Mar-a-Lago search warrant and the removal of boxes of documents to a web of “corruption” that encompasses his two impeachments and the lengthy investigation into the Kremlin’s attempt to manipulate the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. He engaged in the same kind of inflammatory language before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Then as now, the rhetoric has spiraled to extremes, including some calling for an overhaul of the government or a coup.
Trump has blasted the FBI as seditious, abusive and criminal after agents hauled out about 20 boxes of White House material from Mar-a-Lago, including 11 sets of classified information that should have been turned over to the National Archives when his presidential term ended.
Trump told Fox News: “People are so angry at what is taking place. ... The people of this country are not going to stand for another scam,” he warned, in an echo of comments he made before the Capitol riot.
There’s no indication the Mar-a-Lago search was a “scam,” just as there was no evidence the presidential election was rigged.
The FBI search warrant was approved by a federal judge and netted documents that were not supposed to have been removed from the White House. Trump has not denied he was holding boxes of White House materials.
Trump insisted on Fox that he wanted to “lower the temperature” of his supporters’ anger over the FBI search. But he was later mocked on Twitter as an “arsonist,” not a peacemaker, as he continued to fan the flames.
Before Jan. 6, Trump said repeatedly that the 2020 presidential election was corrupt and rigged and that people were angry.
“The ‘Justice’ Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 26, 2020. “They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up.”
“Our country has had enough,” Trump told his supporters at the rally Jan. 6, 2021, that preceded the storming of the Capitol. “We will not take it anymore.”
The day of the insurrection, Trump appeared to give the rioters a pass, indicating their violence was understandable.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump wrote on Twitter that day.
Trump’s current verbal assault against perceived enemies comes amid stark warnings of violence against law enforcement.
Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, told The Associated Press that vicious, threatening attacks can be expected from white supremacists and other extremists, but it’s again coming from Trump and his Republican Party supporters, who are “mainstreaming violent rhetoric,” she said.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what he is doing — that he’s trying to get people to do what they did” on Jan. 6, David Gomez, former FBI assistant special agent in charge in the FBI Seattle field office, told Time magazine. “He’s trying to rouse people up to take his side without overtly saying ‘Let’s do x, y, and z.’”
The FBI is already grappling with rising violence linked to Trump’s false messaging.
Ricky Shiffer, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, was killed by police last week after he attempted to breach an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, amid the social media attacks against the FBI by Republican lawmakers and their supporters.