Republicans defended former President Donald Trump when he reportedly attempted to use the power of the U.S. presidency to extort Ukraine into smearing then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign, acquitting him during his first Senate impeachment trial.
Now, GOP lawmakers and conservative commentators are up in arms about the FBI raid on Trump’s home in Florida on Monday, accusing Biden of personally directing the Department of Justice to go after his political opponents.
The White House repeatedly denied that Biden had any involvement or knowledge of the search on Tuesday.
“The president was not briefed, did not ― was not aware of it. No. No one at the White House was given a heads up. No, that did not happen,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jeane-Pierre said.
“The Justice Department conducts investigations independently, and we leave any law enforcement matters to them. It would not be appropriate for us to comment on any ongoing investigations,” Jeane-Pierre added.
But Republicans are pointing the finger at Biden anyway, claiming without evidence that he ordered an apparent search for classified documents Trump allegedly took after leaving office. The National Archives said earlier this year that it had obtained 15 boxes of presidential records that Trump had failed to turn over at the end of his term, contrary to the Presidential Records Act, which states that a president’s papers belong to the public.
“Biden is playing with fire by using a document dispute to get the [Department of Justice] to persecute a likely future election opponent,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “Because one day what goes around is going to come around.”
Rubio went on to add, “Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from third-world Marxist dictatorships.”
Rubio wasn’t the only Republican with something to say on the matter, Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) also jumped in to share his two cents.
“Biden is weaponizing the DOJ against his political opponents,” Keller tweeted on Monday. “If they can do this to the former president of the United States, imagine what they can do to you.”
Many of these same Republicans voted against Trump’s impeachment after he held up delivery of U.S. military aid to Ukraine in July 2019, while demanding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announce an investigation into Biden ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The aid was released after the scheme became public.
Democrats claimed Trump had abused the power of his office by asking a “favor” of Zelensky, while Republicans echoed Trump in saying that it was a “perfect” conversation.
GOP lawmakers aren’t the only ones crying foul over the raid on Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s estate in Florida. Gov. Ron Desantis (R-Fla) also issued a statement decrying the search, calling it “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves.”
DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential contender, is no stranger to using the power of his office to go after his opponents. As governor, he has cracked down on LGBTQ rights and moved to punish Disney for protesting his state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Last week, DeSantis suspended a state attorney who signed a pledge that would not prosecute people under the state’s newly enacted abortion law.
Republican grievances about the recent FBI probe into Trump gloss over the way they cheered in the past over the FBI’s investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over mishandling classified information.
“It’s like overnight all the Republicans who talked for six years nonstop about the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton just magically erased it from their memory so they could create this new fictional world in which only Republicans get investigated by the FBI,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted Tuesday.