When former President Donald Trump first announced the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, many Republican lawmakers rhetorically rushed to his side.
“The Justice Department has reached an intolerable state of militarized politicization,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
“FUND THE FBI!” shouted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
They demanded “answers”, documentation of the details of the DOJ raid.
And then… Attorney General Merrick Garland promised just that. On Thursday afternoon, Garland said the department would seek a partial release of Mar-a-Lago’s search warrant.
Zero registration. Would Trump change his position? It would take many uncomfortable hours for Republicans before Trump said he “ENCOURAGES” the release of the mandate – something he could do himself at any time.
Meanwhile, Trump allies have reportedly told Republican lawmakers to calm the storm of criticism they are training against the DOJ and FBI over the possibility of more damaging research-related information becoming public, according to the report. New York Times.
As we wait for the release of the mandate, Republicans fire repeatedly in their attempt to distract from the party’s revered leader.
Move the goalposts away to demand the warrant
After Garland inopportunely acceded to Republican demands to unseal the mandate, some Republicans looked for something else to demand. Many have landed on the information that prompted the search in the first place.
“What I’m looking for is the predicate of the search,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted shortly after Garland’s speech. “Was the information provided to the judge sufficient and necessary to authorize a search of the former president’s home within ninety days of the midterm election?”
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, sang a similar tune during a press conference Friday morning, asking that the “imminent national security risk” that caused the raid be disclosed to the committee.
“These questions will always remain unanswered” even after the seals are lifted, he confidently predicted.
Refer him to other perceived FBI failures
At that same morning press conference, many Republicans on the Intel committee spent their time at the desk discussing not the raid or even the attack on the FBI’s field office in Cincinnati on Thursday, but the shooting during Congressional Republican baseball practice in 2017.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) — who represents a district including parts of Cincinnati and its suburbs — told the story of the shooting, pointing out that the shooter “hated Donald Trump” and intended to kill people. Republicans, before launching into a critique of the FBI’s handling of the investigation into the attack.
“You want to know why the American people don’t trust our institutions? asked Wenstrup. “It’s things like that.”
Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) followed up with similar comments: “To this day, the FBI continues to use cover-up and concealment and will not release the files,” he said of the baseball shootout.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) turned the clock back even further, providing the reliable interjection “but his emails.”
“We saw this media frenzy over allegedly classified information – where was that same media frenzy when there were 33,000 classified emails on a server in a bathroom with Hillary Clinton?” Mullin asked indignantly. “Why didn’t they loot this bathroom?”
Lead Secret Service Informant to FBI Theory
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) retweeted a much-reviewed thread from a Fox News reporter theorizing that probable cause for a search warrant came from a Mar-a-Lago Secret Service member. The thread is attributed to an anonymous federal law enforcement source. Cruz added the sideways eyes emoji to the thread on Thursday night.
In pursuit of renegade AG Merrick Garland
Many Republicans chose to unload their spleen on Garland, portraying the famously cautious public servant as a rogue and vindictive actor.
“AG Garland: The DOJ seeks equal justice under the law*,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tweeted Thursday night. “*Unless your name is Hillary Clinton or Hunter Biden.”
House Judiciary Republicans accused Garland of disclosing to the Washington Post that the FBI raid was at least partially prompted by the need to obtain documents related to nuclear weapons.
“So hours after Merrick Garland said the DOJ only speaks through his court filings, they are coming out and leaking this story to The Washington Post,” the committee tweeted.
Take the finger-to-ear approach
But for many Republicans, the game plan has shifted to…talking about other things. For many of them, an IRS conspiracy theory has become the big talking point of the day.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a statement debunking the claims Friday morning.
“High-ranking Republicans, including the former finance committee chairman, are saying shockingly irresponsible things. Given the social media chatter we are already seeing, it is all too easy to imagine individuals using these conspiracy theories to justify violence against public officials and their families,” he wrote. “It’s unbelievable that we even need to say this, but there won’t be 87,000 armed IRS agents going door to door with assault weapons. This is funding to answer phone calls and upgrade computer systems.