As news broke that the FBI had searched Donald Trump’s Florida home, MAGA loyalists and even some of the former president’s potential 2024 rivals rushed to a full-throated defense of the former president.
But not every Republican joined the chorus.
While the FBI search has given a jolt of energy to the conservative base, the issue is proving to be more complicated in pivotal battleground races that could determine control of the chamber — places where Republicans had been hoping to keep the focus on Democrats’ economic woes and off of Trump.
On Monday night, while several Senate GOP nominees jumped to blast the FBI and federal justice officials, Republican candidates in the swing states of Pennsylvania and North Carolina held off. The next morning, as pressure mounted from vocal right-wing activists, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who is running for the Senate in Pennsylvania, took to Twitter with a message that did not mention Trump by name but merely lamented the country’s divisions and asserted that Americans had “every right” to demand answers about the search and seizure of documents.
Rep. Ted Budd, who is seeking a Senate seat in North Carolina, likewise eventually tweeted from his official Congress account after his office was bombarded with calls asking about his response. His statement said Americans deserved a “full explanation” of what happened.
Those calls for transparency from Oz and Budd differ markedly from the more fiery rebukes from other Republicans who painted America as a lawless banana republic — and reflect that some GOP candidates in battleground states are erring on the side of caution in discussing a Trump investigation that could influence critical independent and suburban voters.
“The reintroducing of his radioactive persona and politics is coming at a very inopportune time for Republicans,” said Michael Brodkorb, a former deputy chair of the Minnesota GOP. “Republicans want this election cycle to be about Joe Biden, inflation, jobs and the economy, and right now, it’s becoming more about Donald Trump. And just like a rock in the shoe that won’t go away, he’s back again, and it’s going to complicate an election cycle that was trending to be a very uncomplicated one for Republicans.”
The caution in some corners in the GOP also reflects just how tight the contest is for control of the Senate. After initially declining to weigh in on the Mar-a-Lago search at a press conference — which prompted criticism from pro-Trump activists — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also decided to take a cautious tack of calling for transparency, issuing a statement arguing that “the country deserves a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events of Monday.” [Continue reading…]
The Justice Department on Thursday moved to unseal portions of the search warrant executed at the Mar-a-Lago estate of former President Donald Trump.
“The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” prosecutors revealed in a court filing connected to the search warrant.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the news moments after the department filed the motion in federal court in Florida.
“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in the latter,” he said. Addressing criticisms of the department and FBI agents lodged by Trump and his allies, he added: “I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked.” [Continue reading…]