GOP offers strained Trump defenses in Mar-a-Lago probe — for now
“I know the Presidential Records Act doesn’t actually have his records,” the senator said. John Corny (R-Texas), member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I think that [Attorney General] Merrick Garland’s decision to do so was brutal and frankly naive. What he has done now is set a precedent that the Justice Department can execute a search warrant against a former president when other means of achieving the same result would have been available.
Recent counter-narratives have focused on how the FBI conducted the research or comparisons to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private mail server. Some even question the idea that the documents were classified in the first place.
But few responses have substantively addressed Trump’s decision to harbor what the Justice Department has described as extraordinarily sensitive secrets at Mar-a-Lago, or evidence that potentially points to obstruction of justice. And even his most loyal allies, like Sen. Josh Haley (R-Mo.), have more biting political critiques than defenses of Trump’s conduct.
“I think this raid was an unconscionable act of political militarization in America,” said Hawley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, adding that Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray should resign. “It’s really, really alarming, and it shows that this administration is willing to use law enforcement to further its political vendettas like a third world country.”
Many Republicans have sought to downplay the seriousness of Trump’s actions – even as they insist they personally would not have acted the same way with classified information – and said the Justice Department would have had to look for other ways to retrieve the documents.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the Republican chief on the Senate Intelligence Committee, questioned FBI claims that documents found at Mar-a-Lago were classified or posed a threat to national security, citing that the he Biden administration had never informed the panel or the so-called Gang of Eight about Trump’s possession of the documents.
“They never came to us and told us there was a bunch of missing classified information. That’s part of the problem here,” Rubio said. at the congressional level. We are constantly informed of counterintelligence threats.
“What level are we talking about that justifies a high profile raid of this magnitude that you knew would have political implications?” he added.
According to court records, the FBI recovered tons of documents marked as top secret as well as extremely sensitive material from the “Special Access Program.” Cornyn, however, said there was a difference between classified documents that simply aggregate publicly available information and other documents containing “very sensitive information about sources and methods, which would be very damaging” if they were disclosed.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), another member of the intelligence committee who caucus with Democrats, said it was premature to dismiss the seriousness of Trump’s conduct without seeing the documents themselves – which the committee asked to see. examine.
The central question, King said, should be, “Why would you remove classified White House documents?” What purpose?”
Some Republicans, though few so far, have openly criticized Trump’s handling of the documents and say he never should have had them in the first place.
“You shouldn’t take these classified things that are supposed to be… in a classified place,” Sen said. rounds of mike (RS.D.), who has previously drawn ire from Trump for criticizing the former president’s false claims about the 2020 election. “There are specific areas where classified documents are being reviewed. And it’s pretty clear. »
Even though their personal views on the matter differ, lawmakers on both sides are racing to get answers about the Justice Department investigation and the months-long dispute between Trump and the National Archives and Records Administration.
The Biden administration has sent only one official notice to Congress on the matter – a letter from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines confirming that the intelligence community will assess whether US national security has been harmed as a result of the processing. documents by Trump.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan request from the Senate Intelligence Committee to see documents seized in the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago — which would answer Rubio’s specific questions about classification levels — went unanswered. The senators also demanded to see the unredacted affidavit that was used to substantiate the government’s request for a search warrant, a request that was also not granted.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who chairs the intelligence panel, said “any type of formal session” with intelligence officials on the Mar-a-Lago investigation would likely wait until next week, when the House will resume.