In the minutes and hours after the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s residence in Florida this month, his supporters did not hesitate to denounce what they saw as a blatant abuse of power and outrageous politicization of the Justice Department.
But with the release of a redacted affidavit detailing the justification for the search, the former president’s allies were largely silent, a potentially telling reaction with ramifications for his political future.
“I would just caution folks not to draw too many conclusions,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, a Republican, said on Fox News. It was a starkly different admonition from his earlier condemnations of what he said were “politically motivated actions.”
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Some Republicans will no doubt rally around Trump and his claim that he is once again being targeted by a rogue FBI that is still out to get him. His former acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said on Twitter that “this raid was, in fact, just about documents,” which he called “simply outrageous.” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. and an ardent Trump ally, was on the right-wing broadcaster Newsmax denouncing the FBI as politically biased, though he notably did not defend the former president’s possession of highly classified documents.
But generally, even the most bombastic Republicans — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Jim Jordan of Ohio — were at least initially focused elsewhere. Greene was posting on Friday about border “invasions.” Boebert noted on Twitter the anniversary of the suicide bombing of U.S. service members at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Jordan was focused on an interview with Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder. None tweeted about the affidavit.
The accusations against Trump have become increasingly serious.
Classified documents dealing with matters such as Trump’s correspondences with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were stored in unsecured rooms at Mar-a-Lago, The New York Times reported this month. The untempered attacks on the FBI after the initial search led to threats against federal law enforcement, opening up Republicans — long the self-proclaimed party of law and order — to charges from Democrats that they were trying to “defund” the agency.
And voters are again distracted by Trump in the political spotlight, even as Republicans try to direct their attention toward the economy and soaring inflation when the Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said efforts to control rising prices would exact pain on Americans.
All of this could mean that enough Republican voters grow weary of the division and drama around Trump and are ready to move on.
Little wonder, then, that Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s adviser and deputy chief of staff, took to Fox News on Friday afternoon to plead for Trump to stop commenting on the FBI investigation, for his own good and the good of his party.
“Let the election conversation get back to what it ought to be about,” Rove said, “which is about inflation and the economy and the direction of the country and people’s views of President Biden’s competence.”
Trump filed a lawsuit requesting a court-appointed outsider review the Mar-a-Lago documents.
A judge on Saturday signaled she's inclined to grant the request.
The lawsuit also accused the Department of Justice of treating Trump unfairly.
A judge on Saturday indicated she is likely to grant former President Donald Trump's request to have a court-appointed outsider conduct the review of documents seized by the Justice Department at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month.
In a brief order, US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon wrote of her "preliminary intent to appoint a special master in this case," adding it should not be misconstrued as her final decision.
Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, ordered the Justice Department to provide a "more detailed" list of the items recovered from Trump's Florida residence during the search and information about the status of the current reviews of the materials, including the "filter review" team that is screening for documents protected by attorney-client privilege.
Cannon also asked Trump's team to respond to the Justice Department's new detailed list of seized materials, and for both parties to explain their expectations for the role of a special master in the case. She scheduled a hearing for Thursday.
Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday requesting the court block the Justice Department's review of the documents and appoint a special master to "protect the integrity of privileged documents," or filter out documents protected by executive privilege.
The lawsuit also accused the Justice Department of treating him unfairly, accusations that the judge did not address in her order on Saturday.
During a search of Mar-a-Lago on August 8, the FBI seized boxes of materials, some highly classified, according to court records. The Justice Department is investigating potential violations of laws related to handling government documents.