(The hill) — House Republicans on Friday wasted no time rallying behind former President Trump after a court’s decision to unseal the search warrant that authorized the FBI to search his Mar-a-Lago residence in South Florida earlier in the week.
The new public order revealed that the Department of Justice had suspected Trump for violating the Espionage Act, among other federal laws, when he stockpiled reams of documents at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office last year.
FBI agents on Monday seized 11 sets of documents categorized as somewhat classified, an inventory of the seized items shows, including one set labeled “miscellaneous classified/TS/CSI documents,” a highly classified category of sensitive items typically pertaining to national security . Agents also recovered four sets of “Top Secret” items.
But Republican lawmakers on Friday dismissed the news, accusing the Department of Justice (DOJ) of conducting a political witch hunt designed for the sole purpose of damaging Trump politically as he considers another bid for the White House in 2024.
“What they’re doing to President Trump is political persecution,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) told reporters on the Capitol steps. “Merrick Garland abused his position of power as Attorney General to go after Joe Biden’s political enemies. And the whole purpose of this is to prevent President Trump from ever taking office.
“We cannot tolerate this in America,” she continued, “where our great institutions are used and abused in such a way as to defeat the political enemies of the people.”
Greene then entered the Capitol and introduced articles of impeachment against Garland.
She was hardly alone. Other GOP lawmakers also defended Trump against a Justice Department they portrayed as out of control. Congressman Lauren Bobert (R-Colo.), another close Trump ally, wondered why the department was not continuing its investigation into Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who was investigated for using a private server to conduct official business but never was not charged.
“Did they find 33,000 deleted Hillary Clinton emails in the safe? That’s what I want to see,” said Bobert, who also supported efforts to impeach Garland.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Investigative Committee, didn’t go as far but accused Garland of withholding information vital to the public’s understanding of the investigation.
“The fact that Merrick Garland is selectively working through the media rather than releasing further details again makes this all very suspicious,” he said. “There are so many things the American people deserve to know, but we don’t.”
Other Republicans have brought up various Justice Department investigations from the past, suggesting the department is soft on Democrats and their allies, while hammering Republicans and other conservatives.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) cited another concern, saying he worries the Justice Department has been overly aggressive in targeting a former president.
“People are rightfully upset [about] the precedent it sets. It seems highly unnecessary to send armed FBI agents to Mar-a-Lago when he could simply subpoena these documents. Presumably he knew they were there. He was already cooperating … with other documents,” Crenshaw said.
Earlier this year, Trump turned over 15 boxes of documents and other materials to the National Archives. The Justice Department later subpoenaed Trump for additional documents the agency suspected he had withheld.
On Thursday, Garland issued a highly unusual statement defending Monday’s search, saying the Justice Department first tried “less intrusive means” that failed to yield the remaining materials.
Democrats, meanwhile, defended the agency. While they eagerly await more details, they express concerns that at least some of the documents may have been related to defense and national security.
“If the nature of these documents is what [it] it appears to be very serious,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Emily Brooks contributed.