Where do Republicans stand on Trump probe? 'Silent and split'
As information about the former President's haphazard storage of more than 100 secret documents emerges, Republican leaders maintain silence and stand divided.
Republicans were initially outraged by the FBI raid on Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, but as fresh facts surface about the former President's haphazard storage of more than 100 confidential documents at his private club, Republicans have fallen silent.
The inquiry into Trump's handling of sensitive government material has revealed damning and troubling new evidence. With each court filing, we learn more about the cache of documents the former President stole from the White House and the potential national security risks.
While the unprecedented search has mobilized many Republicans to Trump's defense, others in the party are reluctant to speak out, often fearful of upsetting Trump.
When questioned about the latest developments in the Justice Department's investigation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell declined to comment on Wednesday. “I don’t have any observations about that,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky.
The silence speaks volumes for a party whose President gained the presidency by rallying followers with screams of "Lock Her Up!" Trump chastised Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for having a personal email account and server as Secretary of State. She cooperated swiftly with detectives and was not charged.
The inquiry is also putting Republican senators who rely on Trump for their political livelihoods to the test, especially as the midterm elections approach.
The latest court filing, in which the Justice Department said the FBI's Aug. 8 search at Mar-a-Lago produced more than 100 documents with "classified markings" — twice as many as Trump's team had turned over earlier this summer — quickly drew battle lines among Republicans infighting over Trump.
Latest filing; "concealed, removed government records"
In a late filing on Tuesday, the Justice Department detailed how it had gathered evidence "that government materials were likely disguised and removed" from a storage area at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.
The filing detailed the time-consuming process of attempting to recover government papers that were stolen when Trump left the White House in early 2021. The Justice Department detailed how Trump's legal team claimed that records were solely held in the storage room, but the search turned up documents in the former President's office as well.
The report revealed that some of the newly discovered documents were so classified that even Justice Department attorneys and FBI counterintelligence personnel needed additional credentials to analyze them.
The Justice Department said, “Efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.” It produced a photograph of some of the classified documents found, as evidence. The filing said flatly that the government believes “obstructive conduct” has occurred.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the former President's harshest opponents who recently lost her own reelection primary, tweeted the photo with the caption, "Yet more indefensible conduct by Donald Trump revealed this morning."
However, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a former Trump contender for the presidency, has saved his criticism of federal law enforcement while defending the former President.
“The FBI’s raid was a horrific ‘abuse of power,'” Cruz tweeted just before the Tuesday filing. He said, “There needs to be a complete housecleaning’ at the FBI.”
He was one of the numerous Republican lawmakers and congressional candidates who raised money this week by complaining about the Justice Department. On Wednesday, Cruz's office did not reply to a request for new comments.
Widespread concerns about the economy and inflation have contributed to a decidedly gloomy national mood, both on #Biden and the nation's trajectory.— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) July 12, 2022
A new poll shows that a majority of #Democrats would prefer a new candidate on the ballot in 2024 over #US President #JoeBiden. pic.twitter.com/p5yUDhhIuK
The Texas Senator is not alone in shifting his criticism away from Trump and toward the government investigators and searchers. The Republican Party, which formerly stood for law and order, has been shattered by Trump's actions, some of which are stark and frightening.
Republicans rallied around Trump in the immediate wake of the search and sought additional information from the Justice Department. Republicans in the House and Senate, as well as some Democrats, requested hearings and briefings.
However, when fresh evidence becomes available, such as the court's publication last week of the government affidavit supporting the search and Tuesday's Justice Department brief, Trump's allies may find it more difficult to defend the former President and his team's actions.
Some Trump supporters seized a photograph of sensitive information contained in the Justice Department submission as evidence. Though the records were covered, some said that if the information was so sensitive, it should not have been made public.
“You people are so bad at this,” tweeted Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., directing her criticism as much at Democrats and those sharing the image.