Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Republican lawmakers to cut funding for federal law enforcement as investigations swirl around the former president.
Congressional Republicans rushed to Trump’s defense after a Manhattan prosecutor indicted Trump last week for alleged violations of New York law. Trump seems to hope they’ll also defend him from any federal charges that could come his way.
“REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS SHOULD DEFUND THE DOJ AND FBI UNTIL THEY COME TO THEIR SENSES,” Trump wrote in a post on his website, Truth Social. “THE DEMOCRATS HAVE TOTALLY WEAPONIZED LAW ENFORCEMENT IN OUR COUNTRY AND ARE VICIOUSLY USING THIS ABUSE OF POWER TO INTERFERE WITH OUR ALREADY UNDER SIEGE ELECTIONS!”
Several far-right Republicans suggested defunding the FBI last August after agents searched Trump’s home in Florida for presidential records that should have been turned over to the National Archives after Trump left office.
The Justice Department has also been investigating Trump’s various efforts to interfere with the transfer of power after losing the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to handle both cases.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have not signaled they would seriously consider defunding the Justice Department ― the idea has been omitted from their early budget proposals ― but they have gone to great lengths to defend Trump from the various criminal investigations.
Shortly after the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ― who at the time was the House minority leader ― promised that if Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, they would retaliate against the Justice Department.
“The Justice Department has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” McCarthy said at the time.
Sure enough, this year, McCarthy created a new “Weaponization of Government” committee that has sought to cast doubt on investigations of Trump and his supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, while the House Oversight Committee has sought to tie Biden to the Chinese Communist Party and highlighted the supposed mistreatment of Trump supporters held at D.C. jail for their roles in the Capitol riot.
McCarthy said Tuesday, following Trump’s arrest and arraignment in New York over allegedly falsified business records, that Republicans would go after Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney. Bragg charged Trump with felonies for labeling payments to his lawyer as business expenses when they were really reimbursements for hush money that amounted to an illegal 2016 campaign expenditure.
Echoing the former president, McCarthy and other Republicans have suggested that any investigation of Trump is automatically illegitimate.
“Alvin Bragg is attempting to interfere in our democratic process by invoking federal law to bring politicized charges against President Trump,” McCarthy said on Twitter. “Bragg’s weaponization of the federal justice process will be held accountable by Congress.”
Republicans have also questioned whether the federal government funded Bragg’s investigation and even suggested Biden could be its mastermind. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the weaponization committee, said Wednesday on Fox News that Biden had a “cheesy smile” when asked about the charges.
“What did that smile mean?” Jordan said. “I don’t know.”