From The Texas Newsroom:
“Nixonian.” “Corrupt.” An “abuse of power.”
Those are just a sampling of adjectives embraced by Texas Republicans in defense of former president Donald Trump after the FBI searched his Florida home Monday night.
The FBI-led search was related to materials and records that Trump took with him to his Palm Beach home, called Mar-a-Lago, instead of turning them over to the National Archives after he left office in 2021, the New York Times reported.
In a statement Trump embraced martyrdom, saying he was a victim of an overzealous justice system led by Democrats.
“It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections,” he said. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before.”
Texas Republicans were apoplectic and took to social media to rally around the former president.
“This is next-level Nixonian. Never before has the country seen an Administration go to such extent to use the levers of government to target a former President and political rival,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted. “This weaponizes power to squelch dissent. Such abuses must have limits.”
U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the search was “unprecedented” and aimed to stoke fear in the hearts of Americans by warning they could be next on the federal government’s target list.
“It is corrupt & an abuse of power. What Nixon tried to do, Biden has now implemented: The Biden Admin has fully weaponized DOJ & FBI to target their political enemies. And with 87K new IRS agents, they’re coming for YOU too,” he tweeted, referring to money in a Democrat-backed spending bill that seeks to bolster the ranks of the IRS.
“Congress must demand answers. We need hearings; we need subpoenas. Dems in charge will refuse, but the American people deserve to know why Biden is using the FBI as his political enforcers,” Cruz continued.
Matt Rinaldi, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, was more succinct.
“Abolish the FBI,” he tweeted. Meanwhile Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom the FBI investigated in 2020 after former employees alleged he was using his office to help a donor and is under indictment for securities fraud, said the move signals Biden is “weaponizing” the Justice Department.
“Biden & [Attorney General Merrick] Garland have co-opted the #FBI into a political outfit to benefit Dems & target anyone who speaks out against their radical agenda. They’re fully committed to weaponizing the DOJ to try anything to stop Donald Trump because they know he will hold them accountable,” he tweeted.
State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, said that Republicans must “defeat” the so-called radicals who are obsessed with members of his party.
“Would Clinton do this to Bush? Bush to Clinton? Obama to Bush? Or Trump to Obama? No. Because those men – for all their faults – were focused on governing,” he said in a tweet. “Radicals today are obsessed with Trump & conservatives – running roughshod over our Constitution. We must defeat them.”
The response has been an indication of the belief that Trump is still so popular that defending him is the most important thing for Texas Republicans, said Richard Pineda, director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Both Cruz and fellow Sen. John Cornyn “recognize – even though the difficulty of getting a search warrant and executing something like that against a former president of the United States is incredibly difficult and would have to meet a high standard – that there is a window of time until the actual judicial machinery kicks in, that they can so doubt, that they can rally around the former president,” Pineda told Texas Standard. “And they know that in some cases, that literally is going to be money in the bank. And I think you’re going to see this both from the former president all the way down through Republicans around the United States, but especially in Texas, that will use this as a rallying cry for their campaigns and also to fundraise.”
Media outlets have reported that President Joe Biden was not told in advance about the search, and Democrats have also noted that the director of the FBI was appointed by Trump in 2017.
Meanwhile, some Texas Democrats have offered their own takes on what happened Monday in Florida.
“The Republican Party believes their authoritarian leader should be above the law,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, tweeted. “Trump was so right when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose a single voter. Because it’s a cult. A lawless one at that.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Veasey, D-Fort Worth, invoked the attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters in January 2021 to call out what he said was right-wing hypocrisy.
“You know what the complete bullsh*t is – the right wingers who egged on a dangerous mob to ransack the Capitol & try to overturn an election are now whining about Trump’s FBI raid,” he tweeted in response to a comment from a conservative commentator. “It is clear that Trump is dangerous to our democracy & never should hold elected office again.”
Radio interview produced by Jill Ament.