Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Search of Trump’s Home Roils 2022 Midterms, 2024 Presidential Race

Yeah, it's big. There was virtually unanimous outrage on Twitter last night (follow scroll down here). Even some Democrats see the threat to republican democracy. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "Many Republicans denounce FBI raid on former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence as politically motivated":

WASHINGTON—The FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home rallied many prominent Republicans around the former president and could shift the political course of both the midterm elections for control of Congress and the 2024 presidential race.

While many details of the FBI’s investigation remain unknown, the developments both challenge and underscore Mr. Trump’s hold on the GOP, just as he is publicly considering a third run for the White House. Many Republicans, including potential presidential rivals, denounced the search, casting it as a politically driven action by the Biden administration, while others demanded more details from the Justice Department but stopped short of criticizing its motives.

“This is a brazen weaponization of the FBI by Biden’s DOJ against his political opponent,” tweeted Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.), a member of the GOP leadership, reflecting the stance of many House Republicans.

People familiar with the matter said the search was part of an investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified information. Trump lawyer Christina Bobb, who was present during the search, said that federal agents “seized paper.”

The White House didn’t get any advance notice of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, an administration official said.

The Justice Department has been looking into the former president’s handling of official records and his actions around the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Monday’s search is separate from the Jan. 6 investigation, the people familiar with the probe said. Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and casts the investigations as part of a long-running campaign by Democrats.

People close to Mr. Trump said the search could further motivate him to announce a run for president in 2024 before the midterm elections.

Shortly after midnight, Mr. Trump posted a campaign-style video on his TruthSocial account that teased a possible campaign. “We are a nation that has become a joke … but soon we will have greatness again.” It ends with an on-screen message: “The best is yet to come.”

Some GOP lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) have been pushing Mr. Trump to hold off on any announcement until after the election, to not upset the party’s chances of taking back the House. While Mr. Trump remains a powerful motivator of Republican voters, he repels many swing voters, and party leaders have focused their midterms pitch on the economy and inflation. Republicans are seen as heavily favored to win back the House, while the Senate is seen as a tossup.

Polls show Mr. Trump as the top GOP candidate in a hypothetical 2024 presidential field, and he easily won a straw poll at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference. “We may have to do it again,” he said in a speech Saturday at the gathering.

Mr. McCarthy said late Monday that “the Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and pledged to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland and the department if Republicans take power.

Democrats have defended the raid. “No person is above the law, not even a former president of the United States,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on NBC’s “Today Show.”

House Republican leaders will have a chance to take the temperature of the conference at a previously scheduled members-only call on Tuesday that was set up to discuss the Senate-passed climate and health bill. Members of the Republican Study Committee, made up of House conservatives, are scheduled to have dinner with Mr. Trump on Tuesday night at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club.

The members-only call is shaping as a proving ground for Mr. McCarthy, who is in line for the House speakership next year if Republicans regain control. Mr. McCarthy needs to show that he can be tough on the issue to respond to the restive conservative wing of his base, a House Republican said. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) suggested this week on “The War Room” podcast, broadcast by Trump ally Stephen Bannon, that Mr. McCarthy shouldn’t be speaker.

A Republican takeover of the House in the November midterm elections would give them subpoena powers in 2023 and the ability to create committees and lead investigations. Many Republicans were already planning to investigate Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and said following the search of Mr. Trump’s home that they would hold hearings on the FBI’s actions as well.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is increasingly seen by many Republicans nationally as a potential Trump alternative, joined in the condemnation. The raid “is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents,” he said.

While some rivals were quick to defend Mr. Trump, the developments also underscored what they see as his vulnerability as a deeply divisive figure in American politics. He drew a record number of votes for an incumbent U.S. president in 2020, but lost by about seven million votes to President Biden.

“Other Republican leaders will see him as vulnerable,” said GOP donor Dan Eberhart. “There is now blood in the water.” He said that could give added reason for potential 2024 candidates, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, to look at the race...