WASHINGTON — Republicans were divided over how to respond to F.B.I.’s search for Mar-a-Lago. On Friday, it was revealed that top-secret files belonging to former President Donald J. Trump had been recovered by federal law enforcement officers.
They disagreed on whether or not to attack the top law enforcement agencies of the country and how aggressive they should be.
Publicly, Trump’s allies continued to push for the ex-president to be seen as a political target and sent urgent appeals for fund-raising to support. However, Mr. Trump’s advisers were unsure of the F.B.I. Having doubts about the F.B.I.’s recovery, some advisers to Mr. Trump began quietly warning fellow Republicans to tone down their statements.
A group of conservative Republicans, known as the House Freedom Caucus, met on Capitol Hill Tuesday with Donald Trump and dined at his Bedminster club in N.J. They denounced the F.B.I. Search was interpreted as an indication that the Biden administration was turning America into a “banana Republic” and canceled Friday’s news conference. They planned to attack the Department of Justice more.
The scheduling conflict was publicly cited as the reason for this decision. It came after an attack on an F.B.I. office by a gunman. On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Trump was seen at his Cincinnati office and more details were revealed about his possession of classified documents.
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Instead, Republican lawmakers addressed the media Friday as members of the House Intelligence Committee. They delivered a nuanced message saying that they remain supportive of law enforcement and reiterated their desire for the F.B.I.
They said they had tough questions for Attorney General MerrickB. Garland regarding his bold decision to order a search of the former President’s house, and they promised to hold Justice Department responsible.
The ranking Republican on this committee, Ohio’s Representative Mike Turner, has denounced comments made by fellow Republicans, including Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, who called for Congress to “defund” the F.B.I. before they had a complete understanding of what officers were looking for. (Ms. Greene now wears a “Defund F.B.I.” hat.
Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, wrote on Twitter that he had to “destroy the F.B.I.” (Mr. Gosar avoided contacting the F.B.I. Search on Friday and devoted his Twitter account to other topics.
On Friday, Turner stated bluntly that he supports the uniformed men and women. We ask that anyone who makes outrageous statements like this, you question them.
Republicans responded with different strategies after a federal judge revoked the warrant authorizing Mar-a-Lago’s search and an inventory of items taken from the property by federal agents. The documents revealed that the F.B.I. had retrieved 11 sets of classified documents. The documents showed that the F.B.I. had retrieved 11 sets classified documents, four of which were top-secret, in an investigation into possible violations of two laws.
Although the Republicans stated that they stood behind Mr. Trump, some Republicans adopted a more measured response.
Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Republican said that he was not against law enforcement. “This is an unusual situation and the D.O.J. “On the other hand, this is a very unusual situation and the D.O.J. should come up and answer questions. This seemed excessively and exaggerated to me.”
Mr. Cole stated that he would listen to the Justice Department’s opinions.
But not for Ms. Greene.
Ms. Greene stated to reporters that she would march to the Capitol to introduce impeachment articles against Mr. Garland. She accused him of “political persecution” towards Mr. Trump.
She stated that “the whole purpose of this was to prevent President Trump ever being able” to hold office.
Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is a strong ally of Donald Trump, also dismissed questions about Trump’s handling top-secret documents. He cited the claim of the former president that he had declassified documents retrieved from the F.B.I.
Jordan stated, “Come on, Jordan’s the ultimate classifier/decider.” This is absurd. It is a fact that everyone knows.
These comments were far from Mr. Turner’s earlier message, which he said to reporters hours earlier: “The handling of classified information” is an issue that our committee deals with, and one that we are very concerned about.
Democrats, whose intraparty tug-of-war over how to reform the police department was used against them by Republicans in order to portray the party as wanting to “defund” the police, seemed to be happy to have the chance to change the course.
“While the F.B.I. is being defunded by the other side, we want to finance our children’s future,” Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee to be the Senate candidate in Ohio, stated on Friday while the House was discussing a spending bill.