Rebukes of federal law enforcement, calls for protest and a promise to “root out the rot” at the Department of Justice came from furious Inland conservatives after news of an FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate as part of an unprecedented criminal probe.
“A federal raid on the home of a former President and political opponent of the sitting President is unprecedented and a dangerous line to cross,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, said in a news release issued Tuesday, Aug. 9, that decried “the politicization of (the Department of Justice) and FBI.”
A post on Redlands Tea Party Patriots Facebook page urged people to gather with flags and signs at 9 a.m. Wednesday outside the FBI office in Riverside as part of a “nationwide protest (of) FBI tyranny.”
The post asked protesters not to block roadways. “Be peaceful & law abiding at all times,” the post reads.
Using a search warrant signed by a judge, federal agents visited Mar-a-Lago on Monday, Aug. 8, and searched Trump’s safe as part of an investigation into his handling of classified documents, according to published reports.
Trump, his supporters and elected Republicans condemned the search as political persecution targeting the former president, who enjoys strong support within the GOP and could run against Democratic President Joe Biden in 2024.
Trump’s critics defended the search as proof that no one is above the law and a sign that consequences are coming for the one-time reality TV star, who was impeached twice, including on a charge of inciting an insurrection following the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Over the years, Trump has been accused sexual assault, trying to overturn the 2020 election, tax evasion and using taxpayer dollars to enrich his businesses. He has not been criminally charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
Calvert, who faces a potentially tough re-election fight against Democrat Will Rollins for a seat representing parts of western Riverside County and the Coachella Valley, received Trump’s endorsement in March.
The Biden administration “should act with an unprecedented level of transparency and provide the American people with the basis for this search and seizure,” Calvert said. “ … American faith in the DOJ and FBI is at an all-time low and we have a right to know the facts about this investigation.”
Should the GOP win a majority of House of Representatives seats in November, “it will be incumbent upon us (to) investigate and root out the rot that has infiltrated these agencies,” Calvert added.
Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, said via email that Calvert is “unbelievably reckless … to attack law enforcement without having all of the facts.”
“Every time he says that people cannot trust the ‘rot’ in the FBI or the Justice Department, he undermines the public’s faith in police officers, agents, and prosecutors all over the country who are just trying to do their jobs with integrity … We deserve a representative who cares about the rule of law and keeping our national security secrets safe more than subservience to any one politician.”
Rep. Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, called on the justice department to “immediately produce the evidence they relied on in taking the unprecedented action of searching the home of a former president.”
“Failure to do so will only confirm the suspicions of many that this was a politically motivated action against a potential presidential candidate by an administration of the opposite party,” said Obernolte, who also has Trump’s endorsement.
“Regardless of our political affiliations, we all agree that the enforcement of our laws should be fair, just, and unbiased,” Obernolte added. “If the DOJ fails to prove that is true in this case, it will only deepen the partisan divisions in our country.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Bonsall, who represents most of Temecula, tweeted Monday: “We know officials of the DOJ have broken the rules before to target Donald Trump. We need to know if it happened again today.”
We know officials of the DOJ have broken the rules before to target Donald Trump.
We need to know if it happened again today.
— Rep. Darrell Issa (@repdarrellissa) August 9, 2022
The raid “is a serious example of government overreach,” San Jacinto City Council Member Brian Hawkins, who is running as a Republican against Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, said in a fundraising email.
“The 14th Amendment obviously doesn’t exist for Biden’s administration and the Democrats who have been on a multi-billion-dollar witch hunt to destroy President Trump,” Hawkins said. “And the message they’re sending is: If you’re a Republican, you have no right to privacy.”
In an emailed statement, Ruiz’s office said the congress member “believes it is essential that this investigation be free from political considerations. He will let the investigation run its course without comment.”
While Republicans have been vocal and angry about the raid, Inland Democrats have avoided making public statements about it.
Except for Ruiz, none of the House Democrats who represent most of the Inland Empire — Reps. Pete Aguilar of San Bernardino, Norma Torres of Pomona, Mark Takano of Riverside — responded Tuesday to requests for comment on the matter. Their Twitter feeds also made no mention of the raid as of Tuesday afternoon.