The historic spectacle of the FBI raiding the former President’s instantly recognizable Palm Beach estate lit Twitter on fire with outraged Republicans venting about the news.
State Republicans argued the raid — first reported by Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch — is an example of the federal government being weaponized against the administration’s opponents. Others said the FBI must quickly explain the decision.
The state’s Democratic pols, meanwhile, were quick to remind the Twitterverse that Donald Trump shouldn’t be surprised to find law enforcement at his door.
Still, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio went on something of a Tweetstorm, evoking the political upheaval in his parent’s native country, Cuba.
“Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships. But never before in America,” Rubio said.
He also bashed the Senate’s recently passed legislation that increases the IRS workforce.
“After todays (sic) raid on Mar A Lago what do you think the left plans to use those 87,000 new IRS agents for?”
And Rubio also questioned the federal government’s priorities. “The FBI isn’t doing anything about the groups vandalizing Catholic Churches, firebombing Pro-Life groups or threatening Supreme Court justices. But they find time to raid Mar A Lago,” he asserted
The state’s junior Senator was a good deal more measured in his response. But U.S. Sen. Rick Scott was making basically the same point as Rubio.
“The FBI’s raid of Mar-A-Lago is incredibly concerning, especially given the (Joe) Biden admin’s history of going after parents and other political opponents. This is 3rd World country stuff. We need answers NOW. This FBI must explain what they were doing today & why.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis was also pessimistic about the historic event. And he gave the Biden administration a new noun descriptor.
“The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves,” DeSantis tweeted. “Now the Regime is getting another 87K IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic.”
Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who’s competing for the right to unseat DeSantis come November, retweeted his take with an ample helping of scorn.
“Your tweet is another escalation of your pathetic loyalty to an insurrectionist over country and the rule of law,” she said.
Democratic state Rep. Carlos G. Smith followed a similar form, retweeting DeSantis’ take. The Governor’s reaction says a lot more about DeSantis than the actual raid, Smith argued.
“DeSantis weaponized nearly every state agency and department against LGBTQ Floridians,” Smith tweeted. “The parents + families of transgender youth are quite literally fleeing Florida to escape persecution from his REGIME. Pure projection from an authoritarian leader and master propagandist.”
Democrat Charlie Crist, also a candidate for Governor, took aim at DeSantis’ response to the raid in an emailed response pointing out that no one is above the law.
“Governor DeSantis’s knee-jerk partisan response to this law enforcement action proves yet again he is more interested in playing politics than seeking justice or the rule of law,” Crist’s statement said.
On Twitter, Crist called DeSantis’ reaction an attack on the FBI.
“Ron DeSantis attacks law enforcement for legally raiding Mar-a-Lago while he’s yet to say anything about the heinous Nazis in our state who’ve been rallying in support of him,” Crist tweeted. “Also, attacking a private company, Disney, for free speech is about as “banana republic” as it gets.”
Two Republican members of DeSantis’ Cabinet — Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — demanded additional explanation about the raid from federal officials.
“You would expect there to be subpoenas if there was any suspect of classified information — requesting documents — as has been done in these similar cases, not 30 FBI agents rushing in on a search warrant,” Moddy said during a Fox News hit. “It is certainly unusual. And I tell you what, the charges, if there are any the allegations, this better be a rock solid case to wreck whatever respect there is right now for the FBI.”
Added Patronis on Twitter, “This administration has lost its mind. It is corrupt. It is political. They raid a former President, they do nothing about the border or about Hunter (Biden). Pure Banana Republic tactics. Only in dictatorship do they use the power of government to eliminate their enemies.”
The raid had Republican congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna afraid and immune to the focus of the Jan. 6 hearings.
“The FBI had no reason to raid the home of President Trump,” she tweeted. “We live in dangerous times when the justice System is failing. What happened to President Trump should have NEVER happened and this event brings great dishonor on those in the FBI that still believe in our constitution.”
Republican Deborah Adeimy, running to represent the congressional district that includes Mar-a-Lago Congress — issued a statement that described the FBI’s action an “invasion,” a “siege” and an “abuse of power.”
“Palm Beach, Florida has been my family’s home for generations, so I feel this shocking FBI invasion is a personal gut punch for me,” the statement read.
The Democrat she hopes to unseat, Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel, did not say anything about the news in her district.
Reactions from Florida elected officials follow:
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican, tweeted: “Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships. But never before in America. After todays raid on Mar A Lago what do you think the left plans to use those 87,000 new IRS agents for? The FBI isn’t doing anything about the groups vandalizing Catholic Churches, firebombing Pro-Life groups or threatening Supreme Court justices. But they find time to raid Mar-a-Lago. (President Joe) Biden is playing with fire by using a document dispute to get the Justice Department to persecute a likely future election opponent. Because one day what goes around is going to come around. And then we become Nicaragua under (Daniel) Ortega.”
Sen. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican, tweeted: “The FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago is incredibly concerning, especially given the Biden administration’s history of going after parents and other political opponents. This is 3rd World country stuff. We need answers NOW. The FBI must explain what they were doing today and why.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, tweeted: “The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves. Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic.”
Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for Governor, released a statement: “In the United States of America, no one is above the law, not even a former President. Governor DeSantis’s knee-jerk partisan response to this law enforcement action proves yet again he is more interested in playing politics than seeking justice or the rule of law. Healing and uniting our state and nation starts with respecting the rule of law. If Ron DeSantis can’t understand that, or refuses to, he’s not qualified to be governor of Florida.”
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democratic candidate for Governor, tweeted: “It bears repeating: Trump never held a fundraiser for me at Mar-a-Lago. And I’m the only candidate for governor of Florida who can say that. (To DeSantis) Your tweet is another escalation of your pathetic loyalty to an insurrectionist over country and the rule of law. Ron DeSantis is defending Donald Trump instead of the rule of law, so I’ll be holding a press conference tomorrow in front of the governor’s mansion to remind Floridians that nobody is above the law.”
Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, spoke to Fox News and said in part: “You would expect there to be subpoenas if there was any suspect of classified information – requesting documents – as has been done in these similar cases, not 30 FBI agents rushing in on a search warrant. It is certainly unusual. And I tell you what, the charges, if there are any the allegations, this better be a rock solid case to wreck whatever respect there is right now for the FBI.”
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Republican, tweeted: “This administration has lost its mind. It is corrupt. It is political. They raid a former President, they do nothing about the border or about Hunter. Pure Banana Republic tactics. Only in dictatorship do they use the power of government to eliminate their enemies.”
Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Palm Harbor Republican, released a statement: “The latest example of the Biden administration weaponizing federal agencies to target political rivals while ignoring the disturbing conduct of their allies is truly outrageous. This raid is yet another reminder that President Biden, and the radical left, will use any tactic they so choose to discredit President Trump for political gain. When Republicans take back the House this November, we cannot waste the opportunity to lead. Americans can be assured that there will finally be long-overdue oversight. We must immediately begin conducting hearings on the out-of-control DOJ and Attorney’s General Merrick Garland. We must take action to protect the American people from the gross misconduct being displayed by liberal Washington bureaucrats who are clearly abusing their power and undermining public confidence in the federal government.”
Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, tweeted: “Political targeting is the hallmark of a Banana Republic, not the United States. Biden’s Justice Department crossed the line when machine gun-toting agents raided the home of a former President and possible 2024 candidate. House Republicans will exert strong oversight next year.
Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican, released a statement: “The raid on former President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago is unconscionable. The FBI is operating like the wild west by completely upending judicial process and norms in their relentless assault against the former president. Let’s not forget that this is the same FBI that classified parents as domestic terrorists and buried countless sexual assault allegations against serial abuser Larry Nassar by women of the USA’s Olympic team. As an American and elected official, I’m horrified and deeply concerned about the blatant abuse of power by the Biden Department of Justice. I also have so many questions about why the DOJ took such a drastic measure just 91 days before a politically charged midterm election. Today’s unprecedented invasion of former President Trump’s private residence is an assault on our Constitutional Republic and reeks of political retribution.”
Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican: “The American people have lost any reason we have to trust the FBI and DOJ. They’ve both been part of the political witch hunts against President Trump in the past and allowed the Biden Administration to weaponize their agencies for strictly political purposes. They need to justify this raid to Congress and the American people to demonstrate that this isn’t just another of their partisan political games. Until that happens, this is a compelling reason for our decaying trust in ‘justice’ from the federal government.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, tweeted: “So interesting that this happens right as we are exposing undeniable criminal corruption by Hunter Biden. Weird. I stand with President Trump!”
Rep. Brian Mast, a Stuart Republican, tweeted: “The same FBI that spent four years leading a political witch hunt against Donald Trump, even going so far as to use documents that were knowingly falsified by the Democrat Party, is now raiding the President’s home. The same FBI that allowed Hillary Clinton to maintain a private server and delete over 30,000 emails without ever facing prosecution, is now raiding the President’s home. The same FBI that has turned a blind eye to Hunter Biden’s laptops and shady overseas dealings, is now raiding the President’s home.”
Rep. Bill Posey, a Rockledge Republican: “The left and their woke allies in Washington have been obsessed with their phony narratives and disproven conspiracy theories about Donald Trump for the last seven years. He is the most investigated president in history and nothing criminal has turned up. Yet, the same Department of Justice and FBI weaponized against President Trump has turned a blind eye to decades of the Biden Family’s corrupt business practices and influence peddling in the Ukraine, China, Russia and elsewhere. The Washington swamp has been consumed with this obsession of getting Donald Trump at all costs— and it’s undemocratic. The Biden Justice Department’s raid on the former President’s residence is unprecedented and takes a page from third world dictators who jail dissidents and quash dissent. Instead, this Administration should be focused on fixing the economy, lowering prices, building American energy independence, securing our borders, protecting our communities from rampant crime, and countering China.”
Rep. John Rutherford, a Jacksonville Republican, tweeted: “Director (Christopher) Wray says the FBI have limited resources and this is how they choose to use those limited resources? He claims to use ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to turn a blind eye to the (Chinese Communist Party), their elite capture at the highest levels of our government and to Hunter Biden’s laptop. I want to see an immediate release of the search warrant and the ‘probably cause’ used to obtain it. Release it Director Wray, NOW.”
Rep. Darren Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, tweeted: “Former President Trump is alleged to have unlawfully taken boxes of classified documents down to Mar-a-Lago. This has been reported on for months. He’s finally being held accountable for his actions. Apparently a few of my colleagues are surprised by this.”
Rep. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, tweeted: “Even before Trump was president, the FBI and DOJ spied on the Trump campaign, abused a secret FISA court, and claimed ‘Russian collusion.’ Now this! Attorney General Merrick Garland says he is not a political operative for the Left? The U.S. has become a totalitarian state run by Deep state, woke, radical Democrats who are hell bent on destroying our country. You want to take Trump down? All this will do is bring more people to his cause.”
Rep. Michael Waltz, a St. Augustine Beach Republican, tweeted: “If true, this move will further damage public confidence in the DOJ to conduct fair and non-political investigations…terrible for the future of America!”
Rep. Daniel Webster, a Clermont Republican, released a statement: “The raid of Mar-A-Lago is a troubling and an unprecedented move by the Department of Justice and FBI. Attorney General Garland and FBI Director Wray must swiftly and publicly explain these actions to Congress and all Americans. The FBI’s track record for following the rules and avoiding politics when it comes to President Trump isn’t good, and this action only furthers the politicization of the FBI that began under President (Barack) Obama and continues under President Biden. This is the same Department of Justice that has called parents ‘Domestic Terrorists’ and said they didn’t have the time to hold accountable those who violated federal law outside SCOTUS’ homes. The actions coming from this administration are chilling and warrant extensive oversight. When Republicans retake the majority in the U.S. House, I will do my part to ensure that this administration is held accountable for not enforcing federal law and abusing their power against political dissidents.”
Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Hollywood Democrat, released a statement: “Hardworking members of law enforcement continue to have my full faith and trust. If crimes were committed by the previous administration, I hope that these investigations will bring them to light and that our justice system will address them appropriately. The United States is a nation of laws and no one – not even the President – is above the law.”
Congressional candidate Laurel Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican, released a statement: “The execution of a search warrant at the residence of a former President of the United States is an unprecedented action by the Department of Justice. As a former prosecutor, I’m extremely concerned about the implications of the search and the effect it will have on public trust in the institutions of our criminal justice system. We need transparency and accountability from our law enforcement institutions. I urge U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to immediately address unanswered questions regarding this action, including why it was necessary and why this aggressive step was taken. Federal law enforcement agencies should not be weaponized or abused for political gain, and Attorney General Garland and FBI Director Wray have an obligation to provide accurate, transparent and open information about this disturbing raid. The American people deserve to have confidence in their leaders and in their criminal justice system.”
Congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna, a St. Petersburg Republican, released a statement: “What happened tonight to President Trump is inexcusable. The fact is that the Biden DOJ authorized a search warrant and had the FBI carry out their dirty work. This should have NEVER happened. President Trump was correct in saying this is worse than watergate. Biden/ (Nancy) Pelosi/ (Charles) Schumer Democrats are politically weaponizing our OWN taxpayer-funded agencies AGAINST the American people AND political targets. We MUST stand United and actively work to expose the corruption that is infecting our country. My prayers and thoughts are with you, Mr. President. We will not back down. We will not be silenced. This is the United States of America, and we will not allow this Soviet-style behavior to continue to take place. WE WILL TAKE BACK THE HOUSE AND SENATE, and once we take back the House, we will get answers. Starting with WHO AUTHORIZED THE WARRANT?”
Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics contributed to this report.