Right-wing conservatives declare war on the FBI for doing its job

By Dennis Catrini, Beacon Correspondent

The GOP considers itself the party of law and order—I disagree.

If there was ever any doubt, former President Donald Trump’s ever-present disruption of our government institutions continues with the recent Republican criticism of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Along with his allies in Congress, Trump aims to weaken federal institutions that conservatives have traditionally embraced as pillars of law and order. 

After the FBI was granted a warrant to  search  Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August 2022, many Republicans proclaimed it as yet another example of the weaponization of federal agencies. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, who is currently leading a Select Subcommittee Investigation into the “Weaponization of the Federal Government,” pushed the idea of bias, tweeting that “Americans are tired of the double standard,” referring to the supposed political agenda the FBI has against Republicans.

Keep in mind that the FBI had every right to execute a search, especially given Trump’s failure to comply with multiple subpoenas, and his attempts to conceal his illegal possession of classified documents—some of which included classified information regarding national security. 

Rational people understand that the Bureau would not be doing a good job if they did not investigate. After all, nobody is above the law. 

Hours after the news broke, Governor of Florida, Republican Ron DeSantis, claimed the raid was unjust and unwarranted. “The raid on Mar-a-Lago 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,” he later tweeted. DeSantis’ claim mirrored one spouted by many on the right; that the FBI was biased by not investigating President Joe Biden’s son, in particular, into allegations that he has used his father’s political connections to secure lucrative business deals in countries such as China and Ukraine. 

In case you are wondering whether the FBI is allegedly giving Hunter Biden the “kid glove” treatment, just note that the bureau is actively investigating him. Meanwhile, a 2020 Republican Senate investigation was held to identify these alleged Hunter Biden wrongdoings—but later issued an 87-page report indicating it did not find any evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing. Oops!

On Aug. 8, 2022, Arizona Republican Paul Gosar tweeted, “The FBI raid on Trump’s home tells us one thing. Failure is not an option. We must destroy the FBI. We must save America. I stand with Donald J. Trump.” 

Really, Paul? You want to destroy a century-old institution that employs over 35,000 people who want nothing more than to serve and protect their country? That makes total sense. 

Many conservatives oppose the Bureau because they believe the federal government is weaponizing it—which is stupid. Even though the president gets to nominate an FBI director, the candidate must still appear at a Judiciary Committee hearing and get a full senate vote before they are hired; this extreme vetting procedure ensures that the potential director isn’t acting on some personal agenda. 

So far, this process seems to have been effective. In 2013, former President Barack Obama appointed James Comey as director. Two years later, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton—a Democrat who worked under Obama—for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. In other words, even if Obama, who is also a Democrat, appointed the director, it did not stop Comey from confirming what he viewed as injustice, no matter political affiliation. 

Current FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Trump in 2017, oversaw the search warrants at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, Biden’s Wilmington residence, and former Vice President Pence’s home in Indiana. Biden and Pence consented to a search, but Trump did not. 

Democrat Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Republican Robert K. Hur, a former senior official in the Trump Justice Department to investigate the Biden classified documents case and dispel any accusations of partisan prejudice. Garland also appointed special counsel Jack Smith, an independent, to oversee the various investigations of Trump’s document mishandling, as well as key aspects of the Jan. 6 investigation.

Conservatives, for some reason, appear to believe Trump’s claim that the FBI is being weaponized, even though Trump himself has tried to obstruct justice many times as a potential subject of investigation. In May 2017, the former president told NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired Comey over the investigation into Russian collusion. 

“When I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,” Trump said in the interview. 

In April 2018, less than a year later, Trump changed his tune, attempting to protect his credibility by tweeting that Comey “was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation.” 

In May 2017, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee, nominated fellow Republican Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation, Trump once again sought to obstruct justice by seeking to fire Mueller for investigating him, as later indicated in the Mueller report

The Republican war continues. 

In October 2021, a memo addressed to Wray and federal prosecutors confirmed “a rise in threats against public servants [that] are not only illegal, [but] run counter to our nation’s core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”

As expected, many Republicans distorted and completely misread it, only wanting to use it as another prop for their baseless distrust in the Bureau. DeSantis tweeted that the FBI “spies and hunts innocent parents at school board meetings.” Meanwhile in an interview with Fox News, former House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy went as far as to claim, “Now the FBI is trying to silence parents. That’s wrong.” These allegations are entirely baseless. 

The report simply highlights a rise in threats that are occurring toward school boards across the country and notes that they should be addressed. Contrary to what Republicans claim, there is no indication in the memo that the FBI wants to “suppress parents’ voices.” In Feb. 2022, a special report from Reuters highlighted how school boards are receiving terroristic threats amid rage over race, gender, and mask policies. 

Brenda Sheridan, a Loudoun County Virginia school board member, opened a note that was initially sent to her child, stating, “if [Brenda] doesn’t quit or resign before the end of the year, we will kill her, but first, we will kill you!” In response to the increased threats of violence, many school boards have asked for federal help, while others increased security on campuses. The threat identified by the FBI is real. 

The FBI is a crucial and efficient institution for enforcing justice, regardless of the criticism it receives from partisan-hack conservatives. In a recent operation, the FBI seized the servers of the notorious Hive ransomware group, gained access to their networks, and captured keys to decrypt their software—thereby thwarting around $130 million in ransom demands, according to department officials. 

To clarify, nobody is claiming that the Bureau is perfect. However, it is also irresponsible to remain silent when Republicans tarnish integral parts of our government, especially when they are doing so to advance a personal agenda. 

Ultimately, the FBI serves a crucial role in maintaining national security and enforcing the rule of law. Its work deserves to be evaluated on its merits, by a free and independent press, rather than subject to politically motivated attacks.