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Missouri AG Schmitt says he’ll take a ‘wrecking ball’ to DOJ as Republicans react to Trump raid

Aug. 9, 2022 Updated Tue., Aug. 9, 2022 at 8:53 p.m.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt acknowledges the crowd of supporters at his election night watch party in St. Louis after winning the GOP primary for U.S. Senate on Aug. 2.  (Emily Curiel/The Kansas City Star/TNS)
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt acknowledges the crowd of supporters at his election night watch party in St. Louis after winning the GOP primary for U.S. Senate on Aug. 2. (Emily Curiel/The Kansas City Star/TNS)
By Daniel Desrochers The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri, decried an FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, calling it an “unprecedented weaponization” of the Department of Justice against one of President Joe Biden’s political opponents.

Schmitt cited several actions by the Department of Justice that conservatives have taken issue with – a letter asking the FBI to look into threats made against school board members, an audit of a local police agency’s concealed carry permits, lack of action against protests outside of the houses of U.S. Supreme Court justices, lack of action on the president’s son’s financial and business ties to foreign countries and the proposed 87,000 new IRS agents in a bill moving through Congress (IRS agents are in the Department of Treasury and refer their findings to the Department of Justice).

“When I’m in the Senate, I’ll take a wrecking ball to this overtly political DOJ and the Administrative State,” said Schmitt, the state’s top law enforcement official.

Schmitt was one of several prominent Republicans in Missouri and Kansas – and across the country – to express outrage over the raid and call for retaliation against the FBI and Department of Justice.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who is often a proponent for tough law enforcement, said the FBI needed to be reformed from “the bottom up.” He also called for the search warrant to be published, called for the impeachment or resignation of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and called for the removal of FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“The raid by Joe Biden’s FBI on the home of a former president who is also Biden’s chief political opponent is an unprecedented assault on democratic norms and the rule of law,” Hawley wrote on Twitter. “Biden has taken our republic into dangerous waters.”

Wray was appointed by Trump in 2017. It is unclear if Biden knew about the raid before it took place.

The raid took place Monday morning and became widely known that evening after Trump put out a statement saying his “beautiful home” was “under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” The search focused on classified documents the former president took to his Mar-a-Lago home. Earlier this year, the National Archives took 15 boxes of documents that the former president took with him to the golf club instead of handing them over to the archives.

Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Trudy Busch Valentine’s campaign criticized Schmitt, saying he didn’t understand how the justice system works and was just falling in lockstep with his party’s reaction to the news.

“There’s obviously a lot we still don’t know, but it seems unlikely that the DOJ would have taken such extraordinary action without a substantial basis for doing so,’ said Jacob Long, Busch Valentine’s communication director. “Trudy has complete confidence in our law enforcement community to do their jobs without any sort of political interference.”

The conservative outcry over the investigation marks a shift by a party where “lock her up” chants commonly echoed through Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign, after Hillary Clinton was accused of mishandling classified documents during her time as secretary of state.

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican, questioned on Twitter Tuesday night whether the raid was a “political hit job.” He, too, drew a connection between the increased number of IRS agents, who are being hired to look into people cheating on their taxes, and the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago.

“This means we’re all fair game for our newly enlarged gov’t oversight – no one is safe from political persecution,” Marshall wrote.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is the Republican nominee for governor, connected the raid to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who appointed a special prosecutor to investigate her opponent. She said there was evidence that he was involved in an effort to tamper with voting machines, according to Politico.

“In America, the criminal law must never be politicized, so these events on their face present serious questions and concerns,” Schmidt said. “These actions must be intently scrutinized in the days and weeks ahead.”

While there was outcry among Republicans who have presented themselves as ardent Trump supporters, some in Congress refrained from commenting. Neither U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., nor U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., responded to a request for comment about the raid. Neither commented about the raid on Twitter, where they are less active than the junior senators from their respective states.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, a Kansas Democrat who is in a tough re-election campaign against Republican Amanda Adkins, stressed that there is a lot still unknown about the raid.

“There’s a lot we don’t know yet about this investigation, but as I’ve always said, no one is above the law,” Davids said.

Adkins’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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