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GOP vows revenge for Trump probes if they win Congress

Aug. 11, 2022 Updated Thu., Aug. 11, 2022 at 12:54 p.m.

Police outside of Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022, the day after the FBI searched Donald Trump's estate.    (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)
Police outside of Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022, the day after the FBI searched Donald Trump's estate.   (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)
By Billy House and Laura Litvan Bloomberg News

Republicans vow they will waste no time tearing into the FBI search of Donald Trump’s home and other investigations of the former president if the GOP wins control of Congress in November, signaling a protracted fight with the Biden administration.

Party leaders and committee chairmen-in-waiting have already pledged to hold aggressive hearings and issue subpoenas in the wake of Monday’s unprecedented search of the former president’s Florida home.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner of Ohio, has already written to the National Archives and Records Administration demanding officials preserve the documents and communications tied to NARA’s criminal referral to the FBI, which appears to have sparked the search.

The response, Turner said, should be written in a way that is “potentially responsive to a congressional inquiry, request, investigation, or subpoena that may be initiated or otherwise undertaken by a committee of Congress or any other investigative entity.”

There’s little Republicans can do now in the minority. But winning one or both chambers would allow them to harness subpoena and other powers to launch a widespread probe that could go as high as President Joe Biden himself. The White House has said it was in the dark on the Mar-a-Lago search.

With the president still holding veto power over legislation, such congressional investigations would be one of the most visible avenues for Republicans to exert authority. Hearings the party held after the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, for example, went on for months and didn’t make much of a splash but did put key Democrats, like then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the hot seat.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who has his eyes on the speaker’s office, immediately promised to “leave no stone unturned.”

In a tweet, he warned Attorney General Merrick Garland to “preserve documents and clear your calendar.”

Representative Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a Trump ally, has insisted that Biden has weaponized the Justice Department.

Jordan demanded Garland and FBI Director and Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, should appear for questioning this week before the Judiciary Committee, which has legislative oversight over both. Jordan, however, can’t schedule hearings as the ranking GOP member.

“If Republicans retake the House majority in November, I promise you we will get you the answers that you deserve,” Jordan later promised in an appeal to donors.

Across the board, Republicans — even Trump’s potential 2024 rivals for the GOP nomination — rallied behind the former president.

In the Senate, where Republicans have a decent chance of taking the majority, some senior Republicans insisted Justice Department officials will have to answer questions about what led to the search.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, assailed the lack of a public explanation for the search and said he shared his concerns with Wray. The warrant for the search is sealed.

“If the FBI isn’t extraordinarily transparent about its justification for yesterday’s actions and committed to rooting out political bias that has infected their most sensitive investigations, they will have sealed their own fate,” Grassley said in a statement.

Another senior Republican on the Judiciary panel, Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, also called for some answers.

“You don’t do things before an election unless you have to,” Graham said Tuesday at an event in his home state. “I want to know what led to this. I think every Republican believes that the FBI and other organizations have lost their mind when it comes to Trump.”

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who has battled with the former president, insisted “the country deserves a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events on Monday.”

“Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should already have provided answers to the American people and must do immediately,” McConnell said.

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