OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The House’s third-ranking Republican on Friday ripped the Justice Department and FBI for targeting former President Donald Trump in an unprecedented raid on his Mar-a-Lago property a week ago.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, head of the House Republican Conference whose name has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Trump in 2024, argued that Americans have plenty of reasons to be suspicious of the raid. A member of the House Intelligence Committee, the New York Republican also pledged oversight hearings if her party retakes control of the chamber in the November midterms.
“Republicans are committed to immediate oversight, accountability, and a fulsome investigation to provide needed transparency and answers to the American people regarding [President] Joe Biden and his administration’s weaponization of the Department of Justice and FBI against Joe Biden’s political opponent,” Stefanik noted during a news conference.
“President Donald Trump is Joe Biden’s most [likely] political opponent in 2024 and this is less than 100 days from critical midterm elections,” she added.
.@RepStefanik: "President Donald Trump is Joe Biden's most likeliest political opponent in 2024, and this is less than 100 days from critical midterm elections. The FBI raid of President Trump is a complete abuse and overreach of its authority." https://t.co/t6Gb4NvNSg pic.twitter.com/jrp9hBaVdP
— The Hill (@thehill) August 12, 2022
“The FBI raid of President Trump is a complete abuse and overreach of its authority. And as the American people know, unfortunately, this is the same agency leadership that protected Hillary Clinton, James Comey and continues to protect Hunter Biden, the same agency leadership that perpetrated the false Russia hoax for years,” Stefanik said.
According to a Twitter summary of various reporting:
The US Justice Department is investigating whether former President Donald Trump violated the Espionage Act, which prohibits retaining national security information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary, The New York Times, Politico, and The Guardian report. Per an FBI warrant obtained by the outlets, Trump is also being investigated for violating additional statutes relating to obstruction of justice and destroying federal government records. Conviction under these statutes can result in imprisonment or fines.
Regarding Stefanik’s comments, “the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Clinton kept classified documents on her unsecured personal email server at her home — making them potentially hackable to foreign powers worldwide — but faced no legal consequences,” The Western Journal explained.
The outlet went on to report that then-FBI Director James Comey noted in an unusual public announcement in early July that no charges were likely to be filed because “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring them — by then-President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, considering Clinton was cruising towards the Democratic presidential nomination at the time.
Comey said prosecutors likely could not prove intent — the key element to violations of national security statutes — “though he also acknowledged gross negligence would constitute a violation,” the Western Journal added.
“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said, citing past cases.
That same month, after Comey announced Clinton was in the clear, the FBI launched its “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation — which came to be known as ‘Russiagate,’ a counterintelligence probe that was premised on a fabricated dossier paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
Meanwhile, Hunter Biden has been under investigation since the Trump administration for various allegations including tax and foreign lobbying violations. Included are accusations of illegal drug use, lying on a federal firearms background check form, and other corrupt activities involving his father, President Joe Biden.
“Hardly a day goes by without another revelation about how intimately involved Joe Biden was with his son Hunter Biden’s corrupt foreign business dealings. The fact that Joe was in meetings with senior foreign leaders on behalf of Hunter and his business associates while Vice President further proves that Joe has been lying to the American people,” Stefanik said in an interview with the New York Post last month.
With speculation high that Trump will run for president in 2024, rumors are beginning to surface that he could choose Stefanik as his running mate.
“There is a part of Trump who thinks he needs a female VP. He definitely likes her, likely because of how effusive she is to him,” an adviser to the former president told CNN in May.
“President Trump thinks very highly of Elise Stefanik. … She has been talked about in circles close to him as a potential vice president,” Chris Ruddy, a longtime friend of the former president, added. “And there’s a feeling among a lot of people on the Republican side that they need to have a woman on the ticket this time.”