Republican officials in Kentucky are sounding off on the FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Florida estate, ranging from demanding details on the action, to suggesting without evidence that the federal government planted evidence to frame him of a crime.
Few details have emerged since the FBI conducted a search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago property Monday, with sources telling multiple media outlets the search warrant was signed Monday by a federal magistrate judge in West Palm Beach.
Two people familiar with the search told USA TODAY Monday the action was connected to Trump's alleged removal of documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago property when his presidential term ended in January 2021.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron
The day after the search, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron — a Republican who is running for governor next year and was recently endorsed by Trump — tweeted out a full defense of the former president against his critics.
"President Trump is a fighter," Cameron wrote. "No raid at Mar-a-Lago is going to stop him from working hard for the American people. Folks here in Kentucky will always support someone the media despises and the left hates, because it means that person is standing up for their values."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to answer questions from the media about the FBI search Tuesday as he toured flood-ravaged parts of Eastern Kentucky, but later issued a statement that fell short of defending Trump, while demanding answers from federal law enforcement.
"The country deserves a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events of Monday," McConnell tweeted. "Attorney General (Merrick) Garland and the Department of Justice should already have provided answers to the American people and must do so immediately."
By Tuesday evening, attorneys for Trump were suggesting on television appearances that the FBI "planted" evidence at Mar-a-Lago — which the former president then proceeded to do in a social media post early Wednesday.
Writing that his attorneys were not allowed to witness the search, Trump added that "they wanted to be left alone, without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, 'planting.' Why did they STRONGLY insist on having nobody watching them, everybody out?"
Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., picked up where Trump left off in a Fox News appearance Wednesday, asking: "Do I know that the boxes of material they took from Mar-a-Lago, that they won't put things in those boxes to entrap him?"
"How do we know that they're going to be honest with us about what's actually in the boxes? How do we know that was in the box before it left the residence if the lawyers weren't allowed to see everything?"
Paul went on to suggest that Garland should be investigated and possibly impeached for misusing his office "for political purposes."
Rep. Thomas Massie
Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky has tweeted similar sentiments, accusing Biden of directing the raid and calling for the defunding of federal law enforcement agencies.
"After the 2022 elections, Congress must use the power of the purse to rein in the DOJ and FBI," Massie tweeted. "Any Republican who tells you that’s not possible is too addicted to big government to fix this."
The criticism of law enforcement is a stark contrast from the recent rhetoric from some GOP politicians, as Paul's reelection campaign has focused attacks on his Democratic opponent for allegedly wanting to "defund the police," while Cameron recently tweeted that "as Governor, I will always Back the Blue!"
Russell Coleman — a Republican who is running for attorney general of Kentucky next year with the support of McConnell — was recently in a leadership role with such federal law enforcement agencies, having served as U.S. Attorney for Kentucky's Western District during the Trump administration.
Asked for his reaction to the FBI search and Republican criticism of the agency, Coleman in a statement to The Courier Journal called for transparency from the agency for the sake of its "reputation."
“At a time when this country needs its FBI laser focused on protecting us from historic levels of violent crime and overdose deaths, the reputation of one of our critical institutions calls for near-term public transparency as to why it took such jaw dropping action against a former President of the United States," Coleman stated. “The reality is half the country will look on this with a jaundiced eye and transparency would help reassure the American people.
Coleman added: "All we know is there’s a dispute over paperwork, which to many Americans would make a raid seem like politically motivated overkill.”
Rep. James Comer
Rep. James Comer, the top GOP official on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, tweeted Wednesday that "the weaponization of the federal government against President Biden’s political rivals cannot go unchecked," all while he has signaled his committee will aggressively investigate the president's son, Hunter Biden, if Republicans take back the majority in the fall elections..
Beyond the Justice Department's investigation of White House records, including some marked classified, that were taken to Mar-a-Lago, there are at least four other separate investigations related to Trump being conducted by federal, state and local agencies, including:
The Justice Department's investigation into the effort to overturn the 2020 election and keep Trump in the White House, including attempts to substitute fake electors in key battleground states won by Joe Biden and to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Biden's victory.
An investigation by the Fulton County District Attorney into alleged election interference by Trump in Georgia, who is accused of trying to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to switch votes in his favor.
The New York attorney general is conducting a civil investigating into whether the Trump Organization made false property valuations in its dealings with lenders and taxing authorities, while the Manhattan district attorney's office conducts a parallel criminal investigation. Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment during his under oath deposition by the attorney general Wednesday.
The United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is investigating the events before the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in 2021, including Trump's role in instigating the attacking mob.
Thursday morning, an armed man in body armor who attempted to breach security at Cincinnati FBI office was shot and killed after a standoff.
A USA Today review of online postings by an account in the name of the attacker on Trump's Truth Social site shows the account had recently posted angry reactions to news of the FBI raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago Florida home — even posting during the attack.
"Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn't. If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it'll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while"
The post apparently ended mid-sentence.
FBI Director Christopher Wray defended the bureau Thursday against a new wave of threats in the aftermath of Mar-a-Lago search and attempted breach of its Cincinnati office.
“Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others,” Wray said..
Reach reporter Joe Sonka at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @joesonka.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky GOP officials weigh in on FBI raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago