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Political rancor continues over Trump search

By HENG WEILI in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-08-15 10:03

Former US president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort is seen in Palm Beach, Florida, US, Feb 8, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The political fallout from the FBI search of former US president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort continued on Sunday with Republicans calling for the release of more details while two federal agencies warned of increased threats against authorities.

Republicans stepped up calls for the release of an FBI affidavit showing the justification for seizure of the documents.

"I think releasing the affidavit would help, at least that would confirm that there was justification for this raid," Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.

Trump posted on his Truth Social platform asking that some documents that the FBI allegedly took be returned: "Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged 'attorney-client' material, and also 'executive' privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken. By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!"

FBI agents removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked top secret and meant to be only available in certain government facilities, according to a search warrant released by a Florida court Friday, The Wall Street Journal first reported.

CBS News reported Sunday that it had obtained a joint Federal Bureau of Investigation/Department of Homeland Security memo referencing online threats in light of the Mar-a-Lago search.

"The FBI and DHS have observed an increase in threats to federal law enforcement and, to a lesser extent, other law enforcement and government officials following the FBI's recent execution of a search warrant in Palm Beach, Florida," the bulletin reads. "These threats are occurring primarily online and across multiple platforms, including social media sites, web forums, video sharing platforms, and image boards.

The bulletin cited a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters and issuing general calls for "civil war" and "armed rebellion".

"Since 8 August 2022, the FBI and DHS have identified multiple articulated threats and calls for the targeted killing of judicial, law enforcement, and government officials associated with the Palm Beach search, including the federal judge who approved the Palm Beach search warrant.

"The FBI and DHS have also observed the personal identifying information of possible targets of violence, such as home addresses and identification of family members, disseminated online as additional targets," the report said.

Trump, his allies, some Republicans in Congress and many conservative pundits have responded with anger directed at the FBI and officials involved in the investigation of Trump. They also have sent messages to their supporters claiming that the FBI would target them next.

Others are calling for its defunding, and some accused the agency of being politically motivated.

In addition to ongoing protests in Palm Beach, Florida, and at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, armed supporters protested outside the FBI office in Phoenix on Saturday, Fox 10 Phoenix reported.

The supporters wore caps, glasses and face coverings and held up signs reading "Honor your oath" and "Abolish FBI".

In a statement, the FBI said it did not intervene or act against the group because those involved were "peacefully exercising First Amendment rights".

In St. Louis on Sunday, about two dozen protesters showed up outside the FBI field office, holding a banner that read, "Defund the FBI", the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

US Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican and a former FBI agent, told CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday that "in my few short years in Congress, I've seen undermining of all three branches of government lead to threats of violence and acts of violence, starting with the attack on my fellow baseball team members on the baseball field, to threats to Supreme Court justices, to threats to law enforcement, both local and during the unrest in the summer of 2020. And now to federal law enforcement. All of it's unacceptable."

Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan quoted statements from Trump, including that "the FBI has a long and unrelenting history of being corrupt". And that it is a "criminal RICO enterprise whose cover sources and methods include criminal acts".

"His campaign is fundraising off of this and has referred to an army of agents from the FBI breaking into his home and said that he hopes they're not planting evidence," Brennan said. "Is he putting a target on the back of these FBI agents?"

Fitzpatrick replied: "I checked in with several of my colleagues in the past few days, Margaret, to make sure they were OK. Every single elected official, every single leader needs to mind the weight of their words."

"We need to pull back on casting judgment on them (the FBI)," Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.

"If you want to hold people accountable, it is the Department of Justice. It is the attorney general who said he supervised that. The FBI is simply carrying out their responsibilities under the law," he said.

The FBI/DHS bulletin also mentioned that the upcoming congressional midterm elections in November could be motivating some of the threats.

"The threats we have observed, to date, underscore that DVEs (domestic violence extremists) may view the 2022 midterm election as an additional flashpoint around which to escalate threats against perceived ideological opponents, including federal law enforcement personnel," the joint report said.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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