Iowa Republican leaders line up behind Trump after FBI raid: ‘We’ve got a right 2b skeptical’

Sen. Chuck Grassley, President Trump and Sen. Joni Ernst pose for a photo after the 2020 State of the Union address. — via Joni Ernst on Twitter

Iowa’s leading Republicans once again followed Donald Trump’s lead and used social media on Tuesday to suggest corruption led to FBI agents executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property on Monday. Not corruption on Trump’s part, of course. Iowa GOP leaders have consistently ignored or avoided acting on evidence of Trump’s corruption, whether personal, professional or political. Instead, they suggested the search of Mar-a-Lago and seizure of documents was the result of the corruption of federal law enforcement agents.

Trump was the one who announced to the world that his residence/country club in Palm Beach, Florida had been searched. Neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice made any public statement, and there were no leaks to the media about it.

The search appears to be part of the investigation into the former president taking classified documents to his private home instead of following federal law and turning them over to the National Archives.

Many national Republicans, as well as Fox News, began denouncing the DOJ and the FBI almost as soon as Trump issued a statement on Monday evening saying the Florida country club was “currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” and complaining “they even broke into my safe!”

Iowa Republican leaders began commenting on Tuesday morning.

The Iowa Republican Party tweeted out a blunt claim, unsupported by any evidence, that “Democrats are using the Department of Justice to go after their political opponents.” Like other Trump supporters, the Iowa GOP ignored the fact that a federal judge would have had to approve the search warrant.

The party’s official Twitter account then immediately moved on to stroking fears that IRS agents will now be “coming after Iowans and the middle class!”

While the party confined itself to one tweet, Gov. Kim Reynolds needed two to get her reaction across.

In her first tweet, Reynolds denounced the Biden administration, claiming it is “taking our nation down a dangerous path, unleashing the DOJ and FBI on parents, taxpayers, gun owners, and now on President Trump himself.” Reynolds’ second tweet contained the governor’s standard list of complaints about the administration, including inflation and “the border crisis” which she also routinely included in most statements about the administration, such as those complaining about Biden’s COVID-19 policies.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks was briefer, but also invoked the border. Miller-Meeks added the specter of urban crime, while avoiding any mention of ongoing criminal investigations involving Trump. The first-term representative is the only Republican in Iowa’s congressional delegation who hasn’t been endorsed by Trump for reelection. That’s likely because Miller-Meeks was one of just 35 Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote in favor of creating the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

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Miller-Meeks has said many times she’s a loyal Trump supporter, and during a Q&A at Urbandale’s Westside Conservatives Club last year, she claimed she voted for the Jan. 6 Committee to help Trump.

“I think it’s important to establish the timeline,” Miller-Meeks explained. “And the timeline is something that could help President Trump. I did not vote to impeach President Trump, because constitutionally I felt that he had protected free speech under the Constitution. It did not rise to the level of inciting violence.”

Miller-Meeks and Reynolds were the only elected Republican officials who used their campaign Twitter accounts to comment. Rep. Ashley Hinson, Rep. Randy Feenstra, Sen. Joni Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley all used their official accounts to try to undermine public confidence in the FBI’s actions.

Hinson and Feenstra demanded the FBI “immediately explain their justification for this unprecedented raid,” as Hinson phrased it. Both know that FBI and DOJ have policies that prohibit them from commenting on ongoing investigations. Both also presumably know that Trump would have been provided with a copy of the search warrant, explaining exactly what a judge said agents could search for and seize. Trump could release that information anytime he pleases. Neither Hinson or Feenstra mentioned either of those facts.

Feenstra denounced the use of a search warrant as “an unprecedented escalation of the use of law enforcement against a former President.” Hinson suggested it was a reason to vote for Republican candidates in November: “A Republican majority will provide rigorous oversight of the Biden Administration and ensure they are serving the American people, not targeting them.”

Sen. Joni Ernst’s reaction on Twitter was fervent, but unoriginal. Ernst’s tweet closely resembled a tweet posted three hours earlier by Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor of Virginia.

Ernst’s line about “parents as terrorists” refers to a false claim that the DOJ was spying on conservative parents who attended school board meetings, when the department was actually collecting information about violent threats made against school board members around the country, after conservative politicians whipped up anger over COVID-19 precautions in schools. The claim that homes of Supreme Court justices were left undefended is also false, relying on deliberate distortions about protests held near the homes of some justices in response to the court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Radio Iowa reported that Ernst was asked on Tuesday afternoon about the search of Mar-a-Lago.

“It doesn’t seem right and it just doesn’t seem to be on the up and up,” she replied.

Chuck Grassley, who is currently in a close race for reelection as he seeks his eighth term in the Senate, had the most restrained reaction of any of Iowa’s Republican leaders. The senior senator tweeted that because of previous accusations “abt political bias in investigations… we’ve got a right 2b skeptical.”

Since 2017, Grassley has regularly claimed the FBI had no legitimate reason to investigate contacts between members of Trump’s first presidential campaign and agents working on behalf of Russia. More recently he has pushed the idea that the DOJ is refusing to investigate President Biden’s son for political reasons.

Grassley’s opponent in the Senate, Democrat Mike Franken, tweeted a more straightforward reaction that he posted shortly after news of the FBI search broke on Monday night.