Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, defended the FBI on Sunday as other members of his party sharply criticized the federal law enforcement agency following Monday’s raid on the Mar-a-Lago residence of former President Donald Trump.
The FBI, with the approval of Attorney General Merrick Garland, raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago vacation home, looking for top-secret and sensitive compartmented information and other classified documents. . Trump and his allies have condemned the raid, with the ex-president calling it a “hoax” and an ongoing “witch hunt” targeting him.
According to court documents released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the warrant authorizing the search, federal agents seized classified documents from the property. The documents also show that the ex-president is being investigated for a possible violation of the Espionage Act.
Hutchinson’s defense of the FBI came during an interview on CNN State of the Union. Before talking about the Republicans’ attacks on the office, host Brianna Keilar released footage of other Republican officials criticizing the raid this week. These included comments from New York Representative Elise Stefanik and Florida Senator Rick Scott.
“The FBI’s raid on President Trump is a complete abuse and excess of his authority,” Stefanik said at a news conference on Friday.
“The way our federal government has done it is like what we thought of the Gestapo, people like that, that they just go after people,” Scott said on Fox Business Tuesday.
After viewing the footage, Keilar asked the governor, “Are Trump and some Republicans endangering the lives of FBI men and women?”
“Well, if the GOP is going to be the party that supports law enforcement, law enforcement includes the FBI,” Hutchinson replied, and added that federal law enforcement officials “do extraordinarily heroic efforts to uphold our rule of law, which is fundamental to the Republican Party and to our democracy.The FBI is part of that.
The governor went on to say that the FBI is “simply fulfilling its responsibilities under the law, a legal search warrant that a magistrate has signed.”
“And they didn’t go there with FBI raid vests, they tried to limit their behavior by carrying out this warrant. So let’s support law enforcement, let’s support them. Whether it’s the DEA, the FBI or your local police. It’s extremely important that we do this because they’re just trying to do their job and drive lawlessness out of our country,” Hutchinson continued.
In a Monday statement, Trump called the raid “neither necessary nor appropriate” and said his home was “besieged, raided and occupied.” He called the law enforcement action a “militarization of the justice system”, and later said the FBI could have filed evidence.
CNN also reported Friday that the FBI is investigating an “unprecedented” number of threats against its personnel following the raid.
Newsweek contacted Trump’s press office for comment.