GOP Leaders Decry FBI Search as Watergate
Weaponized with Orwell and Caesar Touch
August 9, 2022
Texas Republicans erupted in rage on Tuesday over a Federal Bureau of Investigation search of Donald Trump's home in Florida the night before - from Governor Greg Abbott's invoking of Watergate memories to a portrayal of President Joe Biden as a modern-day Julius Ceasar in a third-world nation with a coup under way.
Abbott branded the FBI action at Mar-a-Lago as "next-level Nixonian" while the Republican Party of Texas declared that Biden had "crossed the Rubicon" - a reference to a river in Italy that Ceasar led a legion of soldiers across in the year 49 BC in a move that the legendary Roman general characterized as a point of no return.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller triggered visions of big brother in the famous novel 1984. The Texas farm chief and the state GOP both took a page from the national party talking points with references to banana republics. The analogy is curious in light of the fact that the phrase banana republic generally refers to an attempted government overthrow that would be more in line with the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol than the execution of a search warrant at a former president's home.
Attorney General Ken Paxton, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Abbott and the Republican party organization all tweeted warnings on the federal government seeking to weaponize its powers against political enemies like Trump. The Republicans' host in Dallas last weekend - Conservative Political Action Conference Chairman Matt Schlapp - set the template for the response with a string of tweets on Monday night with banana republican and weaponize as key battle cries.
"Biden & AG Garland have co-opted the #FBI into a political outfit to benefit Dems & target anyone who speaks out against their radical agenda," Paxton said in a Twitter post on Tuesday. "They’re fully committed to weaponizing the DOJ to try anything to stop Donald Trump because they know he will hold them accountable."
Paxton - one of Trump's top Texas allies - depicted the search at the former president's winter residence in Palm Beach as a sign of more political persecutions to come. "Biden’s decision to wield the FBI against Trump is a brazen & ill-fated attempt to distract from his own failures," the state's top lawyer said in a separate tweet. "With his hiring of tens of thousands of IRS agents instead of border patrol, Americans can expect more investigations based on political views & affiliations."
State Rep. Jeff Leach - an Allen Republican who's one of the most influential lawmakers in Austin - argued on Twitter that the Mar-a-Lago search represented a dramatic break with White House tradition.
"Would Clinton do this to Bush? Bush to Clinton? Obama to Bush? Or Trump to Obama?," Leach asked. "No.
Because those men - for all their faults - were focused on governing.
Radicals today are obsessed with Trump & conservatives - running roughshod over our Constitution."
Leach failed to mention, however, that none of the former presidents in the social media reference had been suspected of removing classified documents - a criminal act that's punishable by a potential prison term of three years and disqualification from holding federal office if convicted.
18 U.S. Code § 2071
(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Top Trump Search Quotes
Governor Greg Abbott: "This is next-level Nixonian. Never before has the country seen an Administration go to such extent to use the levers of government to target a former President and political rival. This weaponizes power to squelch dissent. Such abuses must have limits."
Texas GOP: "Biden has crossed the Rubicon. If there was any doubt remaining, we are now living in a post constitutional America where the Justice Department has been weaponized against political threats to the regime, as it would in a banana republic. It won’t stop with Trump. You are next."
Attorney General Ken Paxton: "Biden’s decision to wield the FBI against Trump is a brazen & ill-fated attempt to distract from his own failures.
With his hiring of tens of thousands of IRS agents instead of border patrol, Americans can expect more investigations based on political views & affiliations."
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller: "The unprecedented 'Banana Republic' style raid on the home of a former President of the United States shows the Biden-Pelosi Democrat machine will stop at nothing to retain power at the national level. I have faith that the American people will see this for what it is: tge misuse of our federal government in a raw act of political power. I pray for our nation and pray for the Trump family as they must endure this 'Orwellian' act of injustice. Electing a Conservative majority in November is how we end this insanity.”