Trump says temperature ‘has to be brought down’ after FBI search, then repeats attacks
Former President Trump on Monday said his aides have reached out to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to offer “whatever we can do to help,” saying the “temperature has to be brought down” after a spike in threats against law enforcement following the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.
“Whatever we can do to help — because the temperature has to be brought down in the country,” Trump told Fox News. “If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”
At the same time that he talked about taking the temperature down, however, Trump repeated attacks on the FBI over the search for classified documents that took place at his Florida estate last week.
Trump defended his supporters’ attacks in the interview, saying they are “not going to stand for another scam” and describing the FBI’s past investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “witch hunt.”
“People are so angry at what is taking place,” he said.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago one week ago in connection with its investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act and other federal statutes. Agents seized 11 sets of classified documents from the estate, although Trump has claimed he declassified the material.
The search has set off waves of criticisms of the FBI and DOJ from Trump and his allies, who argue the investigation is politically motivated. Some have called to defund the agency.
A new intelligence bulletin reportedly warned of a spike in threats against federal law enforcement following the Mar-a-Lago search, referencing an incident on Thursday at the FBI’s Cincinnati field office in which an armed man tried to breach the building and later died in a standoff with law enforcement.
The Hill has requested comment from the DOJ.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that a person close to Trump reached out to a DOJ official to convey a message from the former president on Thursday.
“The country is on fire. What can I do to reduce the heat?” stated the message Trump wanted conveyed to the attorney general, the Times reported.
Trump told Fox News he has not yet heard back from the department on his offer for help but added he thinks “they would want the same thing.”
Yet the former president himself has been one of the most vocal critics of the FBI and DOJ since the search, repeatedly denouncing the investigation as being politically motivated and at times suggesting an unproven conspiracy that the FBI was planting evidence to hurt him.
Trump as recently as Sunday evening called the search “abuse in law enforcement” and a “sneak attack on democracy” on TruthSocial.
“There has never been a time like this where law enforcement has been used to break into the house of a former president of the United States, and there is tremendous anger in the country — at a level that has never been seen before, other than during very perilous times,” Trump told Fox News.
His allies have echoed that sentiment, but Trump’s offer to DOJ comes after Democrats and some Republicans called for Trump to tamp down his rhetoric amid the increased threat level.
Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Trump’s rhetoric “inflammatory” during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“I don’t want to put any law enforcement in the bull’s-eye of a potential threat,” McCaul said. “And that’s someone who’s worked with law enforcement most of my career.”
Despite declining to comment on the investigation itself, the White House has pushed back on notions that DOJ is making decisions for political gain.
“This is not about politicizing anything,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on ABC “This Week” on Sunday.
“That is not true at all,” she continued. “And I would remind our folks on the other side that the FBI director was appointed by the president’s predecessor.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday delivered remarks announcing he personally approved the search while similarly condemning attacks against DOJ and the FBI.
“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Garland said.
Updated: 11:35 a.m.