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FBI raid of Trump’s estate prompts Republican anger and 2024 speculation | Mar-a-Lago

Shockwaves spread across America in response to the news that the FBI had searched the private Florida residence of Donald Trump in an “unprecedented” move that prompted threats of retaliation from the former US president and his allies.

It also brought calls for accountability from his opponents and inspired speculation about what it could mean for Trump’s plans to run again in 2024, as some suggested it may prompt him to announce a candidacy before vital midterm elections in November.

The court-authorized raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate appeared to be related to a long-running investigation into whether he mishandled classified government documents when he left the White House.

In the hours after Trump announced that his “beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents”, top Republicans leaders rallied to his defense as America’s already divided politics roiled with reaction to the raid.

Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, threatened to investigate the justice department if his party wins control of the chamber next year, which forecasts suggest is highly probable.

“I’ve seen enough,” the California Republican wrote in a statement that he posted online. “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.”

He went further, hinting that should he wield the gavel next year, House Republicans would open a congressional investigation into the attorney general, Merrick Garland. “Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar,” he wrote.

Democrats, who have pushed the department to bring criminal charges against the former president for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, welcomed the raid.

“It is a horrible precedent for the Department of Justice to investigate a former president of the United States,” said congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California who was a manager during Trump’s second impeachment trial. “The only worse precedent would be for @TheJusticeDept not to investigate because the person happens to be a former President. No one is above the law.”

Democrats also accused Republicans of hypocrisy after years of calling for the prosecution of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 rival, over questions of whether she mishandled classified information by using a private email server. Trump sought to exploit the investigation and encouraged chants of “lock her up” during campaign rallies.

Referring to McCarthy, Congressman Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, said: “This man and his fellow bootlickers hid under a rock rather than respond every time Donald Trump called for persecution, investigation, imprisonment or violence against his political opponents.

“These same people talk about Trump like he’s above the law. He’s not above the law.”

In an interview on Fox News on Monday night, Trump’s son, Eric Trump, said that the search happened because “the National Archives wanted to corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession”.

Lashing out at the FBI, the younger Trump said he believed the raid was an attempt to prevent his father from running again in 2024.

“Honestly, I hope – and I’m saying this for the first time – I hope he goes out and beats these guys again because honestly, this country can’t survive this nonsense,” he said. “It can’t.”

Trump is widely believed to be pursuing a presidential run in 2024, and many speculated that the raid would benefit him politically. Some suggested that it would fuel his supporters’ suspicion of federal law enforcement officials, whom Trump and his allies have long disparaged as corrupt and biased. But it also served to rally his allies and potential 2024 Republican rivals to his side.

Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor viewed as a possible contender in 2024, said the search of Trump’s beachside property was “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents”.

Insinuations by Republicans that Biden was behind the raid appear baseless. The White House has said it was unaware of the search before it happened. And as president, Biden has vowed to restore the independence of the justice department after years of Trump’s efforts to pressure his attorneys general to advance his political agenda.

As news of the Mar-a-Lago search reverberated across the country, a crowd swelled outside Trump’s upmarket Florida resort, where supporters waved American flags and some showcased campaign signs with Mike Pence’s name crossed out.

Online, far-right Trump supporters raged against the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. In the hours after the disclosure, references to “civil war” spiked on Twitter while Maga and QAnon forums lit up with violent rhetoric and threats of civil unrest, alarmingly similar, analysts and reporters said, to the kind of activity observed on these platforms in the lead up to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The top comment ​​on a pro-Trump message board was: “Lock and load.”

Trump, who was in New York during the search, sought to capitalize on his supporters’ fury with a round of fundraising appeals that made reference to the raid. “Please rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY,” he wrote in one such email.

He briefly addressed the raid during a tele-rally for the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who is running for Congress.

“Another day in paradise,” Trump told supporters on Monday night. “This is a strange day. You probably all read about it, but very important.”

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