US Rep. Mike Turner speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Friday. On the right is US Rep. Elise Stefanik.
Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, urged at a news conference on Friday that Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray explain “the imminent national security threat upon which they based their decision” to search former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and for more information regarding an informant that reportedly helped the FBI.
“There were many other options available to them,” Turner said. “We believe that after the release today that these questions will still remain unanswered.”
Turner praised Garland for requesting that the search warrant and property receipt from the search be unsealed, but he criticized the FBI’s “method” in searching the former president’s Florida home.
“We’re very concerned of the method that was used in raiding Mar-a-Largo in the nine hours that transpired while they were in the former president’s home,” said Turner. “We are glad that Attorney General Garland has begun the process of releasing some of the information to the American public.”
“But it will still leave many unanswered questions,” he added.
Turner said the Republicans would send a letter to Wray today asking about an informant who reportedly gave a tip to investigators about the possibility of additional classified documents at the Palm Beach club.
“We are also very concerned about the disturbing reports that there was an informant, perhaps somebody even undercover, at Mar-a-Lago or around former President Donald Trump,” said Turner. “What is the relationship between the FBI and the person that has reportedly been utilized in this process?”
Other Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee portrayed the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as the latest in a string of actions by the Justice Department targeting Trump and protecting Democrats.
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of GOP leadership, called the Monday search “a complete abuse and overreach of its authority.”
“As the American people know, unfortunately, this is the same agency leadership that protected Hillary Clinton, James Comey and continues to protect Hunter Biden. The same agency leadership that perpetrated the false Russia hoax for years,” she claimed.
In response to a question from CNN’s Daniella Diaz, Turner separated himself from Trump supporters calling to “defund the FBI.”
“We support our men and women in uniform who are in law enforcement,” said Turner. “And we request that anybody who’s made outrageous statements like that that you question them and not us.”
Asked if there’s a situation that would warrant the FBI searching Trump’s home, Turner said, “it would be very, very narrow of anything that just has the umbrella of nuclear weapons in it, that would rise to the level of an immediate national security threat.”
When pressed, Turner added, “There are a number of things that they could show us, and I don’t want to speculate on what those would be, that would obviously rise to the level of maybe you didn’t have any options. But I’d be very, very, very surprised as to what those are considering the breadth of what they could have done besides this, including going to court, trying to enforce the subpoena, demanding that the documents be produced in court.”
“It would be highly unusual for a President to have anything even in the Oval Office that rises to the level of imminent necessary threat,” he added.
Utah GOP Rep. Chris Stewart said the American people would wonder if the search was political in nature until the Justice Department released more information, pushing back on questions on whether it would be appropriate for the FBI to seize highly classified documents, even those related to nuclear weapons.
“I think it’s naive to assume that the American people would not wonder if it’s political. Of course they’re going to wonder that. Look what’s happened over the last five years. And look at the premise of most of your questions,” said Stewart.
“‘Was it nuclear?’ Hey, heck maybe it was aliens,” he added. “That’s the point. We don’t know. We’re asking them to tell us. And until they tell us, then we’re going to have questions like this. And the presumption is going to be that it is political. There’s a way to de-politicize this. Give us the information.”
In addition, GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters while entering the House chamber he believes Garland and Wray should address the search of Mar-a-Lago with lawmakers.
“Merrick Garland and Chris Wray should be in front of us today, we’re all here. The Republicans on the Judiciary committee are here, why don’t they come talk to us today?” Jordan said.