In the aftermath of the search that took place at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home the previous week, certain members of the Republican Party, including some elected officials, have called for “defunding the FBI.” The White House has issued a strong condemnation of these efforts.
The pushback is the most robust reaction that the White House has given to the FBI’s search so far. It comes at a time when other Republicans are sounding alarms.
“Just like President Biden rejects defunding the police, he rejects defunding other law enforcement, including the FBI,” Andrew Bates, the White House deputy press secretary, said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday.
“The President has called for boosting police funding through the COPS program and hiring 100,000 additional officers. He also included over $10.8 billion for the FBI in his most recent budget. The men and women who bravely serve in law enforcement to keep all of us safe deserve the resources and support that they need to do their jobs – not seeing their budgets slashed,” he said.
In an interview that aired on Wednesday on CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain called the idea of defunding the FBI “a reckless and irresponsible idea.”
These words come at a time when demands from Republicans to defund the FBI have increased significantly over the last week, indicating that Trump has a firm grasp on his party.
Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have all shared the message on their own social media pages. Greene is also selling caps and T-shirts with the slogan for the price of $30 apiece.
It is quite similar to a strategy that was used by some progressive Democrats for defunding the police force as a means of protesting police brutality during the time when the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining traction on a national level. Biden has constantly distanced himself from that position, and he has reaffirmed his support for law enforcement both when he was campaigning and after he has been in office.
“We Republicans had pushed back very successfully, and had a very strong message against Democrats on a lot of issues. But Democrats pushing a defund the police message was something that was really, palpably strong for Republicans. And now because of a few Republicans — not all, but enough of them — who have said defund, destroy, and other things like that, they have allowed Democrats to really get up off the mat on this and have some momentum,” said former Director of Republican National Committee communications, Doug Heye.
Other Republicans have expressed similar reservations about the message, expressing concern that it might cause confusion among voters in the run-up to the midterm elections coming from a party that has always positioned itself as being supportive of law enforcement.
“I just want to remind my fellow Republicans, we can hold the AG accountable for the decision he made without attacking rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI,” said former Vice President Mike Pence.
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order. Our party stands with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level and these attacks on the FBI must stop. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police,” Pence added.
“I’m impressed Democrats finally got us to say, ‘Defund the FBI.’ That makes you look unserious when you start talking like that.”
On Tuesday, an association that is composed of thousands of former FBI special agents issued a statement in which they condemned assaults on the FBI and demanded that the leadership of the government reject such actions.
“Unfounded and reckless attacks on the men and women of the FBI as they pursue [their] mission is both dangerous and unacceptable,” they said in a statement. “Recent threats to FBI personnel and facilities only serve to increase the potential for violence and must be denounced by this nation’s leaders.”
Klain told CNN that “everyone should be concerned about the possibility of violence, about the threats against law enforcement.”
“The President’s made it very clear that threats of political violence have no place in our country. They had no place in our country on January 6, they have no place in our country, every day since then, they have no place in our country if they’re directed against law enforcement at any time. So [Biden’s] position on political violence is very clear, and we are certainly not for defunding the FBI,” he said.