Some of the angriest reactions to the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida are coming from ex-politicians and lawmakers who know a thing or two about being investigated by the FBI.
There are the predictable reactions, like that of Trump ally and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who’s been under investigation in connection with alleged sex trafficking of a minor since before Joe Biden was even president. But a pair of Democratic ex-governors joined the chorus of mostly Republicans denouncing the Justice Department’s raid of Trump’s home, which appears to be connected to an investigation into classified documents taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago before he left office.
Trump himself confirmed the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in a long Monday statement saying his home is “currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” He described the raid as politically motivated, a sentiment that was immediately echoed by his supporters on the far-right and right-wing allies in Congress.
Gaetz, for one, tweeted repeatedly about the raid. “So interesting that this happens right as we are exposing undeniable criminal corruption by Hunter Biden,” Gaetz said in a tweet quoting Trump’s statement. “Weird.”
Gaetz also tweeted, “I stand with President Trump!” and retweeted a video of Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina saying the Justice Department “needs to be broken up and sent across the country.” On Tuesday, in response to a claim that the right-wing satire site The Babylon Bee had been removed from the Google Play app store, Gaetz said: “No former president is safe. No joke is safe. This is fascism.” (The Babylon Bee was back on the app store as of Tuesday morning. Also, “joke” is a generous description of what they publish.)
Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing in the investigation into sex trafficking, which reportedly began in the summer of 2020. A former Gaetz associate and local Republican elected official in Florida, Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty last year to sex trafficking a minor. Last month, Gaetz and 19 other Republicans voted against an anti-human trafficking bill, with Gaetz calling the bill “a backdoor loophole for illegal immigration and amnesty.”
But Trump got support from more unlikely sources as well. Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in disgrace last August over several complaints of sexual harassment but reportedly weighed a political comeback this year, tweeted Tuesday that the Justice Department “must immediately explain the reason for its raid.”
Cuomo’s reasoning, however, was that the raid distracts from the House committee investigating January 6, even though it’s not clear what—if anything—these investigations have to do with each other.
“It must be more than a search for inconsequential archives or it will be viewed as a political tactic and undermine any future credible investigation & legitimacy of January 6 investigations,” Cuomo said, adding in another tweet that “the republicans [sic] will use [the raid] to Discredit the Jan 6 investigation, which would be a terrible disservice to the good work of the house committee in exposing The Trump administration violations.”
During his more than ten years in office, the Cuomo administration was subject to multiple FBI investigations, including into whether or not his government concealed the true number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 and released false data to the Justice Department. The Cuomo administration’s “Buffalo Billion” development initiative was also investigated by the Justice Department, resulting in a bribery conviction for former aide and close friend Joseph Percoco.
In addition to Cuomo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tweeted Tuesday that after hearing about the Mar-a-Lago search, he hasn’t “been this shocked since the FBI came to my home at 6 am to arrest me.”
“Targeting political leaders by a weaponized and politicized DOJ is a criminal attack on our democracy. A tragic day for ALL Americans,” Blagojevich said.
Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for a host of corruption charges, including effectively trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was elected president. He served more than seven years in prison but was released after Trump granted a pardon in 2020.
Blagojevich, for his part, appears to be reminded of his legal ordeals a lot.
“Just finished a 7.5 mile run in 93 degree weather,” he tweeted this weekend along with a photo. “I haven’t sweated this much since my sentencing.”