Shortly after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s call for an investigation into Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice resonated with MAGA devotees across the United States.
“Attorney General Garland”, he wrote on Twitter On August 8, “keep your documents and clean your calendar”.
Almost all of California’s House GOP incumbents quickly lined up behind McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. If the party takes control of the chamber in November, an extensive congressional investigation is almost inevitable.
Republican candidates for Congress now have a choice: tie their future to Trump or keep their distance and risk the wrath of the would-be next president and his supporters. They showed different approaches to the issue.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, running against Democrat Kermit Jones for the Third Congressional District seat, immediately followed McCarthy’s pledge – first in a post on his website and again in an interview.
âObviously, we still have a lot to learn about what happened and what prompted [the raid]said Kiley last week.
The FBI, acting under a court-approved search warrant, recovered numerous top-secret documents and placed Trump in possible violation of the Espionage Act.
But Kiley said the department’s actions appear “politically motivated.”
“I think it will be up to the next Congress and really, it should be up to this Congress as well, to figure out what’s going on and why we have this unprecedented level of politicization that has happened under the watch of Merrick Garland.
Kiley won Trump’s endorsement last May in the primary election. He called on the legislator the antithesis of the “do-nothing RINOs (Republicans in name only) who watched California be utterly destroyed by Sacramento’s radical maniacs”. Kiley has yet to say whether or not he thinks President Joe Biden was “legitimately” elected.
Tom Patti, GOP candidate for the 9th congressional district seat (which includes Stockton and Tracy) against Democrat Josh Harder, had a different response. He is “not a Trumpster” and, if elected, he will not take office considering an investigation a certainty.
The San Joaquin County supervisor, businessman and former boxing trainer of Mike Tyson said he would not seek a fight with the DOJ for the sake of “getting back to it”.
“I wouldn’t see this as an opportunity for recovery or a time to get back to [the Justice Department],â he said. If there was evidence of wrongdoing, however, he would want to hold the Justice Department accountable.
California Republicans Respond to FBI Search
McCarthy’s threat was echoed by a chorus of MAGA conservatives across the state – many of which fomented the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden did not win the 2020 presidential election. Representative Doug LaMalfa in a Facebook post from August 10 called the raid a “gross abuse of power by the FBI and dangerous to the basic liberties of all Americans” and “another in a long line of attacks on political opposition to the Democratic takeover [sic] agenda.”
Representative Tom McClintock said the FBI action was politically motivated.
“The raid on a former president over a record dispute opens a disturbing new era in which the FBI and DOJ have lost the trust of the American people,” the Elk Grove Republican said. wrote on Twitter.
In Southern California, Trump-endorsed Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, vowed to âroot out the rot that has crept inthe Justice Department and the FBI if he retains his seat in November. Representative Connie Conway, who is not running this fall, said that there is a “double standard” in the FBI’s treatment of Trump and prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden. Conway replaced Devin Nunes in District 22 in June when Nunes left to be CEO of Trump’s media company.
Further south of the Capitol, two candidates running in the Central Valley were less franc. John Duarte, a first-time candidate in the new 13th congressional district, and Rep. David Valadao both remained focused on issues like water and the state’s worsening drought.
But Duarte, a farmer and businessman in a close race against Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray, is particularly wary of Justice Department excesses and has called Mar-A-Lago’s research a “circus “.
Duarte was embroiled in a years-long legal battle with the Justice Department when the US Army Corps of Engineers sued him for violating the Clean Water Act in 2013. Duarte said he was unfairly punished for ‘planting wheat in a wheat field’, while the Justice Department convicted him of ‘deep tearing’ streams and wetlands from its 450 acres in Tehama County without a permit. He agreed to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties and mitigation.
“As someone wrongfully prosecuted by this same agency, I think it’s incumbent on the Department of Justice to have full transparency about what they were looking for and what they found. [at Mar-A-Lago]”, he said in a statement last week.
âIt is imperative that people know why they believed this type of circus was necessary and if not, they must be put down. If it can happen to a president, it can happen to him.
Valadao, however, remained silent on calls to investigate the Justice Department.
Dairy farmer from Hanford, Valadao voted against the grain to impeach Trump in 2021 after the Jan. 6 uprising. It cost him support, he recognized last summerbut he still won the primary when his two Trumper opponents split vote. Of the ten House GOP members who voted for impeachment, he is one of only two to participate in the November ballot.
In a slated race against Assemblyman Rudy Salas, Valadao’s approach sticks to issues specific to the Central Valley. He could not be reached for comment for this story.
This story was originally published August 22, 2022 5:00 a.m.