DeSantis responds to Trump indictment with calls for FBI and DOJ ‘accountability’

Ron DeSantis
The White House heartily criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday for his ongoing “political stunts” involving migrants but would not say if his actions break the law, as some Democratic lawmakers have alleged. Artie Walker Jr./AP

DeSantis responds to Trump indictment with calls for FBI and DOJ ‘accountability’

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Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) may have a new strategy when dealing with the news-dominating spectacle of former President Donald Trump‘s indictment over accusations he mishandled classified documents after avoiding the topic in recent days.

DeSantis was asked about Trump’s latest 37-count indictment at a news conference on Thursday in which he signed Florida’s state record of a $117 billion budget. He pivoted to attacking the Department of Justice and the FBI for unfairly handling investigations pertaining to Democrats.

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“My mission is to bring accountability to politicized agencies like DOJ, FBI. We’re going to excise the political bias. And we are going to end the weaponization of the federal government,” DeSantis said during his Fort Pierce, Florida, appearance.

The governor lambasted the federal agencies for wielding “power unevenly,” referencing the legal problems that Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden‘s son, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have faced. “If Hunter were a Republican, he would have been in jail a long time ago,” DeSantis argued about investigations surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop.

On Clinton, DeSantis was equally contemptuous. “I remember as a member of Congress how they handled Hillary’s classified information, and I can tell you it was not a rigorous investigation,” he said about Clinton hosting classified emails on a private server.

DeSantis, a 2024 presidential candidate, also argued that if he becomes president, he will reform these agencies. “You know, with me, you don’t have to worry about it. You have a new FBI director on day one,” he said. “You have a house cleaning on day one in these agencies, and we will use our full Article 2 powers to ensure that the weaponization of government in this country ends.”

Most notable during DeSantis’s comments is that he neither mentioned Trump by name nor did he reference the allegations of the indictment, including that Trump obstructed justice and made false statements, along with improperly holding on to sensitive national security documents, a violation of the Espionage Act.

The governor has a delicate balance to maintain, as he seeks to unseat Trump as the front-runner in the Republican presidential race without alienating Trump’s supporters, to become the next GOP standard-bearer.

DeSantis made similar attacks against the FBI and DOJ when Trump announced he was being indicted last week. But in the wake of the contents of the indictment, DeSantis largely remained quiet. The closest DeSantis came to criticizing Trump was a very subtle comment he made at a GOP gathering in North Carolina. “If I would have taken classified [documents] to my apartment, I would have been court-martialed in a New York minute.”

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Now, it appears DeSantis’s strategy for handling Trump’s legal problems is simply not discussing him and focusing on the “weaponization” of the federal government. His allies also appear to be following his lead, with his super PAC, Never Back Down, not addressing Trump in a political ad released on Thursday. But how effective it will be remains to be seen. Recent polling shows Trump has not lost significant Republican support since the indictment news broke.

The former president pleaded not guilty to all the charges in a Miami courthouse on Tuesday. He later declared among a crowd of supporters he would go on to win the presidency in 2024. “When I’m reelected, and we will get reelected — we have no choice; we’re not going to have a country anymore — I will totally obliterate the deep state,” Trump said.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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