GOP senator calls fellow Republicans ‘stupid’ for trying to defund the FBI

Far-right has embraced calls for removal of career FBI, DoJ officials and budget cuts after Trump prosecutions

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 17 September 2023 22:06 BST
Donald Trump arrested for fourth time

A Republican senator condemned members of his party making “stupid” comments about the FBI and Department of Justice in response to the agencies’ prosecutions of Donald Trump.

Chuck Grassley of Iowa was speaking with a local PBS station on Friday when he was asked about Republicans in his party, including presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy, who have staked out various extreme positions against federal law enforcement agencies as they carry on a naked effort to court supporters of Donald Trump. The former president currently faces numerous criminal charges stemming from four federal and state-level cases.

Mr Ramaswamy has taken perhaps the most extreme position: Support for eliminating the FBI entirely.

“Anybody that takes that position is stupid for saying it. We've got to have an FBI. And secondly, as Republicans, because you made a good point about Republicans saying this, for the last three or four years, we've been making fun of the Democrats wanting to defund the police. It's the same thing. You can't defund, we don't want to defund the police,” said Mr Grassley. “You can't defund the FBI.”

The senator’s comments exposed some of the deep fractions that remain within the Republican Party between its establishment leadership in Washington and a faction of burn-it-to-the-ground Trump loyalists who have taken to supporting the total destruction of any persons or legal authorities that dare to challenge the former president.

The footprint of that loyalist faction is growing in Washington DC, and now largely controls the GOP caucus within the House of Representatives. In that chamber, members have weaponised the Judiciary Committee against the FBI and two local prosecutors who have filed charges against the ex-president. Their efforts have so far been unsuccessful in delaying or damaging the prosecutions of their ally.

On the national Republican primary stage, a unique dynamic is playing out as a number of candidates have taken to vowing to “clean house” at the DoJ and FBI should they be elected, while disputing the strength of the evidence against the former president set to be used in his multiple upcoming trials.

They are opposed by two other candidates — Arkansas’ Asa Hutchinson and New Jersey’s Chris Christie — who have said that Mr Trump should not serve again in any form, and committed serious violations of his oath of office by attempting to change the results of the 2020 election and allowing a mob of his own supporters to attack the Capitol.

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