Congressional lawmakers are reacting to news that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will indict President Donald Trump over alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Trump said on June 8 that his attorneys were informed of the indictment by DOJ special counsel Jack Smith in connection to the investigation into the handling of classified documents. Trump is the first former U.S. president in history to face criminal action at the federal level. The announcement followed a raid by the FBI last year of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate that allegedly discovered several classified documents in the president's possession.
“The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social. He went on to point to the parallel investigation of President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents.
Lawmaker reactions to the news are splitting largely along party lines, with Republicans describing it as a "witch hunt" that poses a "profound danger" to American political norms, while Democrats say it shows that "nobody is above the law."
"It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades," wrote House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Twitter.
"I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable."
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) connected the development to Republicans' broader concerns about the ways the DOJ and FBI have used their power under Biden.
Other Republicans raised the prospect of abolishing the FBI and DOJ altogether.
"#BananaRepublic," Collins added.
'Nobody Is Above the Law': Democrats ReactDemocrats, on the other hand, suggested that the indictment shows that the American justice system is working.
Reps. Gerry Connelly (D-Va.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), and Adriana Espaillat (D-N.Y.) repeated a common Democrat refrain on matters related to Trump, saying that "no one is above the law."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called the indictment an "affirmation of the rule of law."
"Trump’s apparent indictment on multiple charges arising from his retention of classified materials is another affirmation of the rule of law," Schiff wrote.
"For four years, he acted like he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today, he has been."
Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) said the indictment was the latest instance of what he called "the chaos of Trump."
Others compared Trump unflatteringly to President Richard Nixon, who did not face federal indictment over the Watergate scandal in part due to a blanket pardon from his successor, President Gerald Ford. However Nixon, a lifelong politician, was forced to resign and retreat from public life over the allegations.
Timing Raises EyebrowsMany Republicans raised questions about the timing of the indictment.
It came the same day that FBI Director Christopher Wray acceded to a GOP demand to share a document alleging that Biden took a foreign bribe while vice president. Specifically, Biden is accused of taking $5 million to help get Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin—who was investigating the energy firm Burisma, to which the president's son Hunter Biden has connections—fired.
Greene said on Twitter that the document, which she observed on June 8 as part of Wray's deal with Republicans, comes from "the FBI’s most trusted credible informant." If the charges prove true, they could be a precursor to further legal action by House Republicans.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said that he believes the two are connected.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has worked closely with his House analog about the bribery allegations against Biden, echoed the sentiment.