Former President Donald Trump was “very upbeat” in the wake of the FBI raid on his home, according to Republican lawmakers who met with him on Aug. 9.
About a dozen members of the Republican Study Committee, led by chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.), met with Trump over dinner at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, a day after the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago resort, which Trump and allies have characterized as an attempt from the left to keep the former president from taking the office again.
The raid was an inevitable topic during the roughly three hours they spent together, but it wasn’t a major focus, the lawmakers said. During the meeting, which was scheduled ahead of the raid, the former president appeared to be in a great mood. He made jokes and signed autographs on his trademark red hats. He talked to all the Republican members in the room and interacted with some of their staff members.
“I didn't see Donald Trump sweating at all last night. I didn't see him being concerned,” Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times on Aug. 10. Trump was “cordial,” “very upbeat,” and “very positive,” according to Nehls.
He and others saw the FBI's move as part of a continued campaign to attack and discredit the former president, who was “not moved by it.”
“Yes, the left is after him. But he's been dealing with these whack jobs for five years now. So this is nothing new to him. Donald Trump knows what he's done. And Donald Trump hasn't done anything wrong,” Nehls said.
‘4th Impeachment’The conversation was casual and relaxed with “fantastic food,” according to Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), who at one point shared with Trump some photos of “cute kids that are big Trump supporters” in her district.
While Trump “expressed his disregard for [Attorney General] Merrick Garland and the FBI,” he was upset that the agents went through Melania Trump’s wardrobe, according to Tenney. The consensus in the room was that “it was an abuse of power.”
Tenney dubbed the raid a “4th impeachment.”
“They tried twice to impeach him when he was in office. They had the Jan. 6 show trial that never ends. ... They will convene another meeting with a predetermined outcome, just like a Soviet-style event,” she told The Epoch Times. “And now, this is another attempt.”
The FBI raid is reportedly in connection with a Department of Justice (DOJ) probe into whether Trump took presidential records with him after he left office. But representatives of Trump have maintained that the former president had been cooperating with the National Archives and Records Administration on this matter. The DOJ and FBI have declined to publicly comment on the case.
Trump said on Aug. 10 that the DOJ and FBI had previously asked his legal team to put an extra lock on the door leading to the place where boxes containing records were stored, to which they agreed.
‘Calculated Error’While the White House has denied having foreknowledge of the FBI action, Tenney found that hard to believe.
“Everybody behind the scenes knew exactly what they were doing, and this was a calculated event,” she said. “The proof will be in the evidence when it comes out and if we can ever get to the truth.
“The Democrats thought this would really make Trump look bad. I think they're trying to cook up some kind of scheme, again, to prevent him from running again, should he decide to enter the race.”
Tenney also saw the raid as a way to distract the public from the “horrific bill that they just passed,” the Inflation Reduction Act, a $700 billion Democrat spending measure that includes $80 billion in funding to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which Republicans say would allow the agency to hire an additional 87,000 enforcement agents. The legislation passed along party lines in the Senate and the House last week, before President Joe Biden’s signed it into law on Aug. 16.
With three months left until the midterm elections, Republicans are poised to take back control of the House chamber. The timing of the raid makes it a likely bid for the Democrats to discredit their opponents, according to Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.).
Part of the dinner table discussions involved “putting America First in November and how the left is using every dirty trick in the book to try and save their fading majority,” she told The Epoch Times.
“I was glad to see President Trump doing well, and I look forward to working with him to save our country.”
Tenney believes that the “weaponized federal government’s acting, whether it's the FBI, the Department of Justice, and its two-tier justice system,” will backfire on the Democrats and rally even those who don’t really like Trump but believe in freedom.
“This is going to make people even more concerned, especially with all these IRS agents scattering the country looking for people,” she said. “The Democrats made a calculated error, in my opinion.”
Voters appear to be reacting to the raid as well, according to findings released by the Convention of States Action, a conservative advocacy group, in the first national poll conducted following the raid.
2024 BidDuring the meeting, Trump gathered viewpoints from around the room on his entering into the 2024 presidential race and whether he should announce his bid after the midterm elections in November.
Nehls, when it was his turn, urged Trump to “get out there right away” to remove anxiety from his supporters, who know how “ruthless” Trump’s enemies are and are overwhelming him with their concerns.
“My phone and my texts, my emails are blowing up,” the congressman said.
“You don't have to wait. There's no need to wait. You're the leader of our party,” he told Trump. “You will put [the Democrats] on Rolaids for the next two years. And it's going to be great to see.”
His confidence in Trump’s 2024 presidency was shared by another Texas Republican, Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas).
InvestigationsHouse Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has pledged action against what he described as the DOJ's “weaponized politicization” when Republicans are back in charge of the chamber.
“Attorney General Garland: Preserve your documents and clear your calendar,” he said.
Multiple lawmakers at the dinner also echoed such calls and highlighted what they observed to be a double standard being applied to Republicans vis-à-vis Democrats.
“We remain focused on November, and President Trump is fired up. When the Republicans are in charge, we will conduct rigorous oversight of the unelected bureaucracy,” he said, naming the FBI, the DOJ, the Biden family’s “suspicious foreign business deals,” the COVID-19 origins, and the record surge of illegal immigrants at the southern border as some of the key priorities after midterms.
“This egregious double standard must be stopped, and the swamp must be drained!”
Nehls shared this indignation.
“Could you imagine if Hunter’s last name was Trump? Just think about what the left and the dishonest media ... would have been doing to Trump every day, all day long,” Nehls said. “They would be asking for Donald to resign. They would say your family's a disgrace. ... But looking at what the media has done to Hunter, nothing. Zero.”
Trump’s ‘Going to Come Back’Trump didn’t reveal his plans for 2024 at the meeting.
Whatever decision he makes, Nehls said he would stand behind the former president.
“I will fight to the gates of hell if it was for him,” he said. “That man loves this country more than just about anybody I've ever met. He put the American people first. His policies and the results of those policies put America on a trajectory to just having a lot of hope—a bright, bright future for every American, but disenfranchised.
“I'm a Donald Trump guy. I've always been a Donald Trump guy, and I will continue to be a Donald Trump guy.”
The congressman said that he couldn’t be more excited to be part of the group.
“[The year] 2024 is the year of Donald Trump," Nehls said. "We need him, he's going to come back.
“Our country is burning on several fronts. If they call it a crisis, I guess we have a crisis everywhere. And there's only one guy that did come in and save this country right now, in my humble opinion, and that’s Donald J. Trump.”
The White House and DOJ didn't respond to queries from The Epoch Times by press time. The FBI declined to comment.