Republican senators are opposing attempts by former President Trump and his allies to villainize the FBI and main Justice Department after the 37-count indictment against the former president. Trump’s attacks on the FBI are becoming a dividing line in the GOP just as his claims of widespread election fraud developed into a major fault line within the party in the 2022 midterm elections, The Hill reports. Trump has ramped up his rhetoric targeting the Justice Department so aggressively that some lawmakers fear it could provoke violence. Some are urging fellow Republicans to tone down their rhetoric. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said House Republicans who make statements with violent overtones are “irresponsible to say that. There’s no violent solution to this problem.” Graham tried to talk down Trump allies who are comparing the federal indictment of the former president to an act of war by pointing out that Trump will have fair representation in court. “We have a legal system, he’ll be represented, there will be appeals, this will go all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said. “There’s a belief on the Republican side that the law doesn’t apply equally to Republicans and Democrats but that’s no reason to engage in violent activity.” Graham made his comments after Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) tweeted: “We have reached a new war phase” and vowed “an eye for an eye.”
Some Republican senators fear that echoing Trump’s attacks on federal law enforcement will further polarize the nation and alienate moderate and swing voters, just as Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen turned off many voters last year. An ABC News/Ipsos poll of 910 adults conducted June 9-10 found that 63% of independents think the charges against Trump are “serious.” 45% of independents said that Trump should be charged with a crime while 33% said he should not be charged. Hours after being arraigned in Miami, Trump told supporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., that Special Counsel Jack Smith is “a raging and uncontrolled Trump-hater, as is his wife.” Some Senate Democrats are warning that Trump could stoke a violent response such as he did on Jan. 6, 2021, when he urged supporters to “fight like hell” before they stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of Biden’s election victory. “When I was a prosecutor and I tried cases the standard defense was to attack the prosecutor, to denigrate the FBI, and to challenge the motives of the government. It’s a distraction. In this instance it’s a very dangerous distraction because it degrades and undercuts the public’s trust in our law enforcement institutions because it’s coming not from a criminal defendant but from elected officials. I think it’s abhorrent,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a former U.S. Attorney.