The Illinois Republican party blasted Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department on Wednesday, two days after federal agents searched the Florida residence of former President Donald Trump.
In a statement, the Illinois GOP said that the search represented a “breach of tradition” and raised questions about the potential politicization of the justice system by allowing an investigation into a political rival of President Joe Biden.
“Although it has been two days since the raid on the home of the immediate past president of the United States, the American people have heard nothing from Attorney General Merrick Garland. In view of this unprecedented breach of tradition and heavy-handed approach to an investigation of a former president, and the apparent double standard relative to investigations of Democrats similarly situated at the national level, Attorney General Garland should have already provided a thorough and immediate explanation,” Chairman Don Tracy said in the statement.
The Justice Department has been investigating the potential mishandling of classified information since the National Archives and Records Administration said it had received from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of White House records, including documents containing classified information, earlier this year.
Sources tell NBC News that Monday’s search of the estate was related to that investigation, but no further details were provided.
Several news organizations have sought to unseal a federal judge’s authorization of the search, but it has not yet been made public.
In the aftermath of the search, conservatives have largely been critical of the decision to allow it to proceed, with many, including Sen. Ted Cruz, calling it “an abuse of power.”
Others, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, have gone a step further, calling on an investigation into the Justice Department and for the defunding of the FBI.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has said that the party intends to launch a full-scale investigation into the Justice Department and Garland if they retake the majority in the chamber during the upcoming midterm elections.
Garland has not commented directly on the search, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, declined to comment on the ongoing investigation during a press conference Wednesday.
Supporters of the former president have also used the search as a reason to call for armed action, according to reporting by NBC News, with numerous messages in support of insurrection appearing on the social media network Gab, which is popular among white supremacists and other hate groups.
Numerous Democratic politicians, including Rep. Eric Swalwell, say they have received threats from supporters of the former president, with the frequent Trump critic providing audio of a message on social media.
“Since the FBI search of Mar-A-Lago, Trump, McCarthy and MAGA Republicans are stoking violent rhetoric against lawmakers and law enforcement,” Swalwell said. “Someone is going to get killed.”
Wray also criticized the response to the search, calling such threats “deplorable and dangerous.”
“Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with,” he said.