By James Oliphant
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hours after denouncing the FBI raid on his Florida home as political persecution, former President Donald Trump released a campaign-style video that may be the strongest indication yet that he plans to run against President Joe Biden. in 2024.
The FBI’s actions on Monday have arguably placed Trump in his political sweet spot, allowing him to claim he is a victim of institutional forces intent on destroying him. The much-used narrative again had Republicans rallying around him at a time when his grip on the party seemed to be slipping away.
On Tuesday, Trump and his allies wasted no time trying to stir up anger and passion among his supporters, while also trying to raise dollars by raiding his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida.
“There is no mountain we cannot climb, there is no summit we cannot reach, there is no challenge we cannot meet,” Trump said in the new video, which includes an extended criticism of the Democratic Biden administration. “We won’t bend, we won’t break, we won’t give in.”
The announcement was followed by fundraising appeals highlighting the raid.
According to Reuters sources, FBI agents entered Trump’s home as part of an investigation into his removal of boxes of classified White House records when his term as president ended in 2021.
Trump’s family said he had been cooperating with the investigation, and any criminal responsibility remains unclear.
Alyssa Farah Griffin, Trump’s former top White House adviser, told CNN on Tuesday that if the result of the document search proves disappointing to the public, the outrage among Republican voters could help Trump secure the nomination of his candidate. match.
“If it’s seen as some kind of massive overreach and not something incredibly serious, this is a very good day for Donald Trump,” he said.
Trump, 76, has remained a viable candidate despite surviving two impeachments and a wide-ranging investigation into his ties to Russia while he was president. Investigations into his financial dealings and his possible election interference are ongoing.
The raid was denounced by a group of Republican members of Congress, governors and candidates in the November midterm elections, who also argued that the US Justice Department was politically motivated.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the raid “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against (the administration’s) political opponents.”
DeSantis has long been seen as a possible Republican challenger to Trump for the 2024 presidential nomination, but he too faces re-election as governor this year and is relying on the support of Trump hardliners to help him get there.
Some Democrats openly worried about political pushback.
Democrat Andrew Cuomo, a former governor of New York, asked the Justice Department to immediately explain the reason for the raid.
“It must be more than an inconsequential file search or it will be seen as a political tactic,” tweeted Cuomo, who resigned as governor a year ago after multiple women accused him of unwelcome sexual advances, which he denied.
Republicans have long maintained that their voters are more motivated to vote in the November 8 midterm elections, when control of Congress is at stake. But Democrats hope they have closed the enthusiasm gap after the US Supreme Court struck down constitutional protection for abortion and a series of major legislative victories in Congress.
Biden, in particular, has been enjoying a string of positive news, from better-than-expected economic numbers to the passage of a long-gestating healthcare and climate bill in the Senate.
Now the Republicans appear to be looking to the FBI raid to galvanize their base once again. Arms of the Republican National Committee that support candidates for the US Senate and House of Representatives launched flurries of fundraising in their wake.
Candidates including Herschel Walker, who is running for the US Senate in Georgia, and Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, condemned the raid in harsh terms.
“Our government is rotten to the core,” Lake said in a statement, calling the Biden administration “tyrants” and “corrupt.”
Lake’s rhetoric in part echoed those who participated in the siege of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and pro-Trump social media channels were full of “civil war” comments. after the raid.
Trump has spent the summer implicated by testimony before a congressional investigative committee on the events of January 6 that has suggested that he is to blame for the attack on Capitol Hill. Whether he will be criminally charged remains an open question.
Perhaps as a result, opinion polls show that Trump’s standing in the eyes of some Republicans is slipping. A New York Times/Siena College poll released last month showed nearly half of Republican primary voters surveyed wanted a presidential candidate other than Trump.
Even if Trump manages to win over most Republican voters, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to recapture the widespread support he garnered during his successful 2016 run, and events like the FBI raid could further damage him in that regard.
(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Howard Goller)