The FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago is prompting elected Republicans to openly acknowledge that Trump will likely run for president again
- Many elected Republicans are furiously condemning the FBI raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence.
- Many of them are acknowledging something that they usually don't: that Trump is likely to run again.
- Some are more forthright, while others simply refer to Trump as Biden's "top political opponent."
As elected Republicans condemn the FBI's raid of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, many of them are saying out loud what they've been hesitant to discuss for nearly two years: Trump is likely to run for president again in 2024.
While Trump has been hinting at the prospect for months on end — including declaring that Democrats "desperately don't want me to run in 2024" in his statement announcing the raid — many Republicans in Congress and other elected positions around the country have generally declined to speculate on the former president's plans.
While President Joe Biden says he was unaware of the raid ahead of time, he indirectly oversees the independent Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is under the leadership of director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee.
But that didn't stop Republicans from claiming that the raid — reportedly in connection with classified documents that Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago — was politically motivated. In the process, they often acknowledged Trump's future presidential plans.
"The optics are especially disturbing considering that Presidents Biden and Trump are past and potentially future political opponents," said Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina in a statement. "The DOJ owes the American people a thorough explanation."
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Trump, was even more direct.
"President Trump is likely going to run again in 2024," he wrote on Twitter, though he added that "no one is above the law."
—Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) August 9, 2022
And Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a 2016 presidential candidate himself, released a video in which he referred to Trump as a "likely future election opponent." Trump "might, in fact, be running against [Biden] in a couple years," Rubio said in the video.
—Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 9, 2022
Other examples abound.
"Joe Biden is trying to use the FBI to subdue his top political opponent because they are afraid of him running in 2024," wrote Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee.
"Joe Biden campaigned on bringing our country together, but his DOJ just raided the house of his former - and possibly next - political opponent," wrote Republican Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma.
—Congressman Ben Cline (@RepBenCline) August 9, 2022
Other Republicans stopped short of acknowledging 2024 outright, but instead referred to Trump, in various terms, as Biden's "political opponent."
"This is a brazen weaponization of the FBI by Biden's DOJ against his political opponent," wrote Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
—Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) August 9, 2022
—Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) August 9, 2022
—Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantisFL) August 9, 2022
And Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, often mentioned as a potential future presidential contender himself, referred to Trump as Biden's "chief political opponent" as he called for Attorney General Merrick Garland to either resign or be impeached.
—Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) August 9, 2022
—Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) August 9, 2022
Former prosecutors and other legal experts told Insider in July that a 2024 announcement from Trump ahead of the 2022 midterms would be a "train wreck for the party," taking the focus of the election off of Biden and placing the divisive former president at the center of the discussion.
Additionally, experts said, running for president again would not shield Trump from his ongoing legal woes.