Monday’s FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s home and office at Mar-a-Lago has gone chiefly without comment by Utah’s members of Congress. However, two of Trump’s most ardent supporters, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart, have sharply criticized the move.
FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, reportedly as part of an investigation into handling classified documents and materials.
Lee’s criticism is curious because, as of Tuesday afternoon, his official social media channels were silent on the raid. His congressional and campaign Twitter accounts do not address the FBI raid, nor do his congressional and campaign Facebook pages. Lee’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Lee’s personal Facebook page links to a Twitter thread from a Twitter account — “Based Mike Lee” — that was created in July. The account, full of attempted snark and sarcasm, at one point had a profile picture of a young Mike Lee with digital sunglasses superimposed on his face — a reference to the “Deal with it” meme that was popular in the early 2010s. A source close to Lee says the account is Lee’s personal Twitter which he manages by himself.
The thread was posted late Monday evening and asked several questions Lee has as a “former federal prosecutor, and current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” They range from whether Attorney General Merrick Garland personally approved the raid to whether the materials allegedly at the center of Monday’s search were classified.
The second half of the thread is not about Trump and instead talks about Hillary Rodham Clinton, protests at the homes of Supreme Court justices and allegations against Hunter Biden.
Tuesday afternoon, Lee’s campaign sent out a fundraising email that parrots much of the language used in the tweet thread. The email links to a landing page trumpeting ”Hold Merrick Garland Accountable” over a picture of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Lee’s opponent in the November election, independent candidate Evan McMullin, is also using the raid as a fundraising opportunity. His campaign sent out a fundraising email on Tuesday noting this is the first time the FBI has searched the home of a former president.
“They’re closing in on him (Trump) — so I wanted to see if you’ll help me replace his biggest ally in Utah: Mike Lee,” McMullin’s email reads.
Rep. Chris Stewart’s criticism of the FBI action is much more direct than Lee’s. He posted a statement to his official Twitter account promising an investigation of Attorney General Garland if Republicans regain control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
“Did President Biden have knowledge of this raid and approve it? Where is the raid on Hunter Biden’s home? Where is the demand for documents regarding Speaker Pelosi’s alleged insider trading? The American people deserve answers and I look forward to demanding those answers from Attorney General Garland and the DOJ when Republicans take back the House,” Stewart’s statement reads.
The rest of Utah’s members of Congress have remained silent on the raid. Rep. Blake Moore’s office declined to comment. Sen. Mitt Romney and Reps. John Curtis and Burgess Owens did not respond to requests seeking comment.