Utah Rep. Chris Stewart defended Donald Trump following the search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida and doubled down on his criticism of the FBI at a news conference Friday morning.
Stewart and other Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee deflected from reporting that Trump may have endangered national security by allegedly refusing to return classified documents he took with him when he left the White House in January of 2021.
Multiple reports on Thursday night said federal agents were searching for classified documents related to nuclear weapons. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the search seized 11 sets of classified documents. They also took files about Trump’s presidential pardon of Roger Stone and material about French President Emmanuel Macron.
Stewart cast doubt on the justification for the search and demanded to know what information Trump was suspected of keeping.
“Was it nuclear? Heck, maybe it was aliens. That’s the point. We don’t know. We are asking them to tell us,” Stewart said on Friday.
On Friday, a federal judge unsealed the search warrant used by the FBI to search Trump’s residence. The warrant says the search is related to an investigation of potential criminal violations of the Espionage Act. The warrant says materials taken by the FBI include classified materials that can only be viewed in secure government facilities.
On Friday morning, Stewart doubled down on his earlier allegations that the Biden administration had turned the Justice Department into a weapon against his political opponents.
“The perception is now that the Department of Justice and the FBI has chosen a team, and that they’re working for that team now against the interest of other Americans,” Stewart said.
After the search warrant was unsealed, Stewart backtracked some.
“I mean, if he had actual Special Access Programs — do you know how extraordinarily sensitive that is? That’s very, very sensitive. If that were actually at his residence, that would be a problem,” Stewart told Politico. “But we just don’t know that. So let’s find out.”
Stewart’s office did not respond to a request for further comment about his criticisms of the FBI following the release of the search warrant.
Sen. Mike Lee, who also suggested the search of Trump’s home was politically motivated, has remained mum on the subject since Thursday evening’s reports that federal agents were looking for materials relating to nuclear weapons. His office did not respond to a request for comment.