Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Attorney Merrick Garland had a responsibility to share with the American people why the FBI raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.
Partial transcript as follows:
ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, we’re really happy to have you here. So earlier this week, you said that the FBI search must be justified and that you had serious questions about the integrity of the Justice Department. Having seen what they retrieved, including all these classified documents, has that answered your questions about the need for them to go in?
ROUNDS: I think it brings more questions. And I think it’s important that we recognize that there are more – that there’s more information to be released yet. I think releasing the affidavit would help. At least that would confirm that there was justification for this raid. But remember, this is also a case of where we’re going to have more questions as they continue to develop, as they look through the information, the material that they’ve garnered at Mar-a-Lago. Perhaps they will share some of what their concern was. They’ll share a little bit about the reason for actually going in and doing it this way. There’s going to be a question about whether or not they did exhaust, as Attorney General Garland said, all other means to to do this rather than making this unprecedented move on the home of a former president. This is a – you know, this is a very historic attempt and a challenge really in, with regard to looking at a former president, and whether or not they want to bring any kind of charges against him. This is a change, and this is something that will go down in history, and it will be studied for years to come. But in the meantime, I think most Republicans would prefer to look – right now with the 2022 midterms coming up, we’d much prefer to focus on what the policies are right now that are hurting our economy. And as my friend Amy Klobuchar said, they want to talk about what they think is the right direction to go. And clearly here in South Dakota where I’m from, I went to a street dance last night, and I’ll tell you what: the folks in Fort Pierre, South Dakota are talking about why gas prices are still high. They’re talking about what the cost of hamburger is. They’re talking about why in the world we want to have 87,000 new bureaucrats in the IRS out chasing down and trying to audit them. And those are the types of things that they’re learning about. Those are the things that they’re scratching their head on and, and that’s the focus that I think Democrats would prefer not to have right now. And if they can get the former president, with all of the popularity that he’s gaining and all of the support he’s getting from his supporters right now, if they could get him to announce right now in the race, they’d love to have that because that would take all the air out of the – out of the atmosphere right now and the challenges that they face with regard to the economy at this time.
MITCHELL: Well, let me play some of the rhetoric, some of the comments, by some of your colleagues about the search and ask you about it on the other side.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:
I know doing this 90 days before an election reeks of politics.
SEN. RAND PAUL:
I think it’s an attack on the rule of law. This is the FBI being used as a political weapon against your opponents.
SEN. TIM SCOTT:
We should be alarmed at the way that the Department of Justice and the FBI have gone after someone.
MITCHELL: Doesn’t the fact that so much was found — including classified documents when the president and his lawyer had affirmed, according to The New York Times, that they had turned everything over — doesn’t that justify a search, an unannounced search? For months and months, they tried to get cooperation. Didn’t they take every step that they could have taken?
ROUNDS: I think the last part of your question is probably very important. I think it would be good for the Justice Department to release some of the information about the extraordinary steps or the steps they did take to try to cooperate with the former president. I also think this will bring into question one constitutional issue that has not been talked about. And that is whether or not a president can declassify or classify certain items. And I think constitutionally back, I believe it was in 1988, there was a Supreme Court decision, U.S. Navy v. Egan, in which they actually talked about whether or not a president could classify and declassify. And it’s never really been litigated. But it appears that a president can classify or perhaps declassify information. And if that’s the case, then the question would be, and I think it will be litigated as this moves forward, whether or not that was completed while the president was in the White House at that time. And I think that’ll be part of the discussion, moving forward. In the meantime, yeah, there’s concern out there. And believe me, Republicans out there are questioning, “Why in the world are you going after a former president right now, but you didn’t go after other individuals who clearly had classified documents or information that was sensitive and you did not do that in the previous administrations?”
MITCHELL: Well, in this case some of the information was compartmentalized. And you know that’s the most secret. That includes sources and methods, and you have to be in a vault to see it. So in any case, those documents should not have been at Mar-a-Lago in the basement. But the classification issue is going to be litigated most likely, as you point out. But in this case, the potential crimes listed on the warrants, those three crimes, don’t require there to have been classified documents. It just requires these papers that could damage national security to be inappropriately held.
ROUNDS: As I said earlier, we do have more questions. And, look, I’m not one of the individuals out there that says that, you know, “Immediately attack the FBI or the Justice Department.” I think this is very important that you provide them with the opportunity to lay out their case. But I think it’s very important long-term for the Justice Department, now that they’ve done this, that they show that this was not just a fishing expedition — that they had, that they had due cause to go in and to do this, that they did exhaust all other means. And if they can’t do that then we’ve got a serious problem on our hands. If they are able to do that and to come forward they should do that as quickly as they can, and they should share that with the American people because this is a time in which — with regard to the institutions in this country — we want the American people to have faith in their institutions. We want them to see that they’re not, that they’re not political, and that they’re not being politicized, particularly during an election year. But, you know, at this point, I think it’s very important that, and I’m hoping, that if they actually did this and that they recognize how serious this was, that they did have their act together before they went in and did this and that it was not a fishing expedition. It is up to them to be able to share with the American public the logic behind what they did, the facts they had, what caused it. And I think releasing that affidavit would be important. But I think, I think Attorney General Garland really does have a responsibility, not just to take accountability for it, but to share with the American people why they did this. We still have more questions than we have answers.
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