NASHVILLE — The indictment of former President Donald Trump by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from hundreds of classified documents seized at his Florida home has Republicans and Democrats in Tennessee and Georgia seeing red and blue.
US Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, accused the FBI of waging an “unprecedented vendetta” against Trump since the businessman announced his first presidential candidacy in 2015.
“A few years ago it would have been unthinkable that an attorney general would have authorized an FBI raid on a former president’s home,” the Brentwood senator said in a statement after Trump announced his indictment on social media. “Meanwhile, the left is employing a playbook of ‘distracting and distracting’ that feels eerily familiar.”
(READ MORE: Trump impeachment key moments: Showing classified material, leaving documents in a bathroom)
She accused the Justice Department and Democratic politicians of concocting a plan to accuse Trump of collusion with Russia.
“This is our two-tier justice system in all its glory,” Senator Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee, said on social media. “The Biden DOJ is burying investigations into President Biden and his family while indicting his political rivals. Making America look like a banana republic is incredibly irresponsible.”
The Washington Post and others have reported that the US Department of Justice is investigating President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, for possible tax violations or a violation related to his gun purchase. It is said to have happened at a time when the younger Biden said he used crack cocaine regularly. It is a federal crime when an “unlawful user of…controlled substances” “possesses any firearm.”
On Wednesday, U.S. House Republicans dropped plans to launch a contempt of congress trial against FBI Director Christopher Wray after the agency agreed to provide the U.S. House Oversight Committee with a document containing uncorroborated reports from confidential Includes sources about President Biden.
Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence had also kept confidential documents but searched and returned them after news of Trump’s possession of the material blew up.
Trump eventually returned some, but not all, of the records. Federal agents later searched his home in Mar-a-Lago and found others. Many of the 37 charges in his federal indictment center are based on allegations that he attempted to conceal or withhold documents or obstructed efforts to return them to the government.
US Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, made a statement.
“Ever since President Trump took office, there has been a relentless attempt to undermine and destroy him by any means necessary. The indictment shows the use of weapons by the DOJ and the FBI against Donald Trump,” he said. “America cannot allow or tolerate a two-tier justice system.”
US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Northwest Georgia, also criticized the indictment.
“37 counts of election interference is exactly what the Justice Department just committed,” she said on social media.
U.S. Representative Andrew Clyde, R-Georgia, spoke out on Twitter.
“The indictment of President Trump is not just a dangerous display of our two-tiered justice system and armed government,” he said. “It’s election interference.”
Trump’s former attorney general, Republican Bill Barr, dismissed criticism that the charges were politically motivated.
“Over time, people will realize that this is not a Justice Department witch hunt,” Barr said in an interview with CBS News. “In fact, they went about it very gently and with respect for the President, and it wouldn’t have gone anywhere if the President had just returned the documents. But he tossed them back and forth for a year and a half.”
Targeting criticism from Trump and Republican lawmakers, Democratic US Representative Nikima Williams, D-Georgia, said the law is the law.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a billionaire, a cop, or even the President of the United States. NOBODY is above the law,” she said on social media. “The law applies equally to EVERYONE.”
(READ MORE: What you should know about the document case and how to proceed)
US Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis, Tennessee’s only Democratic congressman, negatively compared Trump to former President Richard Nixon, who left office rather than face impeachment by the US House of Representatives over his involvement in the Watergate scandal.
“At least Nixon went into the night calmly,” Cohen explained in a tweet.
Some Democrats have criticized Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for comments suggesting that the President of the United States or POTUS was behind Special Counsel Jack Smith’s action.
“POTUS did not indict Trump, but indicted a grand jury of Trump’s peers in Florida,” U.S. Representative Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, said on social media. “You know this, but you and your party continue to spread misinformation.”
Smith is a former US Department of Justice attorney who once headed the DOJ’s Public Integrity Division.
Smith relocated to Tennessee in 2017, where he served as Acting U.S. Attorney for Tennessee’s Middle District for several months during the transition period between Presidents Barack Obama and Trump.
He then worked briefly at Nashville-based healthcare giant HCA. He later acted as chief prosecutor in The Hague investigating war crimes.
Attorney General Merrick Garland later assigned Smith to investigate Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, including the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
(READ MORE: Trump charged with secret documents in first federal indictment against ex-president)
The other assignment involved Trump storing classified material at his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
Nashville attorney Gary Blackburn said by phone Friday that he was aware of Smith in his role as acting US attorney but had never dealt with him directly.
“He had a reputation for being a very straight forward arrow. Not exactly an honorable fellow,” Blackburn said, laughing. “But a really serious prosecutor.”
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-285-9480.