Tim Kaine criticizes Trump, GOP’s ‘violent’ rhetoric after Mar-a-Lago search

In the aftermath of the FBI raid on former President Trump’s Florida residence, Trump and like-minded Republicans have resorted to “extreme and violent” rhetoric or assertions about government motives that increase the risk of political mayhem, says Sen. Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia.

Kaine noted Trump and sympathetic conservatives have baselessly suggested FBI agents planted evidence during their search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Trump and Republicans have called the search an “invasion” and illegitimate — prompting calls from some to disband or “defund” the FBI — currently led by Trump-appointed Director Chris Wray.

“When you see Donald Trump suggesting that, that tells you he’s worried about something that they’ll find,” Kaine told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on this week’s episode of The Takeout. “He’s trying to lay the groundwork for claiming it wasn’t really his.”

The interview was conducted Aug. 10, one day before a Trump protester who was in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021 during the Capitol riot, attempted to infiltrate an FBI field office in Cincinnati, leading to an armed standoff and the suspect’s death in a shootout with authorities.

Kaine said Trump remains “innocent until proven guilty” in any probe into his handling of classified documents.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has moved to release the search warrant and written summary of materials the FBI removed under the search warrant’s authorities. Kaine noted Trump, who first disclosed the raid, could have done so himself.

“Thus far, he’s not doing that. Instead, he’s whining about the FBI persecuting him,” Kaine said.

Asked about the sizable contingent of Trump supporters who rallied near Mar-a-Lago and complained about the lack of focus on President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, Kaine noted that the Justice Department has an active investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings.

“If you’re a powerful person, if you’re related to a powerful person, you’re subject to the same laws that everybody is,” he said. “And Democrats don’t question it. And it’s not all Republicans who question it either, but why Donald Trump and his acolytes believe he should be above the law is very, very troubling.”

In political matters, Kaine said he would support Mr. Biden if he ran for re-election but noted that uncertainty about the president’s plans has created “angst” within the party. He said if Mr. Biden were to defer a run for re-election Vice President Kamala Harris would be the “front-runner” but not heir apparent.

But he said he highly doubted his 2016 running mate Hillary Clinton would run if Mr. Biden did not in 2024.

“I don’t see that right now,” he said.

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