- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is criticizing the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach estate late Monday, calling it the “weaponization” of federal agencies.

Mr. DeSantis, a Republican and potential Trump rival in the 2024 presidential nomination, also tied the FBI action at Mar-a-Lago to the Democrats’ decision to beef up IRS enforcement in their tax and climate legislation.

“The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves,” Mr. DeSantis tweeted, referring to President Biden’s son, who faces a federal investigation into his finances. “Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic.”

Mr. Trump on Monday said a large group of FBI agents raided his estate and broke into his safe.

The raid appears to be linked to investigations into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents.

Federal law bars the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it is possible that Mr. Trump could try to argue as president, that he was the ultimate declassification authority.

SEE ALSO: Trump: FBI agents ‘raided’ Mar-a-Lago, breached safe

There are multiple statutes governing classified information, including a law punishable by up to five years in prison that makes it a crime to remove such records and retain them at an unauthorized location.

Another statute makes it a crime to mishandle classified records either intentionally or in a grossly negligent manner.

Mr. DeSantis’ voice on the matter is notable because he governs the state where the raid unfolded.

Polling also shows that conservatives consider Mr. DeSantis a leading alternative to Mr. Trump if the former president decides not to run or legal challenges — particularly related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol — make it difficult for him to secure the 2024 GOP nomination.

• Jeff Mordock contributed to this story.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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