WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday blasted Republicans over their recent attacks on the FBI after agents searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month as well as their response to the Jan. 6 riots.
“It’s sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI, threatening the lives of law enforcement agents and their families for simply carrying out the law and doing their job,” Biden said during a visit to the key swing state of Pennsylvania.
“I want to say this as clearly as I can. There is no place in this country, no place, for endangering the lives of law enforcement. No place, none, never, period,” Biden said. “I’m opposed to defunding the police, I’m also opposed to defunding the FBI.”
In the weeks since FBI agents found a trove of classified documents at Trump's Florida home, many Republican officials have lashed out at federal law enforcement agencies, calling for retribution and threatening to slash their funding. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned on Sunday that there would be “riots in the streets” if Trump were prosecuted.
Biden also criticized Republicans who have been unwilling to forcefully condemn the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, looking to flip the script on the GOP's pro-law enforcement message.
"Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress, don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on a sixth, don’t tell me, you can't do it," Biden said.
"For God’s sake, whose side are you on? On the side of a mob or the side of the police? You can’t be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection. You can’t be a party of law and order and call the people who attack the police on January 6 patriots. You can’t do it," he said.
In afternoon remarks in Wilkes Barre, near his hometown of Scranton, Biden also called for increasing funding to hire and train 100,000 police officers in accordance with a recent executive order on policing.
He also highlighted recent legislative wins that aim to help law enforcement, including money from the economic stimulus package passed last March that state and local governments have used for policing, as well as the bipartisan gun safety law he signed in June.
“When it comes to public safety the answer is not defund the police. It’s fund the police, fund the police,” Biden said.
Biden also called once again for an assault weapons ban while highlighting the progress his administration made earlier in the year in passing gun legislation.
“We’re living in a country awash with weapons of war, weapons that weren’t designed to hunt, they’re designed to take on an enemy, that’s what they’re designed to do,” Biden said. “For God’s sake, what’s the rationale for these weapons outside of the war zone.”
Biden will return to Pennsylvania on Thursday for a prime-time speech at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where he’ll say America’s “rights and freedoms are still under attack,” returning to the core message of his 2020 campaign, a White House official said. The visits come as Biden ramps up his travel schedule in the closing months of the midterm elections, including trips to Milwaukee and Pittsburgh on Labor Day.
The district where the president will be speaking Tuesday is represented by Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright and is considered a toss-up race by the Cook Political Report. Democratic Senate nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, meanwhile, will not be attending the event, though he and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro will attend Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade next week when Biden is set to also visit the city.
Some Democrats have been hesitant to campaign with the president despite his recent streak of legislative victories.
Biden delivered a fiery speech at a midterm elections rally and a Democratic fundraiser in Maryland last week, where he lashed out at Republicans who have embraced the “Make America Great Again” philosophy central to Donald Trump’s presidency, saying it’s “like semi-fascism,” a comment that was immediately rebuked by the GOP.
Trump is expected to hold a rally in the Wilkes Barre area Saturday in an effort to boost the candidacies of Senate contender Dr. Mehmet Oz and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who’s running for governor.