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Republican challenger in Nevada Senate race refuses to back FBI, calls it 'far too political'

Adam Laxalt, the state's former attorney general, criticized Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto for what he called a lack of support for police.
Adam Laxalt
Nevada Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt at a news conference in Las Vegas on Aug. 4.John Locher / AP file

HENDERSON, Nev. — Adam Laxalt teed off on Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, his Democratic opponent in Nevada's Senate race, at a campaign event here Wednesday, accusing her of failing to stand behind law enforcement in 2020 after a George Floyd protest turned violent.

But after the event, Laxalt, a Republican who was once Nevada's top law enforcement official, refused to support the FBI.

“The FBI is far too political right now, and we need to do something to take the polarization out of that,” Laxalt said in a response to a question from NBC News. "We just can't afford to have our top law enforcement agency that politicized."

The FBI has increasingly come under attack from Republicans after last month’s seizure of government documents, some of them classified, from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Laxalt, the state's former attorney general, who is now locked in a margin-of-error race with Cortez Masto, tweeted last month that the FBI's actions in Florida were “just another example of the growing weaponization of our federal agencies by the Left.”

“Starting Nov. 8th, this power grab will come to an end,” he added, referring to Election Day.

Laxalt made his most recent remarks after a campaign event with Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who was the U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration. Both Haley and Laxalt lobbed attacks on Cortez Masto and highlighted law enforcement endorsements of Laxalt, who said "95% of police in this state are supporting me."

Speaking at DragonRidge Country Club, Laxalt told supporters that Cortez Masto should have denounced the violence in Las Vegas after a local officer was injured two years ago during protests of police violence against Black Americans.

“She could have taken the microphone and said: ‘Enough. Not in our city. We will not stand for violence, and we support our police,’” Laxalt said.

Shortly after the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer was shot in June 2020, Cortez Masto tweeted: “We don’t have all of the details yet, but one thing is clear: this violence is unacceptable."

Cortez Masto’s campaign spokesman, Josh Marcus-Blank, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that Laxalt has "attacked federal law enforcement" and "sided with insurrectionists who went after Capitol Police."

Laxalt told The Associated Press in a statement this year that he believes the “very few” who broke laws on Jan. 6, 2021, should be prosecuted.

More than 850 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and over 350 have pleaded guilty.