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Donald Trump calls for defunding federal police after his arrest in New York

Trump and a handful of allies in the Republican-led House favor cutting money for the Justice Department and the FBI ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government.
Donald Trump makes his way inside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York on April 4, 2023.
Donald Trump in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesaday.Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump is egging on Republicans in Congress to “defund” federal law enforcement ahead of a government funding deadline this fall.

“Republicans in Congress should defund the DOJ and FBI until they come to their senses,” he posted on his social media platform, writing in all-caps. “The Democrats have totally weaponized law enforcement in our country and are viciously using this abuse of power to interfere with our already under siege elections!”

April 5, 2023.
April 5, 2023.Donald Trump (Truth Social)

Trump’s comment was arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in New York related to falsifying of business records in connection with the 2016 election. Hours after his arraignment, he gave a speech at his Florida residence blasting the various legal probes he faces, including those by the federal government.

Follow live updates on the aftermath of Trump’s arrest

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has also suggested that the Republican-led House use its purse strings to limit federal law enforcement.

“We control the power of the purse. We’re going to have to look at the appropriations process and limit funds going to some of these agencies, particularly the ones who are engaged in the most egregious behavior,” Jordan said Sunday on Fox News.

Asked by host Maria Bartiromo whether he means the Justice Department and the FBI, Jordan responded, “Yeah.”

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, a member of party leadership in the Democratic-controlled Senate, said that’s not going to happen.

“There are no circumstances under which we will defund federal law enforcement. There will be enough bipartisan votes to ignore this demand. It’s nonsense, it’s bad policy, and it’s worse politics,” Schatz told NBC News.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the vice chair and top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, also rejected Trump’s call.

“Reforms may be needed, but I strongly oppose defunding the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Collins said in a statement her office provided in response to a query.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said that contrary to Trump, he’s “not for defund the police.”

“I think it’s a bad idea,” he said Wednesday. “As frustrated as he has a right to be about some things the FBI has done, terrorism lurks out there, and taking your guard down from one moment could be very dangerous for the public.”

Jordan has, for months, railed against what he alleges is the “politicization” of the Justice Department and the FBI, accusing them of unfairly targeting conservatives. The agencies are a major focus of the new House panel he leads, the committee on the weaponization of the federal government.

Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government or force a shutdown of federal agencies. With the two parties far apart over priorities, it’s not clear what a deal might look like. It's also unclear whether there will be enough support in the GOP's narrow House majority to pass a bill to slash funds to the Justice Department and the FBI. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has supported higher federal and local police funding.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., who is investigating Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, said he’ll get on a phone call with Jordan and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., this week to “figure out a path moving forward,” calling their probe into Bragg's investigation “very serious.”

“Alvin Bragg doesn’t even know where his funding comes from. But he gets federal funding, and that’s where it falls into the jurisdiction of the House Oversight Committee,” Comer said Wednesday in an appearance on Fox News.

The back-and-forth presents a new twist in a long-running political clash between the parties. For years Republicans have attacked Democrats as the anti-police party, seizing on a “defund the police” slogan left-wing activists created during the 2020 protests against the murder of George Floyd.

But when the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August in connection with a probe involving classified documents, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a Trump ally, tweeted: “DEFUND THE FBI!”

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Tommy Garcia fired back Wednesday: “Donald Trump joining extreme MAGA House Republicans in attacking law enforcement and government agencies that keep us safe and secure reminds us just how dangerous the Republican Party is. They cannot be trusted with power, or to uphold the rule of law.”