Pro-Trump backlash raises violence concerns

The stunning FBI search of former President Trump’s Florida residence this week has inspired a fierce backlash on the right, fueling concern among experts about the escalating risk of political violence.


The response among Trump supporters has ranged from sharp criticism over the Justice Department’s tactics to outright incendiary rhetoric, with Trump himself comparing the search of his home to the Nixon-era burglary of the Watergate complex.

  • Some of Trump’s most fervent backers described this week’s legal development as reflecting a country in the midst of civil war, and in isolated cases some far-right extremists called for mobilization in response to what was depicted as an act of tyranny by lawless federal agents.
  • Although the FBI’s search was based on a warrant approved by a federal judge, that did not stop Republicans from claiming the probe arose from a desire to damage President Biden’s main rival rather than potentially criminal conduct linked to Trump.

“The GOP’s choice to turn a probe into the mishandling of classified documents into a cause célèbre is dangerous, particularly given Trump’s history of calling on private violence, mobs, and militias for support,” said Rachel Kleinfeld, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “A democracy cannot allow anyone to be above the law.”