Factbox-Trump indictment puts Justice Department at center of 2024 Republican race

By Gram Slattery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The indictment of former President Donald Trump on multiple charges related to his handling of classified documents on Thursday has thrust the Justice Department back into the center of the Republican presidential primary campaign.

Several candidates have called for major reforms within the department, and most have accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a constituent agency, of being biased against conservatives. The department says all investigative decisions are made without regard to partisan politics and President Joe Biden has also emphasized its independence.

Here’s what the top Republican candidates of 2024 had to say about it:


Trump, who was indicted in Florida on Thursday and faces a separate federal investigation in Washington, has consistently accused the Justice Department of corruption, without offering any evidence to support his claims.

After being charged by New York local authorities in March as part of an investigation into his alleged role in covering up silent money payments to a porn star, he said the entire department should be finance.

In a video posted Thursday on his Truth Social platform, he reiterated previous claims that the Justice Department has been weaponized for political purposes.


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s most formidable challenger, has said he will fire FBI Director Christopher Wray on his first day in office, and he has consistently spoken out against what he calls the “militarization” of the federal bureaucracy.

“The DeSantis administration will hold the DOJ to account, eliminate political bias and end militarization once and for all,” he said in a statement following Trump’s latest impeachment.


Former Vice President Mike Pence has expressed concern about what he says is law enforcement bias against conservatives and called for greater transparency when it comes to Trump investigations. But he has been reluctant to push for more aggressive reforms at the Justice Department.


Nikki Haley, the former UN ambassador under Trump, said if elected she would clean up the FBI. She criticized Trump’s latest indictment, calling it an “excessive push for the prosecution.”


South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said he would fire FBI Director Wray and other political appointees at the agency, though he has stood up for the agency’s rank-and-file employees.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is the militarization of the Justice Department against the former president,” he told Fox News in an interview Thursday night.


Venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy has called for the FBI to be abolished. In a statement late Thursday, he blasted the Justice Department, calling it a “federal police state.”


Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a frequent critic of Trump, said the scope of the FBI’s jurisdiction should be narrowed. However, he opposes calls for defunding the law enforcement agency.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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