Sen. Chuck Grassley opposes calls to shut down the FBI though he admits ‘things aren’t right with the FBI.’
Amid scorching GOP criticism of the FBI over undue politicization—including outright calls to shut down the agency and rebuild it from scratch—one Republican senator is telling his party colleagues to cool it.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was asked in a Sept. 15 interview on an Iowa Public Broadcasting Service program what he thinks about Republican criticism of the federal law enforcement agency, with calls ranging from reducing funding to ones demanding the FBI’s complete dissolution.
Asked to respond to calls by Mr. Ramaswamy and others to either defund or dismantle the FBI, Mr. Grassley said: “Anybody that takes that position is stupid for saying it.”
“We’ve got to have an FBI,” the Republican senator added.
Mr. Ramaswamy’s campaign did not return a request for comment on Mr. Grassley’s remarks.
The FBI did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
‘You Can’t Defund the FBI’
Mr. Grassley said in the interview that, for several years now, Republicans have been “making fun of the Democrats wanting to defund the police.”
Democrat calls to defund the police swelled into a nationwide drumbeat after the death of George Floyd in 2020 but later quieted down or even backtracked in some places like Seattle after a spike in crime.
“It’s the same thing,” Mr. Grassley said of his Republican colleagues making demands to pull funding from the FBI. “You can’t defund. We don’t want to defund the police. You can’t defund the FBI.”
Later in the interview, Mr. Grassley made clear he thinks criticism of the FBI is warranted.
“I want to follow up and say that obviously, things aren’t right with the FBI, from my point of view,” Mr. Grassley said.
“But you don’t defund the FBI to make that point, you reform the FBI.”
Mr. Grassley’s remarks came hot on the heels of Mr. Ramaswamy’s latest public appearance, in which he described plans to shut down not only the FBI but also the Department of Education (DOE), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
“This is just the beginning of the list of federal agencies that we will either shut down or downsize by 75 percent or more,” Mr. Ramaswamy said toward the end of his speech.
“I didn’t say defund the FBI. I said shut down the FBI and replace it with something new,” Mr. Ramaswamy said at the time. “I think it’s a new apparatus built from scratch that actually respects the law instead of making it up.”
FBI in GOP Crosshairs
The FBI has faced repeated allegations of having become politicized in a number of cases, including claims of targeting parents protesting at school board meetings, using intimidation tactics against pro-life activists, or colluding with social media companies to censor Americans’ free speech ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
According to Mr. Durham, the FBI rushed to open the initial investigation based on unvetted intelligence, and FBI personnel showed “at best, a cavalier attitude towards accuracy and completeness.”
“The master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter comes through in this November 2022 email, in which ‘FBI San Francisco is notifying you’ it wants action on four accounts,” investigative reporter Matt Taibbi wrote in a thread on X, in which he shared various internal Twitter records as part of Twitter Files 6.
Among these, Mr. Taibbi shared a screenshot of an email from the FBI asking for “any action or inaction deemed appropriate within Twitter policy” with respect to accounts that “may potentially constitute violations.”
Asked about the allegations that it was putting the weight of its institutional heft on the political scales with such requests, the FBI told The Epoch Times via email that all it ever did was notify private sector entities about “foreign malign influence” but any action was taken independently by the companies.
Texas state Rep. Troy Nehls, a Republican and former sheriff, took to Twitter to say that the FBI would face a probe when the GOP assumed control of the House in several weeks.
In light of the various reports and revelations about the FBI’s questionable actions, a growing number of Republicans have leveled criticism against the law enforcement agency.
Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said at a recent press briefing: “We do not want to fund them at their current level. We want to send them a message that they obviously have too much money. They’re weaponized and using the taxpayers’ money against the taxpayers. We are done with that.”
Calls to defund or disband the FBI also got a boost after agents raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property and seized government records that the former president says he declassified.