U.S. Sen. James Lankford is concerned that former President Donald Trump is not being treated fairly, especially after FBI agents executed a search warrant at his Florida home earlier this week, he said Wednesday.
“I can 100% guarantee you if the FBI had executed a search warrant on Hillary Clinton’s house while President Trump was president, the media would have gone crazy and said this is retribution,” Lankford told about 100 people at the Tulsa County Republican Men’s Club.
Searching the home of an ex-president, Lankford said, is “unprecedented.”
That’s true, and a good many people of all political viewpoints are uneasy about the future ramifications of this week’s search.
But it is also argued that just about everything associated with Trump’s presidency has been unprecedented. Twice impeached, he actively tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in U.S. history and took an unknown quantity of classified records with him when he left the White House.
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Lankford, as have others, suggested that the search of Trump’s home is an overblown squabble between the president and the National Archives. Every president, said Lankford, has had disagreements about which papers are personal and which are public records.
But Trump’s case is different in that he seems to have actually removed, and may have destroyed, sensitive documents. In any event, as Lankford conceded, he doesn’t really know what the FBI was looking for or took away.
Only the Department of Justice and Trump’s inner circle seem to know that.
For the conservatives assembled Wednesday, though, the search is just another example of unfair treatment.
“We’re talking about justice,” said Tulsa Republican Party Chairwoman Ronda Vuillemont-Smith. “When we see people like Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden that walk away scot-free, our belief in our justice system is shot. There’s nothing fair about what’s going on.”
Lankford also jumped on President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who has a history of substance abuse and perhaps skirting or breaking the law.
“Hunter Biden was at the White House a couple of weeks ago, walking around a White House event, when it’s clear he’s had federal firearms violations; he’s had crack cocaine violations; he’s done prostitution across state lines; there’s all kinds of problems on his tax records; and he’s just walking around. So the double standard could not be more clear,” Lankford said.
But those who are not Trump fans point out that the former president has had tax and business problems for decades, and it has been demonstrated that he paid a former mistress for her silence.
They would also point out that neither Hunter Biden nor Hillary Clinton, who has been the subject of several extensive investigations, has been accused by people close to them of advocating violence against the U.S. vice president or planning to seize the national government.
But many conservatives, including Lankford, do not see it that way. The fact that some of the largest news organizations in the world have reported at great length on the search, or that mainstream sources broke most of the stories that led to investigations of Clinton, does not register.
“This is a clear double standard of our media,” Lankford said. “If this happened under Trump, the media would go crazy. If it happened under Biden, they say, ‘Oh, let’s just wait for more information.’
“I believe every person is equal under the law. Every person is equal under the law. But it should also be consistent in how it’s applied,” he said.
All of that said, some Republicans seem ready to move past the drama that seems to have followed Trump throughout his public life. State GOP Chairman A.J. Ferate has challenged candidates sticking to the unproven and largely debunked storyliine that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.”
Lankford himself began his talk and spent most of his time talking about the climate-health-care-revenue bill passed by the Senate along party lines on Sunday.
Not surprisingly, Lankford had nothing good to say about it.
The portions dealing with prescription drug prices, he said, are either unfair to manufacturers — and, therefore, ultimately bad for consumers — or don’t really do much.
The portions addressing climate, he said, are unfair to oil and gas and are likely to increase energy prices.
He also attacked sections that independent tax watchdogs say will lower the national deficit by about $300 billion over 10 years, chiefly by hiring more Internal Revenue Service staff to capture some of the $600 billion a year in taxes that are owed but not paid.
Lankford did not dispute that the IRS needs more employees, but he likened a step-up in enforcement to a small town speed trap, in which traffic cops are told to write enough tickets to cover their own salaries and the city’s other expenses.
When someone asked whether the IRS would be hiring only Democrats to audit only Republicans, Lankford replied, “That seems a nonsensical question except … we’ve watched that first hand.”