Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, is trying to tiptoe the line between being pro-MAGA and pro-law enforcement after federal agents executed a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home last week.
But Trump's continued attacks on the Justice Department make that task increasingly difficult for Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican. To support Trump is to reject law — or, at least, the fair application of laws.
Fitzpatrick supported the bill Trump signed into law in 2018 that made it a felony to retain classified materials in an unauthorized location, which Trump appears to have done. It has put Fitzpatrick and his fellow Republicans in a bind as the property receipt released Friday indicates investigators recovered classified documents during their search of Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Asked Sunday about false claims by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., that FBI agents went “rogue” in searching Trump’s estate, Fitzpatrick tried to play the middle ground while criticizing people who demonize officers. In context, it was a clear — albeit meek — rebuke of Scalise.
“I’ve urged all my colleagues to make sure they understand the weight of their words and understanding what we don’t know yet,” Fitzpatrick said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Host Margaret Brennan also questioned Fitzpatrick about Trump's recent statement calling the FBI a "corrupt" and "criminal" enterprise and his attempt to raise money off his anti-law enforcement rhetoric.
“Every single elected official, every single leader, needs to mind the weight of their words," Fitzpatrick responded, adding: "I’m very concerned, Margaret, for the safety of our law enforcement officers, especially right now.
"I myself have been notified by the bureau that my life was put in danger recently by some of these same people," he continued, appearing to refer to Trump supporters outraged over the Mar-a-Lago search.
Fitzpatrick was one of just 35 House Republicans who voted to create a House committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. (Trump, of course, vehemently opposed creating the committee.) His admission Sunday was seemingly a rare moment of honesty from a Republican acknowledging and denouncing right-wing attacks on law enforcement.
And more personally, it seemed to be an understanding by Fitzpatrick that the right-wing, pro-Trump mob has its sights set on him.
You can hear a bit of tension in Fitzpatrick’s voice throughout the interview, though. At once, he knows the GOP line is to defend Trump and attack law enforcement officials. So he hews close to the Republican talking points pushing the FBI to share more detail about the basis for the search warrant even though doing so goes against protocol — as Fitzpatrick knows and acknowledges. But as a former law officer, he also seems to know that the seriousness of the statutes cited in the Trump warrant, including a potential Espionage Act violation, suggest the investigation is graver than most Republicans are willing to admit.
Check out the full segment here: