Former President Donald Trump seemed to catch many of his supporters by surprise on Saturday when he championed an idea of building the FBI a new headquarters inside the nation’s capital.
Trump’s stance also allowed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to remind voters that the 45th president failed in one of his key 2016 campaign pledges: to “drain the swamp.”
Writing on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump seemed to be reacting to comments by DeSantis about shipping parts of the federal government out of Washington.
The Florida governor, in recently discussing the Justice Department and FBI’s claims of political independence, told voters the agency was very much a creature of its Democrat-heavy base, and that he would move the agency, or at least its Civil Rights Division, to the middle of the country.
Meanwhile, the FBI is making plans to build a new $1-billion headquarters in suburban Maryland, which is opposed by many House Republicans, including Trump allies such as Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. The plan calls for a facility larger than the Pentagon.
“The FBI Headquarters should not be moved to a far away location, but should stay right where it is, in a new and spectacular building, in the best location in our now crime ridden and filthy dirty, graffiti scarred, Capital,” Trump said on Truth Social.
“They should be involved in bringing back D.C., not running away from it, especially the violent crime,” he added. “An important part of my platform for President is to bring back, restore, and rebuild Washington, D.C., into the ‘crown jewel’ of our Nation. We will make it crime free and GREAT AGAIN.”
“The FBI should not be fleeing for safer, yet much less convenient, environs,” he added. “It should make where they are now the safest place on earth! DON’T MOVE THE FBI.”
The comments seemed surprising, given Trump’s frequent squabbles with the FBI. FBI agents led the charge against him before and after the 2016 election by promoting the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, as orchestrated by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The FBI also has been ruthlessly targeting Trump followers in cases from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, and conducted a raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate in the ongoing case of whether Trump mishandled classified documents.
The FBI also has been targeting other Trump loyalists across the country, including anti-abortion activists, parents protesting smut in school libraries and gun rights’ proponents.
Trump sparked a backlash for his support for the FBI’s new palace, as critics have called it.
On X, DeSantis swiped at Trump for not doing more to rein in the bureaucracy as he promised.
“Donald Trump failed to drain the swamp so perhaps it is not surprising that he is seeking to deepen the swamp by building a massive new FBI building in DC,” said DeSantis. “Actually draining swamp requires taking power out of DC, not cementing power inside DC.”
DeSantis followed that up at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.
“That’s part of the problem with the FBI. They’ve become overrun with DC politics — you need to take it out of DC, take power out of there,” he told voters. “That’s how you drain the swamp. Not by deepening the swamp by building multi-billion dollar headquarters inside Washington, D.C.”
Beyond that, though, other conservatives questioned Trump’s position or rationale.
“Let’s be clear, the FBI does NOT need a spectacular new building,” Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie said on X.
Keith and Kevin Hodge, who run the popular X account Hodge Twins, noted, “C’mon Trump…the last thing the FBI needs is a new building. They need to be completely dismantled and shut down for good, along with the majority of other gov agencies.”
On X, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine noted, “Sheesh. This is bad. What is Trump thinking? Rewarding the FBI is insane.”
Ian Miles Cheong, a columnist for Rebel News, said on X, “Trump wants to fund the FBI and gift them a new building in DC instead of tearing them down and splintering them to the far corners of the earth. Please tell me how he plans to ‘drain the swamp.’”
Commentator Mary Katherine Ham added on X, “Woo, grab some ice, bc (because) people are gonna absolutely pull hammies twisting themselves in knots to explain why this is awesome and what MAGA and Drain the Swamp actually means and stuff.”
Conservative journalist Stephen Miller joked on X: “Hear me out – Trump FBI Casino & Resort.”
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