Grassley says calls to defund the FBI are ‘stupid’

By: - September 15, 2023 6:44 pm

Sen. Chuck Grassley appeared on “Iowa Press” on Sept. 15, 2023. (Screenshot via Iowa PBS)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Friday that Republican calls to shut down and defund the FBI were “stupid,” though he shared concerns about “political bias” in the agency.

Many Republicans, including U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida and 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, have rallied against the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice in the past year, saying the federal entities were targeting former President Donald Trump.

The FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach for classified documents in 2022 — documents that served as evidence in indictment of Trump on criminal charges that include violations of the Espionage Act, withholding documents and records, and making false statements to investigators.

Grassley pushed back against the idea of defunding the FBI during while recording “Iowa Press” at Iowa PBS.

“Anybody that takes that position is stupid for saying it,” Grassley said. “We’ve got to have an FBI. And secondly, as Republicans, … For the last three or four years, we’ve been making fun of the Democrats wanting to defund the police. It’s the same thing. You can’t defund — we don’t want to defund the police. You can’t defund the FBI.”

Though he does not agree with defunding the agency, the longtime Republican senator said he believes there has been “too much political bias” in the Justice Department and FBI for the past eight years.

But Grassley said people should not view the House impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden, or the federal indictment of his son Hunter Biden, as retaliation by conservatives.

“It shouldn’t be seen as bringing balance to it,” Grassley said. “There should be balance all the time. There shouldn’t be two levels of justice. That’s why the statute over the Supreme Court is blindfolded, because we’re going to be looking at the facts and not the personality or the political persuasion of the person. And I think I hear that concern all the time from Iowans.”

Grassley clashed with the FBI in August, releasing a lightly redacted document of a tip to the FBI alleging the Biden family received funds from the CEO of a Ukrainian energy company. The claims have not been substantiated, and the document does not detail which Biden family member received payments.

The Iowa senator said the “FBI sought to obfuscate and redact” the criminal bribery scheme allegations. But the FBI said in a statement that Grassley releasing the document “at a minimum — unnecessarily risks the safety of a confidential source.”

Grassley said that in the House inquiry, he expects to see more political bias revealed in interviews with FBI agents. However, he emphasized that these problems do not mean he would support shutting down the agency.

“I want to follow up and say that obviously things aren’t right with the FBI from my point of view,” Grassley said. “But you don’t defund the FBI to make that point. You reform the FBI.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.