Democrats target House Republicans in swing seats over FBI remark on Trump ‘reimbursement’

House Democrats are launching a poster campaign this week focused on swing-seat Republicans seeking to turn the tide on attacks on the “defund the police” slogan used by some progressive activists and lawmakers.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) billboards, shared first with ABC News, will target a dozen incumbents on an April social media post by former President Donald Trump calling on Republicans of the Room to “finance the [Justice Department] and the FBI until they come to their senses.”

The new Democratic billboards, which are the result of a five-figure investment, will all be up by Wednesday before drivers hit the road for Memorial Day weekend and accuse Republicans of to be “silent” after Trump’s message.

The 12 lawmakers, who represent the districts President Joe Biden won in 2020, had yet to respond to a Punchbowl News survey seeking reactions to Trump’s comment.

His post came as he faced legal threats in several cases related to his actions around the January 6, 2021, uprising and his efforts to reverse his 2020 election defeat, as well as his possession of classified documents after leaving the White House, hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and more.

Trump has increasingly criticized federal law enforcement for what he claims are politicized investigations against him. He denied any wrongdoing.

Last year, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed an independent prosecutor, Jack Smith, to oversee Justice Department investigations of Trump in light of Trump’s bid for the White House.

“Such an appointment underscores the department’s commitment to independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” Garland said at the time.

The targeted lawmakers are Representatives Juan Ciscomani and David Schweikert of Arizona; John Duarte, Mike Garcia, Michelle Steel and David Valadao of California; Tom Kean Jr. of New Jersey; Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler and George Santos of New York; Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; and Jen Kiggans from Virginia.

A campaign billboard targeting vulnerable Republicans, created by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, May 22, 2023.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

“Vulnerable House Republicans — who repeatedly attempt to cast themselves as pro-public-safety moderates — have shamelessly refused to condemn the twice-impeached and criminally charged former president’s call to withdraw funding law enforcement that keep our communities going These House Republicans have put party politics above public safety — and we won’t let Americans forget,” said the DCCC spokesperson, Justin Chermol, in a press release.

Republicans, for their part, continued to hit Democratic stances on enforcement, pointing to a resolution many House Democrats voted against last week that would have denounced “calls to defund, dissolve, dismantle or abolish the police”.

“Americans had never heard the term ‘defund the police’ until the extreme Democrats in the House shouted it from the top of the mountains and adopted it as a party platform. They realized that their radical policies are a serious political handicap and continue to desperately deviate from their position of condemnation of law enforcement and public safety – including last Friday,” said Will Reinert, spokesman for the Republican National Committee of Congress.

The billboards mark the latest pushback by Democrats from attacks on crime, which has long been a political sore point for their party.

For years, Republicans have highlighted a call among progressives to “defund” or reallocate police funding — hammering Democrats more broadly for, in their own words, being soft on crime, even if Leading Democrats like President Joe Biden have repeatedly rejected the “defund” label.

Strategists believe that effort paid off in places like New York, where Republicans had unexpected success in House races last year while struggling elsewhere in the country at midterm.

Democrats have tried to overturn criticism on crime before, including pointing the finger at Republicans who voted against bills passed in 2021 that added funding to local police departments.

Some Republicans like Trump’s ally, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, have doubled down on Trump’s call to defund aspects of federal law enforcement, saying the House would review their funding and cast the probes on the former president as being politically motivated.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in the spring that he would move a resolution condemning Trump’s remark.

“Where will they stand – with the former president’s dangerous call to cut federal law enforcement funding or with the American people wanting to be safe?” Schumer asked in a floor speech in April.

ABC News

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