The FBI came loaded for bear during a pre-dawn raid on former Trump associate Roger Stone’s Fort Lauderdale home, and former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy says FBI director Christopher Wray should explain the disproportionate use of force.
Show of force
Gowdy answered questions about Stone’s arrest during his debut appearance as a Fox News contributor Thursday on The Story with Martha MacCallum. As a former federal prosecutor who served as the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Gowdy was careful not to speculate on the FBI’s reasons for bringing more than two dozen agents and an armada of land and aerial vehicles to take down Stone.
For answers, Gowdy said an explanation has to come from the head of the FBI. “I think they should bring in Chris Wray,” he told MacCallum, describing the bureau chief as a “serious” individual who normally makes sound administrative decisions. Watch below:
In this instance, however, Wray may have made a serious error in judgment. The way Stone describes it, “At the crack of dawn, 29 FBI agents arrived at my home with 17 vehicles, with lights flashing, when they could have contacted my lawyer.”
Stone drew parallels between his arrest and the level of force used to capture Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. He noted that fewer Navy SEALs were used to capture and kill Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the Broward County raid “overkill,” while a former FBI agent compared it to a “pre-dawn ‘knock-and-announce’ arrest warrant of a meth lab somewhere in the United States.”
Front row seats
Conveniently, CNN producers were on the scene and in position at 5:00 a.m. to capture the entire dramatic operation. The liberal news outlet later cited “reporter’s instinct” as the force that guided them to the quiet Florida neighborhood and which gave Americans a front row seat to Stone’s arrest.
A federal judge later released Stone on his own recognizance, finding no evidence that the former Richard Nixon associate was a flight risk. As a result, Gowdy said Wray has to answer for “why the bureau thought that amount of force was necessary.”
He is joined by a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers who are questioning the FBI’s show of force in apprehending Stone. Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) have each penned letters to the FBI director asking for answers, while Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has requested an official briefing from the FBI, appeared on Fox News’s Hannity to discuss the arrest.
“The bottom line is, this seems to me over the top, and I don’t know what message was being sent,” Graham said Wednesday night. “But I personally didn’t like it. You know, I’ve been a prosecutor, a defense attorney. It seemed to be sending the wrong message, that if you cross Mueller, look what’s going to happen to you.”
“Mueller, do your job,” Graham added, “but these tactics are unacceptable given the level of threat here.”
However, Gowdy was careful to deflect blame from the special counsel. “It is not Bob Mueller’s fault,” he told MacCallum. “A prosecutor does not get to choose what weaponry to use when you effectuate an arrest.”