WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on his fellow Republicans in Congress to slash funding for the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, one day after pleading not guilty in New York to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
Trump, who is seeking to regain the presidency in 2024, took aim at federal law enforcement authorities even though the historic criminal charges against him – the first brought against any former or sitting president – were pursued by the Manhattan district attorney.
“REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS SHOULD DEFUND THE DOJ AND FBI UNTIL THEY COME TO THEIR SENSES,” Trump wrote on his social media platform. DOJ stands for the Department of Justice.
Trump’s proposal would be a sharp turn for Republicans, who in the past have supported robust funding for law enforcement and have criticized proposals from some on the left in recent years to “defund” local police departments.
The FBI, part of the Justice Department, is the U.S. domestic intelligence and security agency. Trump himself appointed the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, after firing its previous chief, James Comey, in 2017.
Trump backed spending increases for the Justice Department while serving as president from 2017 to 2021. Its budget increased 4% during that span to $38.7 billion, White House figures showed.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has asked Congress in his budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 for about $50 billion in funding for the Justice Department, an increase over current levels.
Trump faces two Justice Department criminal investigations led by a special counsel appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. One focuses on efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election that he lost to Biden. The other focuses on classified documents that Trump retained after leaving office.
Congress appears unlikely to follow through on Trump’s demand. Republicans control the House of Representatives and Democrats control the Senate. Republicans have called for sharp federal spending cuts in return for voting to raise the U.S. debt ceiling but have yet to put forward specific proposals.
The FBI on Wednesday declined to comment on Trump’s remarks. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.