EXCLUSIVE — A group of Republican Study Committee members led by Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN) discussed the GOP’s plans to investigate the FBI’s raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence during a dinner meeting with the 45th president in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Tuesday evening.
The gathering comes just one day after the federal agents executed a search warrant of Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, home and resort as part of its investigation into his handling of presidential records. The search sparked sharp backlash from GOP lawmakers, who allege the raid was politically motivated and accused Democrats of weaponizing government agencies to target political opponents. Democrats have vehemently denied that the raid was politically motivated.
Banks, one of Trump’s most vocal allies in the lower chamber, said the former president was “fired up” about the raid, with GOP lawmakers in attendance assuring that the party will take extensive action if they take back the majority as expected in November.
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“President Trump was fired up, and so are House Republicans to stand with him and fight back against the corrupt Biden administration,” Banks told the Washington Examiner in an interview following the meeting.
“When we get the majority back, we’re going to be ready to go — everything from holding hearings and hauling [Attorney General] Merrick Garland and [FBI Director] Christopher Wray and others before the Judiciary Committee, Oversight Committee, and other committees to hold those accountable in the Biden administration who have abused their power,” he added. “That’s where we have to begin.”
“House Republicans are focused on oversight and accountability — we largely encouraged him, and he largely encouraged us,” Banks said.
The unprecedented FBI search has led a number of Trump allies to encourage the former president to swiftly launch a 2024 presidential bid despite some critics voicing concerns about him hopping into the race ahead of the midterm elections, though proponents argue the base is energized due to what they argue was a government overreach.
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While Trump has not announced his decision, Banks said the former president told the group “he’s made up his mind, and everybody in our group encouraged him to run — and the sooner, the better.”
Banks, who is running for House majority whip should the GOP take back control of the lower chamber, said the group engaged in conversation on the state of play in the midterm elections and policy plans for the next Congress.
“The president asked questions about a lot of different races, a lot of states — he’s very engaged in what’s going on and in every state,” he said. “Obviously, he gets involved in a number of Republican primaries. There’s no more powerful endorsement in American politics than Donald Trump’s endorsement.”
And while Trump has not endorsed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker after the latter decided to pull all Republicans from the Jan. 6 select committee, Banks said Trump was “very favorable” about the California Republican’s leadership during the dinner.
The RSC, a conservative caucus that has brought in multiple 2024 contenders to speak over the past year and a half, has met with Trump multiple times since Banks took the helm of the group.
“President Trump has been gracious to host RSC now a number of times. He’s very engaged in what we’re doing, he knows that we’re fighting for his agenda, his record, and he’s a big part of what RSC has done the last couple of years,” Banks said. “So it’s great to give him an update and talk about where we go from here.”