Axios Sneak Peek

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1 big thing: Trump's '24 boost

Photo illustration of President Donald Trump riding on the back of an elephant
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Trump's top prospective rivals for the 2024 GOP nomination are fiercely defending him over the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago, alleging — without evidence — that he's the victim of political persecution by a rogue Biden Justice Department, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

Why it matters: At a moment when Trump's grip over the GOP has shown signs of weakening due to primary losses, the Jan. 6 committee's explosive summer hearings and the rise of a popular alternative in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the potential 2024 Republican field is suddenly coalescing around the former president.

The big picture: The outpouring of support from the likes of DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and other potential 2024 contenders underscores the tightrope that ambitious Republicans must walk in an era in which Trump is still the party's dominant force.

  • They'd love to clear Trump from the 2024 field — but also recognize they must join in the uproar to court the Trump base, which is newly energized by fresh allegations of "deep state" misconduct.
  • In supporting Trump on an issue that has — in many ways — defined his political trajectory, his party rivals are inadvertently empowering him to run.

What they're saying: DeSantis tweeted within hours of the FBI operation, slamming the "raid" in his home state as "another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents."

  • DeSantis has rallies in Phoenix and New Mexico over the weekend. His team told Axios that while the governor speaks "on the fly" and often decides what he's going to say just hours before he steps on stage, they anticipate he’ll bring up the FBI search.

Pence, who opened an irreparable rift with Trump by refusing to overturn the 2020 election on Jan. 6, expressed "deep concern" over the "unprecedented search" and used it as an opportunity to rehash allegations that the FBI acted on “political motivation” during the Trump administration.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called the search an "unprecedented assault on ... the rule of law" and demanded the removal of FBI Director Christopher Wray and the impeachment or resignation of Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Other potential 2024 GOP candidates who unleashed furious tweets or statements defending Trump and attacking the FBI include:

The other side: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), whose frequent criticism of Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection has triggered speculation of a potential 2024 campaign, does not plan to weigh in, her team told Axios.

  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told CBS News that Americans need to let the DOJ investigation "play out" before jumping to conclusions.
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the FBI search was "fair game."

What to watch: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he spoke to Trump this afternoon and is now convinced — more than ever — that the former president will run again.

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2. 💰 FBI search juices GOP fundraising

Screenshot of fundraising appeal
Screenshot via the Committee to Defeat the President

Yesterday's FBI search may have targeted Trump, but Republicans from D.C. to Kansas to California are looking to cash in on the fallout, Axios' Lachlan Markay and Andrew Solender report.

Driving the news: The unprecedented law enforcement action provided extensive fodder for political fundraising appeals all day today, with Republican operatives predicting a windfall for their candidates and committees.

Why it matters: Those appeals are sure to juice a struggling Republican small-dollar fundraising operation.

  • But they risk inflaming already sky-high tensions over a federal criminal investigation about which few details are publicly known.

What they're saying: "This is manna from Mar-a-Lago," one Republican digital operative told Axios.

  • "After months of trying to find something that can resonate with our people, this is the perfect thing to go on offense on."

Details: Trump himself is getting in on the action. His Save America joint fundraising committee blasted out emails and text messages on Monday and Tuesday with dollar asks pegged to the FBI search.

  • PACs affiliated with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also sent out fundraising texts, with McCarthy's team declaring: "This is the type of BS you see in a Third World Country!"
  • The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee both pitched donors with similarly frantic appeals, according to text message data provided by the spam screening service RoboKiller.

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3. 🤔 Strange bedfellows

Andrew Cuomo, Paul Manafort, Rod Blagojevich
From left: former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Photos: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket; Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg; Scott Olson via Getty Images

Disgraced former elected officials and political operatives came out of the woodwork today to condemn the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Lachlan writes:

  • Rod Blagojevich, the former Democratic governor of Illinois who later described himself as a "Trumpocrat," tweeted: "Targeting political leaders by a weaponized and politicized DOJ is a criminal attack on our democracy. A tragic day for ALL Americans." Blagojevich did prison time after trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.
  • Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was sentenced to federal prison in the Mueller investigation and is now selling a book titled "Political Prisoner," accused the Biden administration of carrying out "pre-dawn raids on political opponents."
  • Even former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who resigned last year amid sexual harassment allegations he continues to deny, tweeted: "DOJ must immediately explain the reason for its raid & it must be more than a search for inconsequential archives."

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4. 🏆 Parting shots: Biden's victory laps

Biden signs CHIPS act in front of the White House
Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Flanked by bipartisan lawmakers, administration officials, business leaders and other stakeholders, President Biden today signed the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act on the South Lawn of the White House.

  • "The future of the chip industry is going to be made in America," Biden declared as he celebrated a signature legislative achievement.
Biden with ambassadors from Finland and Sweden
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Hours later, Biden was joined by Sweden's Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter and Finland's Ambassador Mikko Hautala in the East Room as he signed the instruments of ratification formalizing U.S. support for the Nordic nations' accession to NATO.

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