DeSantis pledges he would 'clean house' at the FBI as president in response to Durham report

  • Special counsel John Durham slammed the FBI over its Trump-Russia investigation in a new report.

  • DeSantis said the report showed "I was right," because he'd defended Trump as a US congressman.

  • "What I would do is clean house top to bottom in these agencies," he said of the FBI and others.

US law enforcement agencies would see an overhaul under DeSantis administration, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.

"What I would do is clean house top to bottom in these agencies," the Republican governor said Tuesday when asked how he would respond to the newly released special counsel report that concluded the FBI had no basis for investigating former President Donald Trump's links to Russia. "Why don't we have change at the FBI?"

The report was published Monday and overseen by Special Counsel John Durham — who was appointed by former President Trump's attorney general Bill Barr — and was the conclusion of a four-yearlong investigation into the 2016 election.

The report has inflamed concerns by Republicans, including DeSantis, that members of the FBI acted to undermine Trump time in the White House and to cast doubt on his 2016 win against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

As a US Congressman representing a district that included Florida's St. John's County, DeSantis frequently defended Trump on Fox News against what he called the "Russia collusion hoax." He even filed an amendment in 2017 to end the probe.

Trump, who ended up endorsing DeSantis for governor in 2018 and helped him win the GOP nomination, often cites DeSantis' defense of him as one of the reasons the two were allies.

Now, DeSantis is likely to be the lead rival against Trump for the 2024 nomination, as soon as he formally announces his candidacy.

"I was right," DeSantis said about the Russia investigation in Lighthouse Point, Florida, on Tuesday. He accused investigators of "trying to kneecap an administration" and of conducting a "massive abuse of power."

DeSantis added that he'd had positive experiences with law enforcement agencies when he was in the US Navy and as a prosecutor.

"I thought they were professional," he said. "But to see the lack of accountability and the gross abuse of power, it changed how I view this whole apparatus going forward."

Trump, too, has said if reelected he intends to make it easier to purge civil servants at federal agencies, Axios reported. "The deep state must and will be brought to heel," he said at a South Carolina rally.

The FBI opened its investigation in July 2016 and Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over in 2017. Two years later, Mueller didn't find sufficient evidence to charge anyone from Trump's campaign with conspiracy to influence the election.

DeSantis said that not enough people had been held accountable over the matter. Durham charged three defendants over the course of the investigation. Two were acquitted and the third pleaded guilty in exchange for avoiding prison time.

The law "does not always make a person's bad judgment, even horribly bad judgment, standing alone, a crime," Durham wrote in his report, which spanned over 300 pages.

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