Fact Check: Did Ron DeSantis Defend FBI Raid Of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Home?

The FBI raid of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence quickly invoked the ire of Republican lawmakers and sympathizers, with calls to "defund" or abolish the bureau altogether, following the search of the Florida property.

Allies like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Madison Cawthorn and Rand Paul have each made dramatic statements slamming the investigation, echoing Trump's own condemnation.

The DOJ has since unsealed the Mar-a-Lago search warrant citing grounds related to the "retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material."

But, irrespective of how the case develops, the outcry can also make ripe material for parody and misinformation too, no matter the side of political discourse it's mined from.

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A clip that went viral on Twitter appears to show Florida governor Ron DeSantis defending the FBI's raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence. Pictured here, Trump greets DeSantis during a campaign rally at the Hertz Arena on October 31, 2018 in Estero, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Claim

A video posted on Twitter on August 13, 2022, appears to show Florida governor Ron DeSantis arguing with Sean Hannity and Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, about the FBI raid.

The tweet, which has received more than 50,000 engagements, stated "Ron DeSantis went on Hannity and things got SPICY."

In the clip Hannity says: "When this raid happened and it was a raid..."

DeSantis then appears to respond "It's not a raid, with all due respect..." later stating "It was not a raid, they were serving valid process, in accordance with the laws and constitution of the United States and the state of Florida."

The Facts

While Fox News has given airtime to pundits openly criticizing the FBI's actions at Mar-a-Lago, not all of its coverage has been supportive of Trump.

Anchor Eric Shawn, for instance, floated the possibility that Trump may have tried to "sell" classified documents to Russia or Saudi Arabia.

Fellow anchor Bret Baier also refuted unevidenced claims made by the former president that Barack Obama had mishandled 33 million documents, including classified materials, which the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has since dismissed as false.

However, the video on Twitter of DeSantis defending the search of Mar-a-Lago on Fox News, is not authentic.

The clip is edited to make it look like an episode of the Sean Hannity show, when it is, in fact, two videos spliced together.

There are some clear signs of manipulation, including footage of Hannity looping back and forth while Trump and DeSantis are talking, and DeSantis freezing in position.

The footage of DeSantis also does not look like it is shot in the usual interview style either, instead sat to the side, in a non-studio setting, looking away from the camera.

As these telltale signs of digital manipulation suggest, the video from DeSantis is not related to the Trump raid; it is in fact sourced from a 2020 interview, in which DeSantis discussed the raid on the former Florida Department of Health data scientist Rebekah Jones' home.

Jones had her home searched in 2020 following allegations that she improperly accessed a state-wide government messaging system.

DeSantis, speaking at a mental health roundtable in Tampa the same year, responded to a reporter's question about the search.

DeSantis said: "It's not a raid. I'm not gonna let you get away with it. These people did their jobs. They've been smeared as the Gestapo for doing their jobs."

This response was then edited by someone into the video featuring Lara Trump and Hannity discussing the Mar-a-Lago search.

In reality, DeSantis, who many see as Trump's most formidable challenger for the GOP nomination to run in 2024, has publicly criticized the raid on Mar-a-Lago, calling it "another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents."

The footage of Lara Trump and Sean Hannity was taken from the following Fox News interview which was posted on Lara Trump's Facebook page on 10 August, 2022.

74K views, 4K likes, 78 loves, 1K comments, 999 shares, Facebook Watch Videos from Lara Trump: Joe Biden KNEW! Sean Hannity Fox News

In the case of the video on Twitter, footage of journalist Ari Fleischer (who was also on the show with Trump and Hannity) was simply swapped with the DeSantis clip from 2020.

Responding to a comment request, a DeSantis representative confirmed that the "clip is fake," and thanked Newsweek for debunking it.

The Twitter account that posted the video also tweeted a short time later that it was "not real."

Nonetheless, Hannity tweeted that the video, which has been flagged by Twitter as "Manipulated media" should be taken off the platform.

Nevertheless, the spliced video was shared widely, including by accounts that targeted Fox News, which had recently aired a digitally altered photo of Jeffrey Epstein and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell, with the former's face replaced with that of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant magistrate.

The magistrate, Judge Bruce Reinhart, signed the warrant authorizing an FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence and has since become the subject of furious criticism from some of Trump's supporters.

The Fox News host has since published a retraction, saying that the altered images was a meme shown in "jest" by the host, Brian Kilmeade.

But it drew the ire of social media uses who accused it of hypocrisy after Hannity's "fake news" tweet. Similar cases of footage spliced together for satirical purposes have emerged in the fallout from the raid, including a Daily Show video juxtaposing conservatives' reactions to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails, and to the Trump property raid.

Newsweek has reached out to Fox News for comment.

Update: 08/15/2022 2:50 a.m. ET: The story was updated to include a comment from a Ron DeSantis representative.

The Ruling

Fact Check - False


The video is manipulated, combining a conversation between Lara Trump and Sean Hannity on Fox News with old footage of Ron DeSantis from 2020. While the clip, shared on Twitter, has been flagged by its creator as edited, Hannity has called for it to be taken off the social media platform entirely.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team