DeSantis vows to fire any FBI agent who harasses pro-life activists if elected president

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, July 14, 2023.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, July 14, 2023. | Screengrab: YouTube/BlazeTV

Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to fire any Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who harasses a pro-life activist if elected in 2024.

In an interview with former Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson at the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, DeSantis was asked about holding federal government employees accountable for their actions.

DeSantis replied that there are “levers that you can pull” to have accountability in the federal government, adding that “I think we can fire” any federal bureaucrat who acts badly.

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“If we have an FBI agent going to harass a pro-life activist like they did Mark Houck and send a SWAT team, I’d fire them immediately,” he declared, receiving applause.  

“When you have FBI colluding with big tech to censor dissent, I would fire those people. Had I been president [in] 2020, Anthony Fauci would have been fired. And you’ve got to be willing to do it.”

Last September, the FBI garnered criticism when it allegedly sent a 20-member SWAT team to arrest Houck on two charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act due to an incident that occurred outside an abortion clinic in Pennsylvania that he and his then 12-year-old son were protesting across the street from in 2021.

Houck, a Catholic pro-life advocate and father of seven who faced 11 years in prison, was found not guilty in January of a federal violation related to an encounter with a Planned Parenthood clinic escort in Philadelphia. 

For its part, the FBI denied that it sent a SWAT team to arrest the pro-life activist, telling Fox News in a statement that there were “inaccurate claims being made regarding the arrest of Mark Houck.”

“No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved. FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck's front door, identified themselves as FBI agents and asked him to exit the residence,” stated an FBI spokesperson. “He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment.”

During his remarks, DeSantis championed his state’s record on the abortion issue, with the governor having recently signed a bill that bans most abortions after six weeks into a pregnancy.

When Carlson asked him if would sign a similar law at the federal level, DeSantis said he would “sign pro-life legislation,” but felt that “a culture of life” needed to be developed before he could enact such a law nationally.

“As president, I will be somebody who will use the bully pulpit to support governors like [Iowa Gov.] Kim Reynolds when she’s got a bill, other states as they advance the cause of life,” he said. “It is a critical issue.”

DeSantis also joked that, when it comes to going against the liberal Democrat establishment in 2024, he welcomed the opportunity to compare and contrast Florida with the likes of California.

“I’m very confident that the freedom in Florida is what more people would choose rather than the public defecation on the streets of San Francisco,” he quipped.

DeSantis was one of many Republican presidential candidates who Carlson interviewed on Friday at the Summit event, which was co-hosted by Glenn Beck’s Blaze Media.

Other candidates who spoke with Carlson included former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and businessman and author Vivek Ramaswamy.

In addition to the candidate interviews, the Summit also featured Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signing a state law banning most abortions when a baby's heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.

“All life is precious and worthy of the protection of our laws,” Reynolds told those gathered, shortly before she signed the law. “Everyone understands that a heartbeat signifies life, and we understand that when it falls silent, something precious has been lost.”

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