Panic Setting In Over Republicans’ Planned ‘Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government’
Harvard Law Prof. and MSNBC Trump Collusion Star Laurence Tribe, who never met an investigation of Republicans he didn’t love, is apoplectic, calling it a plan “to hound — er, investigate — the investigators (including those investigating the coup/insurrection leading to Jan 6)”
One of the key concessions extracted by the NeverKevins (who turned out not to be truly “never”) in allowing Kevin McCarthy to be elected Speaker of the House was a special committee in the spirit of the old Church Committee, to investigate the widescale weaponization of the federal government, often through the Department of Justice in cahoots with Big Tech, against Republicans, but particularly “MAGA” Republicans.
On December 29, 2022, Kimberley Strassel wrote in The Wall Street Journal, House Republicans Plan a Committee on Censors and Snoops:
Sources tell me that House Republicans plan to set up a panel under the House Judiciary Committee, tentatively called the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Such a panel was among the demands of some GOP holdouts to Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker. The Republican leader has publicly expressed his support for the subcommittee’s creation, which hinges on the rebels’ willingness to join the rest of their conference and back him in next Tuesday’s vote.
The committee’s title is a recognition that the recent revelations about government meddling in speech and politics go beyond the FBI. There’s plenty yet to discover about the bureau’s sordid Russia-collusion hoax, its duping of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and its efforts to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story. And a recent batch of Twitter files from journalist Matt Taibbi includes documents showing a shocking intimacy between the FBI and Twitter as they policed online speech.
But files have also shown the FBI was facilitating censorship requests from other parts of government. Add to this other disturbing government moves to use its power to silence or track citizens, whether it be Attorney General Merrick Garland’s directive to the FBI and U.S. attorneys to probe parents (after the National School Board Association suggested they might be domestic terrorists) or the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to create a Disinformation Governance Board.
The Republican Freedom Caucus succeeded in extracting the concession:
In the Proposed rules package for the new 118th Congress, the Republican Party wants to create a subcommittee to investigate law enforcement and surveillance agencies.
The pledge to form the new committee on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government” is one of the concessions the far-right Freedom Caucus is demanding of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in exchange for supporting his bid to become speaker of the House. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has cited it as a reason to support McCarthy.
Freedom Caucus members routinely rail against the FBI’s investigations of President Donald Trump and excessive domestic surveillance. The “Weaponization of the Federal Government” committee would give them power to investigate the purported abuses under the auspices of the Judiciary Committee. Freedom Caucus members said they want to model the new body after the Church Committee that ran investigations into intelligence abuses in the mid-1970s, leading to significant reforms.
The proposed Resolution establishing the subcommittee has been released. The proposed areas of investigation include ongoing criminal investigations (implicating the weaponization of the FBI and DOJ) and how federal agencies work with private entities to take action against Americans (implicating the Twitterfiles type behavior across social media and Big Tech) (emphasis added):
(A) the expansive role of Article II authority vested in the Executive Branch to collect information on or otherwise investigate citizens of the United States, including ongoing criminal investigations;
(B) how executive branch agencies work with, obtain information from, and provide information to the private sector, non-profit entities, or other government agencies to facilitate action against American citizens, including the extent, if any, to which illegal or improper, unconstitutional, or unethical activities were engaged in by the Executive Branch or private sector against citizens of the United States;
(C) how executive branch agencies collect, compile, analyze, use, or disseminate information about citizens of the United States, including any unconstitutional, illegal, or unethical activities committed against citizens of the United States;
(D) the laws, programs, and activities of the Executive Branch as they relate to the collection of information on citizens of the United States and the sources and methods used for the collection of information on citizens of the United States;
(E) any other issues related to the violation of the civil liberties of citizens of the United States; and
(F) any other matter relating to information collected pursuant to the investigation con9 ducted under this paragraph at any time during the One Hundred Eighteenth Congress.
It’s likely that Rep. Jim Jordan will be a key player:
Democrats and their supporters are apoplectic. Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, who sullied his reputation with insane Trump-deranged rantings on Twitter gaining him a big following, never met an investigation of Trump World he didn’t like. He accused Trump of being a Russian asset and Tucker Carlson of having committed treason. Once a great civil libertarian, Tribe threw his principles aside because Orange Man Bad.
We finally found an investigation Tribe doesn’t like. The investigation of the investigators planned by the new Subcommitee. Tribe complained on Twitter:
Here’s the resolution to set up a Special Subcommittee of House Judiciary to hound — er, investigate — the investigators (including those investigating the coup/insurrection leading to Jan 6)
Here’s the resolution to set up a Special Subcommittee of House Judiciary to hound — er, investigate — the investigators (including those investigating the coup/insurrection leading to Jan 6) https://t.co/Zd1QDxyW1L
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 7, 2023
Joyce Alene, a law professor at U. Alabama who also is an MSNBC commenter with a large Twitter following, was even more agressive than Tribe, seeing a set up to impeach AG Merrick Garland:
This idea of “reviewing” criminal cases in progress is really about interfering with them & it violates separation of powers. MAGA Republicans know this. They’re setting up a situation where the AG will properly refuse to provide info, which they’ll use as a pretext to impeach.
This idea of "reviewing" criminal cases in progress is really about interfering with them & it violates separation of powers. MAGA Republicans know this. They're setting up a situation where the AG will properly refuse to provide info, which they'll use as a pretext to impeach. https://t.co/fQ7E4pBjYn
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) January 7, 2023
(added) Former congressman and NeverTrump Republican David Jolly sees the end of the Republic:
With all the focus on the House rules being given away to the Freedom Caucus et al, this development below may be the most consequential – a new House Committee to attack and shred the federal government, undermining confidence for millions of Americans in our self governance.
With all the focus on the House rules being given away to the Freedom Caucus et al, this development below may be the most consequential – a new House Committee to attack and shred the federal government, undermining confidence for millions of Americans in our self governance. https://t.co/U06V3qBDVI
— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) January 7, 2023
Maybe, maybe not. One thing Democrats established in the never-ending hunt for Trump is that congressional committees have broad authority to investigate. The House J6 Committee was a shadow prosecutorial agency meant to gather up information and subpoena witnesses beyond what DOJ could have obtained in a criminal investigation. Committee subpoenas were largely upheld, and the J6 made-for-TV miniseries was one result. The other result was sending everything over to DOJ on a criminal referral (of dubious legitimacy) that put in the hands of the FBI and DOJ evidence they never could have obtained on their own.
Depending on who and what is subpoeanaed, I could see the subcommittee running into trouble. I can’t imagine they would be able to call in for testimony federal line prosecutors and quiz them about their legal strategy in a particular case. But the subcommitee could demand broad information and testimony as part of their oversight function. And as to past conduct in closed criminal cases, or in matters involving social media and big tech that are not criminal prosecutions, the subcomittee will have broad authority.
Democrats weaponized their committees as part of a broader weaponization of the federal government against political opponents. Those precedents will be used against them. Full steam ahead.DONATE
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