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HEADLINE ROUNDUP: “Already Imploding”: Yet Another Disastrous Week For the House GOP

Mar 10, 2023

This week, MAGA Republicans showed how little they care about the issues keeping Americans up at night. Jim Jordan and James Comer continued to run a political stunt-filled circus, spreading conspiracy theories and lies about the so-called “weaponization” of government and federal law enforcement. After inviting extreme right-wing witnesses (including one praised by the KKK), defending violent extremism, airing old grievances, and trying to rehash past elections, they have utterly failed to prove anything and their investigations lack credibility entirely. House Republicans have been focusing their taxpayer-funded platform on conducting political stunts rather than addressing the real issues facing the American people. But don’t just take our word for it:

Punchbowl News: Tensions Rise Over Comer’s Oversight. “House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) is on a quest to prove himself as the kingpin of GOP investigations. Not everyone is happy about it. In a little more than two months as chair, Comer has launched a barrage of probes into everything from the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan to Ukraine aid to the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. This week alone, the Oversight Committee held seven hearings. These sessions covered the origin of COVID-19, the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, AI advances, oversight of the Office of Personnel Management, inflation and pandemic spending. A hearing on the Biden family’s business dealings was postponed. It’s an ambitious workload commensurate with Comer’s desire to hold the Biden administration accountable. Comer and his allies insist the range of investigations are well within their marching orders. But some GOP members and aides have expressed concerns that the Kentucky Republican may be spreading himself too thin and inserting his committee into other panels’ business. […] ‘There’s a big difference between oversight where you have expertise and oversight to churn out press releases,’ a House GOP aide said of Comer. ‘Everyone thought he’d learn from prior chairmen and work in a more coordinated way. It’s been quite the opposite.’” [Punchbowl News, 3/10/23]

Washington Post: Jordan’s Weaponization-Panel Game Plan Draws Critique From Some On The Right. “But two months into the Republican majority in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is facing growing frustrations over how he’s conducted that panel’s business thus far. Some leaders in hard-right intellectual circles have critiqued the initial work of the subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government as lackluster and unfocused, and some Republican lawmakers have privately raised concerns. Critics say the committee has been too slow to staff up, insufficiently aggressive in issuing subpoenas for interviews and testimony, and lacking in substance. […] The frustrations reached critical mass ahead of a Thursday hearing — the subcommittee’s second — featuring testimony from people who were given access to Twitter’s internal communications that Republicans allege show the suppression of right-wing viewpoints on the platform. […] ‘There is a feeling right now that this will simply be a Fox News clip generator — this really needs to be a comprehensive, well-resourced examination of the security state,’ said a person familiar with the committee’s operations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. ‘It can’t be a way for members to get three- to five-minute hits on the Sean Hannity show. If they want this to be real, it has to be done right.’” [Washington Post, 3/10/23]

The Bulwark: Jim Jordan’s Weaponization Subcommittee Keeps Firing Blanks. “Jim Jordan’s premise as chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government is apparent: If at first you don’t succeed with political stunts dressed up as ‘investigations,’ change the subject and try again. After an initial February 9 hearing airing old grievances, yesterday Jordan tried what had already backfired for his fellow MAGA committee chair James Comer: a disproven claim that the FBI had censored a Twitter story about Hunter Biden. But, once again, Jordan’s investigative weapon was loaded with blanks. And he was hunting dead game anyway.” [The Bulwark, 3/10/23]

Business Insider: MAGA Desperately Needs Competent Oppo Researchers, Because Trump’s Current Cheerleaders Keep Fragging The Home Team. “With friends like these, former President Donald Trump might do better with better-informed enemies. MAGA-faithful Reps. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene have both inadvertently slammed the Trump administration in recent weeks while trying to take shots at President Joe Biden. Rep. Matt Gaetz, meanwhile, got schooled for unknowingly basing a critique of Biden’s policies on a Communist newspaper. Boebert, of Colorado, was the latest to seemingly undermine the Trump team — and feed Democrats’ memes — during an Oversight Committee hearing Thursday on the Office of Personnel Management. She questioned OPM Director Kiran Ahuja about ‘more than 25 percent of federal employees not logging into work’ while teleworking, but Ahuja said she took issue with the characterization. ‘It’s in this leaked document, right here, that we just submitted into the record,’ Boebert said, challenging her. Ahuja responded, ‘You’re basing that from 2020, which is in the last administration and I can’t speak to that.’” [Business Insider, 3/9/23]

The Economist: America’s Government Has Not Been “Weaponised.” “If you set out to crystallise what is self-defeating and immiserating—yet, admittedly, also kind of funny—about American politics and governance, you might come up with something quite like the Congressional Committee for the Spelunking of Rabbit Holes (technically operating under a less precise name, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponisation of the Federal Government). […] Even Mr Jordan’s fellow spelunkers posed a problem for him. Each vanished down a rabbit hole of their choosing, often popping out of yet another one: The Twitter Files, Russiagate, the fisa court, investigations of uproar at school boards, Hunter Biden’s laptop, Anthony Fauci, the surveillance state—a litany implicating just about every acronym from the atf to the fta. Each theory would require dizzying explanation for the blessedly uninitiated.” [The Economist, 3/9/23]

Washington Post: The Holes In Jim Jordan’s Convoluted ‘Weaponization’ Theory. “The new House GOP majority’s early oversight and inquiries into the ‘weaponization of the federal government’ have thus far included plenty of supposition and elaborate theorizing — even as that has often run afoul of the known facts. Those tactics proceeded apace Thursday, at the very start of the latest hearing of the House’s new ‘weaponization’ subcommittee. Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) began the Twitter-focused hearing by again gesturing in the direction of an elaborate alleged government conspiracy to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story. (We’ve dealt with previous versions before.) But Jordan’s summary ignored key events, and it is contradicted by sworn testimony previously delivered by two key witnesses — including one who was responding to questions from Jordan himself. [Washington Post, 3/9/23]

Esquire: House “Weaponization” Subcommittee Shows What Happens When One Bad-Faith Exercise Pokes Another. “Jim Jordan reloaded his 155mm Howitzer of Stupid on Thursday. The topic for the day was The Twitter Files, and the star witnesses du jour were journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, to whom the massive document dump was delivered by Someone Requesting Anonymity. Quite frankly, it was one of the saddest spectacles I ever have watched on C-SPAN, and that includes several state funerals. Here is a partial list of a few of the things I did not need to see: […] Jordan behaving like an ill-tempered substitute teacher with the mother of all hangovers. I appreciate that Jordan was born a colossal jerk and can’t do anything about that, but nobody forced him to refine the character so thoroughly, either. Right from jump, Jordan made it clear this was his circus, and he wasn’t going to take any guff from any uppity co-stars. […] Very, very sad.” [Esquire, 3/9/23]

NBC News (Opinion): The House GOP’s ‘Weaponization’ Subcommittee Is Already Imploding. “There’s a reason why in most actual investigations, at least some fact-finding is done first. And those doing the digging are usually careful to leave themselves wiggle-room for some unforeseen development. That’s the exact opposite of what Jordan has been doing, which Axios aptly described as ‘a tendency to make statements first and hope his investigative work will back them up.’ That has in turn produced pressure for results from the base and right-wing media hosts who need more grist for their mill. Now that the GOP is in power, they ask, why aren’t the promised heads rolling? ‘Make me feel better, guys,’ Fox News’ Jesse Watters said last month, just weeks after the new Congress was gaveled in. ‘Tell me this is going somewhere. Can I throw someone in prison? Can someone go to jail? Can someone get fined?’ Instead, what we’ve seen so far has been amateur hour at best. The first hearing of the subcommittee, held in early February, boiled down to a laundry list of grievances from current and former politicians followed by a very unconvincing panel of witnesses, including two FBI agents who testified that the vibes in the bureau were off before they resigned. Jordan claimed that his staffers have spoken to ‘dozens’ of FBI whistleblowers but refused to name any when challenged. Even Fox News cut away from what was supposed to be the opening salvo of a brutal attack on liberal injustice.” [NBC News, 3/9/23]

Axios: Jim Jordan Scrambles Amid Claims ‘Weaponization’ Probe Is A Dud. “Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — facing criticism that his probe of alleged mistreatment of conservatives by ‘weaponized’ U.S. agencies has moved too slowly and found little — is threatening to subpoena 16 more witnesses from the FBI. Why it matters: Jordan is under increasing pressure from disappointed Republicans who want results — and from Democrats who say his investigation is being exposed as a sham. The big picture: Critics say Jordan has been hampered by his off-the-cuff style, lack of structure and separation between Judiciary and its ‘weaponization’ subcommittee — and a tendency to make statements first and hope his investigative work will back them up. By choosing to lead both Judiciary and its weaponization panel, Jordan forced his small circle of five close advisers to work on at least a dozen probes simultaneously, according to an Axios analysis of oversight requests sent by Jordan this Congress.” [Axios, 3/7/23]

Talking Points Memo: House Oversight Chair Calls It A ‘Mistake’ That US Didn’t Bomb Mexico During Trump Administration. “House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) said Tuesday morning that it was a ‘mistake’ that the administration didn’t go through with bombing drug labs in Mexico after then-President Donald Trump suggested it in 2020. ‘One of the things we learned post-Trump presidency is that he had ordered a bombing of a couple of fentanyl labs, crystal meth labs, in Mexico, just across the border and for whatever reason the military didn’t do it,’ he said on Fox News. ‘I think that was a mistake.’ That Trump suggested bombing the United States’ southern neighbor and ally was revealed in former Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s book, ‘A Sacred Oath,’ last year. Esper relayed that Trump thought such an act of war could be performed discreetly.” [Talking Points Memo, 3/7/23]

The Independent (UK): Oversight Committee Republicans Won’t Sign Democrats’ Letter Denouncing White Supremacy. “Democratic members on the House Oversight Committee asked their Republican colleagues to sign a two-sentence statement that plainly rejects white supremacy, white nationalism, and a far-right conspiracy theory that suggests politicians are intentionally seeking to displace white Americans by loosening immigration. All 26 Republicans on the GOP-led committee have signaled that they will not sign the statement, which a committee spokesperson characterized in a statement to The Independent as a distraction. An accompanying letter from by the committee’s top Democrat, US Rep Jamie Raskin, argued that ‘dangerous and conspiratorial rhetoric echoing the racist and nativist tropes peddled by white supremacists and right-wing extremists’ was invoked by committee Republicans during recent hearings on immigration policy and the US-Mexico border. The letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post, does not name specific lawmakers, but it references comments made by GOP members including Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Chip Roy referring to immigration as an ‘invasion,’ and Paul Gosar asking whether Democratic border policy is ‘changing our culture.’” [The Independent (UK), 3/7/23]

NBC News (Opinion): Jim Jordan Pretends His ‘Weaponization’ Committee Still Has Merit. “For the GOP members behind the ‘weaponization’ panel, things went from bad to worse on Thursday night: The New York Times reported that the FBI whistleblowers whom Jordan had spent months touting had spoken privately to the committee — and they were literally unbelievable. […] All of this reached the public in Friday morning’s edition of the newspaper. Other news organizations ran a series of related reports. And yet, on Friday night, there was Jordan chatting with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, as if nothing had happened. ‘People don’t say this enough, but we appreciate what you do, every single night bringing the truth to the American people,’ the Judiciary Committee chairman said, ignoring both the unraveling of his ‘weaponization’ gambit and the host’s own scandal.” [NBC News (Opinion), 3/6/23]

The Hill (Opinion): House Republicans’ Inauspicious Start To ‘Benghazi 2.0’. “The record, however, suggests that Jordan is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle. Jordan was a ringleader in two Obama-era investigations. One looked into charges that the IRS was targeting conservative non-profits; it fizzled when it was revealed the agency was targeting both conservative and liberal non-profits for stretching the tax laws with their political activities. Jordan also was one of the loudest voices on the Benghazi inquest, which sought to blame then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the death of four Americans at the hands of Libyan terrorists. It was a dud. This may be worse.” [The Hill (Opinion), 3/5/23]