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HEADLINE ROUNDUP: House Oversight Republicans’ Political Games “Backfired in a Spectacular Fashion”

Feb 9, 2023

Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing to kick-start a blatant political investigation and a failed attempt to hurt President Biden and his family. Republicans on the committee used their powerful platform and resources to  threaten witnesses and spread conspiracy theories and false smears, attacking a private company in an effort to intimidate their political opponents. The MAGA committee pushed debunked claims and became increasingly aggressive towards their own witnesses as the hearing failed to produce any evidence or bombshell testimony of unlawful activity initiated by the government. It became clearer than ever that Republicans are more focused on partisan stunts than addressing the real issues facing Americans. Don’t just take our word for it:

Bloomberg: House Republicans’ Hunter Biden Investigation Begins With A Thud. “House Republicans failed in the opening salvo of their investigation into the finances of Joe Biden’s family to produce evidence substantiating their claims that U.S. intelligence officials worked with Twitter Inc. to suppress an unflattering 2020 news story on the president’s son. Former Twitter Inc. officials testified Wednesday that their decision to limit the spread of the New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s now-infamous laptop and his overseas business dealings was, in hindsight, a mistake. But they said they weren’t directed by the FBI or other U.S. intelligence officials, and the action wasn’t politically motivated. […] Some of the GOP questions were far-ranging and combative — including complaints from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene that her own personal Twitter account had been shut down after warnings. Rep. Nancy Mace focused on Twitter suppression of COVID-19 information that questioned guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘House Republicans are making it their top priority to stage a bizarre political stunt’ instead of working with Biden on issues he laid out in the State of the Union address, White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement before the hearing.” [Bloomberg, 2/8/23]

CNN: Republicans Held A Hearing To Prove Twitter’s Bias Against Them. It Backfired In Spectacular Fashion. “Republicans are living in a reality distortion field. That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from Wednesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill where GOP lawmakers continued to push a factually unsupported narrative about the federal government secretly colluding with Twitter to censor the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020. Despite no real evidence to support this weighty and consequential claim, Republicans were unrelenting in peddling it to the American public. At Wednesday’s hearing they showed no regard for misinforming those who turn to them for accurate information or the fact that they were smearing a private business and its former executives in the process. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, who seems to want to be taken seriously by the Washington elite while tossing asinine red meat to the Republican base, claimed Twitter happily followed supposed FBI instructions to censor the Hunter Biden story because they were ‘terrified of Joe Biden not winning the election.’ The unsupported claim is nothing new for him. […] By pushing the narrative that there was ‘collusion’ between Big Tech and the FBI to ‘censor’ the Post’s Hunter Biden story, Republicans are not so subtly feeding their election denying base reason to believe that the 2020 election was effectively rigged against Donald Trump.” [CNN, 2/8/23]

NBC: Why The Twitter/Hunter Biden Hearing Backfired On Republicans. “After the proceedings concluded, Trump turned to his rival social media platform to celebrate. ‘Congratulations to Congressmen James Comer, Clay Higgins, Pat Fallon, and all of the Great Republican Patriots on the House Oversight Committee,’ the former president wrote. ‘What an important and incredible job you are doing. … Hope the LameStream Media is covering this historic event!’ Either the Republican was watching something else, or he didn’t understand what he’d seen. This hearing — months in the making — did real damage to his and his party’s cause. GOP members had plenty of time to get ready for this ‘historic event,’ but they nevertheless showed up unprepared and were caught flat-footed when the hearing produced the opposite of the intended evidence. The question isn’t why the hearing backfired; the question is why Republicans didn’t see this coming. Toward the end of the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez argued that partisan operatives were effectively ‘weaponizing the use of this committee.’ It was tough to disagree: House Republicans held an oversight hearing, intending to prove government abuses. They sort of succeeded — by highlighting abuses that made Republicans look worse, not better.” [NBC, 2/9/23

Bloomberg: Trump Impeachment Veteran Debunks GOP Accusations Against Biden. “A freshman New York Democrat used evidence he acquired as the lead attorney for Donald Trump’s first impeachment to publicly debunk accusations leveled by Republicans at President Joe Biden and his family at a Wednesday hearing. […] ‘Categorically false,’ Goldman said. ‘One-hundred percent false.’ ‘Is the gentleman sure about that?’ Comer responded. Goldman reminded the committee that he’d investigated the Burisma affair as impeachment counsel. Testimony in that proceeding revealed that former President Donald Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless officials there agreed to open an investigation of the Bidens. Joe Biden, as the Obama administration’s point person on Ukraine, in 2016 pressed for the ouster of Viktor Shokin as prosecutor general. But US allies, the International Monetary Fund, and others, including many in Ukraine, wanted him gone on the grounds he was failing to pursue corruption cases. ‘That’s been proven over and over,’ Goldman said, suggesting that Comer might even talk to British authorities, because they’d been upset over the prosecutor’s inaction. The specificity of Goldman’s knowledge seemed to catch the Republicans off-guard. But Goldman suggested this was all well-known, or should have been, from Trump’s first impeachment and trial.” [Bloomberg, 2/8/23]

Rolling Stone: Twitter Kept Entire ‘Database’ Of Republican Requests To Censor Posts. “The Trump administration and its allied Republicans in Congress routinely asked Twitter to take down posts they objected to — the exact behavior that they’re claiming makes President Biden, the Democrats, and Twitter complicit in an anti-free speech conspiracy to muzzle conservatives online. ‘It was strange to me when all of these investigations were announced because it was all about the exact same stuff that we had done [when Donald Trump was in office],’ one former top aide to a senior Trump administration official tells Rolling Stone. ‘It was normal.’ In interviews with former Twitter personnel, onetime Trump administration officials, and other people familiar with the matter, each source recalled what could be described as a ‘hotline,’ ‘tipline,’ or large Twitter ‘database’ of moderation and removal requests that was frequently pinged by the offices of powerful Democrats and Republicans alike. The voluminous requests often came from high-ranking political appointees working in different departments, offices, and agencies in the Trump administration. But during both the Trump and Biden presidencies, these types of moderation requests or demands were routinely sent to Twitter by the staff of influential GOP lawmakers — ones with names like Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik.” [Rolling Stone, 2/8/23]