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HEADLINE ROUNDUP: The MAGA House’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Feb 10, 2023

This week, MAGA Republicans showed how little they care about actually governing. The contrast couldn’t have been made clearer during Tuesday’s State of the Union, as President Biden laid out his plans to actually help Americans while Republicans jeered and booed. The week of disastrous hearings that followed drove the point home, culminating with yesterday’s so-called Weaponization of Government Subcommittee hearing. Jim Jordan and Republicans continued their political stunt-filled circus, spreading conspiracy theories and lies. MAGA Republicans spent their first hearing defending violent extremism, airing old grievances, and even trying to rehash the 2016 Presidential election—utterly failing to prove any so-called “weaponization” of the federal government. They only used their partisan committee to spread conspiracy theories, sow disinformation, and lie. Above all, this political circus showed that House Republicans don’t care about the real issues facing Americans. But don’t just take our word for it:

NBC: House Committee On ‘Weaponization’ Of Government Kicks Off With Airing Of Grievances. “The House’s new subcommittee dedicated to probing the so-called weaponization of the federal government held its first hearing Thursday. The hearing featured a litany of Republican criticisms of Democrats, government and Big Tech that have featured prominently in conservative media over the last several years, from alleged censorship of the right to cancel culture, and from a Department of Justice memo on threats against school boards to re-litigating which party fell prey to Russian disinformation in 2016. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in his opening statement that the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government will hold more public hearings in the future and take transcribed interviews from experts, government officials, members of the media, FBI whistleblowers and ‘Americans who’ve been targeted by their government’ in its investigation. The panel is required to submit a final report to the House on its findings by Jan. 2, 2025, and, according to Jordan, it will also propose legislation ‘that will help protect the American people.’ The partisan hearing largely consisted of Democrats and Republicans asking friendly witnesses favorable questions that reinforced their views. Republicans suggested the government has been unfairly weaponized against conservatives, while Democrats argued that the committee itself was an example of improper weaponization of government, continuing a pattern begun under former President Donald Trump and his administration of using the levers of power to target political opponents.” [NBC, 2/9/23]

Washington Post (Opinion): The Republican Clown-Car Caucus Is Undermining Itself. “Already, it is safe to say that the brand-new House Republican majority is off to an awful, abysmal, amateurish and appalling start. And those are just the applicable adjectives that begin with the letter A. […] I will posit that every day Republicans spend trying to convince voters that the FBI is part of some global, hydra-headed, Bond-villain leftist cabal is a good day for the Democratic Party. I can think of ways House Republicans could more profitably go about trying to highlight mistakes or shortcomings of the Biden administration. I suspect that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can, too. But McCarthy owes his job to the MAGA extremists in his caucus, so the GOP majority’s one chance to make a first impression is being squandered on conspiracy theories and personal grievances. […] Right now, we have one center-left political party — the Democrats — and one flaming hot mess of ego, resentment and paranoia. It’s going to be a long two years.” [Washington Post, 2/9/23]

Newsweek: Republicans’ Big Hopes For Attacking Joe Biden Spectacularly Unraveled. “The new House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government appeared to be off to a rough start for the Republican majority on Thursday. The panel is a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, both of which are chaired by Republican Representative Jim Jordan, and is part of a wider GOP push to investigate President Joe Biden’s administration. Democrats on the panel took some witnesses to task, while Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin testified as a minority witness and criticized the committee as well as former President Donald Trump. Raskin told the panel ‘the weaponized MAGA campaign isn’t exactly partisan, it is entirely political, because it’s got an overriding electoral focus and you know what it is. It’s all about restoring Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president to the office he lost by seven million votes in 2020 and tried to steal back in a political coup and violent insurrection against our constitutional order on January 6, 2021,’ he said. […] The first hearing of the subcommittee has been met with criticism and some mockery.” [Newsweek, 2/10/23]

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]

New York Times: Investigating ‘Weaponization’ of Government, G.O.P. Airs Old Grievances. “When hard-right Republicans extracted concessions from Speaker Kevin McCarthy in exchange for supporting his election last month, one of their top demands was that he robustly fund and give sweeping jurisdiction to a special subcommittee to investigate their claims of pervasive bias in the federal government against conservatives. But the first public hearing of the new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government produced little to no new evidence about government misconduct or targeting of the right, instead serving mostly as a forum to relitigate old grievances about how former President Donald J. Trump and others have been treated by federal law enforcement officials, Democrats and the news media. Events were resurfaced from 2016 news cycles that still anger Mr. Trump. The name of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and a favorite target of the right, was repeatedly invoked. There was sinister talk of destructive forces on the left that Republicans said held undue influence both in the United States and globally. Yet there were no fresh revelations. Fox News, the favorite channel of the right, declined to carry most of the four-hour hearing live, featuring just a few clips before turning to other topics.” [New York Times, 2/9/23]

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

Vanity Fair: Republicans Are All About Weaponizing The Government. “With its ‘weaponization of government’ committee the GOP has basically hung up a shingle for ‘Insurrection LLC’—a law firm of sorts where MAGA Republicans will work overtime to expunge their own roles in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.’ California representative Eric Swalwell told me, ‘Erasing what happened on January 6—and the role Trump and MAGA GOP played—is the best way to incite a future attack on democracy.’ […] We know what this committee is. It’s a craven propaganda ploy. The question is, like with so many things in this political landscape, will it work with voters? The midterms showed that swing state voters weren’t swayed by these kinds of MAGA theatrics. And Republicans, to win in 2024, need voters who rejected the likes of Kari Lake, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Blake Masters—and will likely shrink at the image of Marjorie Taylor Greene banging a gavel and cosplaying Nancy Pelosi. It’s too soon to know if the ‘weaponization’ committee hurts Republicans the way the party’s overreach with Bill Clinton’s impeachment did in the late 1990s—or if it helps the GOP the way Benghazi did in tarnishing Hillary Clinton last decade. But it’s hard to imagine this group of morons aren’t going to embarrass themselves, and the country, in the process.” [Vanity Fair, 2/8/23]

Raw Story: Ranking Dem Kicks Off ‘Weaponization’ Hearing By Ripping GOP Efforts To ‘Showcase Conspiracy Theories’. “At the outset of the hearing, delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) said she’s aware of the importance of asking questions and demanding answers from the federal government, but according to her, Republicans want to use the hearings as a ‘political tool.’ ‘I’m deeply concerned about the use of this subcommittee as a place to settle scores, showcase conspiracy theories, and advance an extreme agenda that risks undermining Americans’ faith in our democracy,’ Plaskett said. Plaskett said that Republicans want the public to think that federal agencies are part of a ‘deep state cabal.’ ‘The Department of Justice and the FBI do not always get it right,’ she said. ‘History is full of examples of these agencies getting it very, very wrong. … But in our current climate, with domestic terrorism on the rise, and hate speech normalized by our national politicians, the Department of Justice and the FBI are doing their best to protect us from sliding into chaos.’” [Raw Story, 2/9/23]

New York Times: Heckling of Biden Reflects a New, Coarser Normal for House G.O.P. “The House floor has been no stranger to rowdy spectacle in 2023, but the eruptions of Republican vitriol against President Biden during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night underscored a new and notably coarse normal in Congress, where members of the G.O.P. majority tossed aside rules of decorum and turned the annual speech into a showcase for partisan hostility. The raucous peals of ‘liar,’ ‘that’s not true’ and at least one expletive lobbed at Mr. Biden during his 73-minute address dwarfed outbursts during previous such speeches, most of which have been interrupted by a single disturbance, if at all. The display — captured in images of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, her mouth wide open as she booed and gave a thumbs down to the president — reflected the ethos that has come to define the Republican-led House, where an emboldened right wing that styles itself after former President Donald J. Trump is unapologetic about its antipathy for Mr. Biden and eager to show it in attention-grabbing ways. ‘If the American people had been on that House floor listening to that speech, it would have been a lot worse names than I called him,’ said Ms. Greene, Republican of Georgia, who rose to yell ‘liar’ at Mr. Biden repeatedly after he noted that some Republicans favored a plan that could phase out Social Security. Asked whether she was worried about being rebuked for her antics, she added: ‘Not one single bit. I have the speaker’s support, and he has mine.’” [New York Times, 2/8/23]