Even before federal agents entered the Mar-a-Lago compound on Monday, congressional Republicans were busily preparing their plans to probe President Joe Biden and his administration ahead of an expected takeover of Capitol Hill after November’s election.
But the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s South Florida home — reportedly to execute search warrants related to the custody of official documents — immediately transformed the investigation from a top priority into the potential main event of a Republican-controlled congress next year.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — the presumptive speaker of the House if Republicans pull off a takeover of the chamber — didn’t wait for more details about the raid to emerge before demanding that Attorney General Merrick Garland return next year appears for testimony.
“When the Republicans take over the House of Representatives, we will immediately oversee that department, follow the facts and leave no stone unturned,” McCarthy said Monday night. “Attorney General Garland, save your documents and clear your calendar.”
The Justice Department, which is weighing whether to prosecute the former president, is always in the GOP’s “crosshairs of oversight,” said Aaron Cutler, a former Republican prosecutor who now leads the congressional investigation at the law firm Hogan Lovells.
But Monday’s FBI raid and the lack of public knowledge about the extraordinary move “really infuriated” the GOP, Cutler said. “It makes Republicans get even more involved in government,” he said.
This enthusiastic dig will not simply end at the doors of the DOJ. Over the past year, GOP lawmakers in both the House and Senate have publicly outlined dozens of areas in which they want to probe the Biden administration.
Some of these areas are straightforward and might even invite cross-party collaboration. Republicans want to address the disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year and the often confusing COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Some Democrats could come on board for these investigations.
But with the GOP parent on her legislative agenda so far, what seems most excited about a takeover of Capitol Hill by Republicans right now seems to be something else: investigations aimed primarily at hitting Biden there, where it hurts – and hurting his political prospects ahead of the 2024 election.
Even before Biden took office, GOP lawmakers began laying the groundwork for wide-ranging investigations into the presidential son Hunter’s business dealings and have promised to examine another investigation: the one conducted by the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 .
Meanwhile, Republican grassroots members have publicly called for impeachment of Biden along with Garland and other cabinet secretaries such as Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas.
“What we’re seeing from what they’re saying is nothing about a legislative agenda when they’re in the majority,” said Norman Ornstein, a senior fellow emeritus at the right-wing think tank American Enterprise Institute. “The whole issue here is retaliation against people in the Biden administration ranging from Merrick Garland to Anthony Fauci.”
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) had a different description for the prospect of a GOP majority exercising oversight powers. “It would be a shit show on steroids,” he told The Daily Beast.
Playing out GOP supervisory plans is hardly an academic exercise or a conversation with far-fetched hypotheses. Given historical trends, circuit elections and Biden’s low approval ratings, it’s widely expected that Republicans will easily take control of the House; Control of the Senate is more of a toss up.
However, Republicans need only flip one chamber to gain access to the committee hammers — and with it, a massive infusion of resources to hire lawyers and investigators — to create a day-to-day headache for the Biden administration.
You could do this on several fronts. Investigations into Biden’s family would be the most politically sensitive and partisan; Second comes investigations into how Biden and congressional Democrats themselves have investigated the abuses of the Trump presidency and January 6th.
Additionally, Republicans are keen to examine the pullout from Afghanistan, the public health policies of COVID-19, the origins of the virus, and the Department of Homeland Security’s handling of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
There is a serious appetite among the grassroots to use their powers in Congress to give in to an investigation into Trump’s obsession — the 2020 election — which leaders have yet to approve.
The last time Republicans had a chance to examine Democratic government, they followed the lead of their base — a move that has only aged worse with time. From 2014 to 2016, House Republicans established a committee to investigate the 2012 terrorist attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Valid questions had to be answered about the government failures that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. But GOP leaders — McCarthy in particular — eventually admitted the probe existed solely to harm Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in 2016.
Some Republicans acknowledge there is a risk of going too far again. “I don’t think the leadership wants to see Hunter Biden alone on a witness panel, beaten up for hours,” Cutler said. “The example of Benghazi, I think people would understand that’s not really what the American public wants to see.”
Cutler argued that McCarthy would “make sure the conference is measured and not sending out random subpoenas” when they control the gavels next year. In the eyes of many Republicans, the Democrats went too far with their control of the Trump administration.
They outlined dozens of possible investigations before taking the house in 2018; Within six months of the chamber’s scrutiny, 14 House committees had launched at least 50 investigations into the Trump administration, according to NBC News.
Though top Republicans have used their oversight plans primarily to throw red meat at the GOP grassroots, they’ve also at least signaled that they want to pursue sober, bread-and-butter issues.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who is expected to become chairman of the House Oversight Committee, pledged to POLITICO to bring the panel “back to its original intent”.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time doing investigative hearings for the first three, four months,” Comer said, “and then we’re going to be very active in the subcommittee process, focusing on material waste, fraud and abuse-type issues.”
Speakers for Comer and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) – who is set to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee – did not respond to requests from The Daily Beast for comment on their oversight plans.
It’s fair to say Democrats don’t expect serious oversight next year. Ornstein argued that any suggestion that Democrats’ control of the Trump administration — “the most scandalous in the country’s history” — is not remotely comparable to what Republicans are now outlining.
As Republicans try to even the score and bring policy points against Biden to the board, Ornstein said even legitimate oversight avenues like Afghanistan or COVID-19 policy could be tainted. “I don’t have much hope that we would have legitimate oversight,” he said.
The White House has reportedly already begun laying the groundwork to respond to a spate of GOP inquiries and oversight requests, adding staff to the attorney’s office and discussing office restructuring to accommodate his opponents on the Capitol better able to face Hill should they take over.
Congressional Democrats, still struggling to retain control of the House and Senate, are reluctant to publicly play off how they would address the minority role — and take the GOP’s chest-pounding oversight to their case towards the voters.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chair of the House Oversight Committee, told The Daily Beast that Republicans on the panel “have made it clear that they are more interested in promoting former President Trump’s extreme agenda, including.” spreading conspiracy theories and launching electoral political attacks on President Biden and members of his family.”
“I’m proud of the committee’s strong track record at this convention,” Maloney said, “and I think the American people see that the Democrats are working to improve their lives while our colleagues on the other side are focused on collect political points.”
Huffman argued that Democrats “shouldn’t spend time developing a game plan to deal with being in the majority.”
“We should put all of our effort into working for the American people and getting the voters to our case on why these guys are unfit to govern,” Huffman said.
Democrats have happily picked up comments Republicans have made in response to the Mar-a-Lago raid — such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s call for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to “defund” the FBI — to bolster this case.
Greene’s comments foreshadow a broader problem for McCarthy and his GOP lieutenants as they move closer to the majority of the House of Representatives: Can they stay in the driver’s seat on sensitive investigations, or will they just ride along?
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a frequent critic of McCarthy, suggested last December that the days of Benghazi would look odd compared to what he and his allies had planned for Biden.
“It’s not going to be the days of Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy and no real oversight and no real subpoenas,” Gaetz said. “It will be the days of Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Dr. Gosar and me.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-house-gops-plan-to-troll-biden-with-investigations-is-a-shitshow-on-steroids?source=articles&via=rss House GOP’s plan to troll Biden with investigation is a ‘sh*tshow on steroids’