The GOP is preparing to hammer agencies reviewing the conduct of former President Trump with a new select subcommittee poised to focus on the “weaponization” of the federal government.
The panel is being drawn up to take aim at ongoing investigations at the Department of Justice and the FBI on Trump, including the taking of classified documents to Mar-a-Lago and the former president’s conduct leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The subcommittee, included under the umbrella of the House Judiciary Committee, is expected to be helmed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a combative ally of Trump.
Jordan has already sent more than 100 letters to the two agencies ahead of his own expected probes — complaining the FBI has “ridiculed conservative Americans.”
Republicans have weighed a “Church-style” investigation of the FBI since late last year, modeled after a 1970s investigation into civil liberties violations by the intelligence community.
But language in the resolution establishing the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government would give the panel the power to oversee “ongoing criminal investigations.”
The language, apparently added on Friday during negotiations with the Freedom Caucus as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) worked to secure the gavel, would strengthen lawmakers as the Justice Department continues its probe of Trump for his role in the deadly riot two years earlier.
Another last-minute addition includes the ability of lawmakers on the 13-member panel to have access to the same information shared with the House Intelligence Committee, which receives some of the most closely guarded information the intelligence community shares with members of Congress.
The panel is also set to include five Democrats in consultation with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), similar to the initial structure of the Jan. 6 committee.
But after a year of GOP complaints about the wide-ranging authority of the Jan. 6 select committee, Republicans appear to have aimed for greater force.
“We got more resources, more specificity, more power to go after this recalcitrant Biden administration,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who voted against McCarthy in the first 11 Speakership votes, said in an interview on Fox News.
Neither the DOJ nor the FBI responded to requests for comment about being the focus of the subcommittee.
Democrats see the new subcommittee as a landing spot for conservative propaganda. Judiciary ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) called it a “reckless partisan exercise fueled by conspiracy theories.”
“Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy claim to be investigating the weaponization of the federal government when, in fact, this new select committee is the weapon itself,” Nadler said in a statement to ABC News.
“It is specifically designed to inject extremist politics into our justice system and shield the MAGA movement from the legal consequences of their actions.”
The subcommittee could delve into any number of legal issues swirling around Trump.
Special counsel Jack Smith has been appointed to oversee the investigations into the mishandling of records at Mar-a-Lago as well as Jan. 6.
But Trump also has to contend with a Georgia probe into his efforts to pressure Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” more votes.
State and federal authorities in New York are also investigating the Trump Organization’s business practices. Those additional probes hold the potential for criminal charges against Trump.
The GOP has its own ongoing list of grievances, ranging from plans to investigate Hunter Biden to claims the FBI has been politicized and is unfairly targeting conservatives.
The resolution allows for the review of any White House effort to “obtain information from, and provide information to the private sector, non-profit entities, or other government agencies to facilitate action against American citizens” — likely a review of any FBI interactions with social media companies.
Jordan’s attitude about the FBI has been made clear through his letters as well as a report he released late last year. That report was widely panned for including little new information to back claims that the FBI is inflating domestic terrorism reporting or is “clearing the Bureau of employees who dissent from its woke, leftist agenda.”
He has also distorted a DOJ memo on threats against local school board members, saying the government plans to charge American parents as domestic terrorists.
The memo resulted in little, however, and largely encouraged coordination, asking the FBI to convene meetings with local law enforcement in the following 30 days to discuss how to respond to threats of violence.
It’s also not clear who the other members of the subcommittee will be, as the rules do not specify that those lawmakers must also sit on the broader House Judiciary Committee.
That could also set up an interesting conflict of interest for some who could be appointed to the subcommittee, including those who were subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 panel.
“Why should I be limited — why should anybody be limited — just because someone has made an accusation? Everybody in America is innocent until proven guilty,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Perry was subpoenaed by panel after it was discovered he introduced Trump to the lawyer Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump considered appointing as attorney general in order to propagate his claims of election fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
“So, should everybody in Congress that disagrees with somebody be barred from doing the oversight and investigative powers that Congress has? That’s our charge,” Perry said.
“And again, that’s appropriate for every single member, regardless of what accusations are made. I get accused of things every single day, as does every member that serves in the public eye.”