“It’s an easy crutch for them to grasp and they’re grabbing it because they can’t really defend what he might be charged with,” said a House GOP staffer, who, like some others, spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly . “They lean on this instead of defending him on the facts, which they can’t.”
However, Jordan’s counterpart on the House oversight committee recently said in an interview that following up on an investigation of classified documents found at Trump’s Florida private club and estate “will not be a priority.”
Incoming Chairman James Comer has conducted the Minority Party’s own investigation into the August search warrant executed at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, but has indicated he prefers to prioritize next year’s investigations into the how Twitter handled Hunter Biden’s reporting before the 2020 election and the origins of the coronavirus.
Despite the varying degrees of focus – or lack thereof – on Trump, Republicans are nonetheless poised to pursue lines of inquiry that may overlap with the theme of politicization at the Justice Department. In an all-caps post on his Truth Social platform on Friday, Trump claimed an unprecedented “WERPING” of federal law enforcement, dating back to the government’s oversight of foreign contacts with some people associated with Trump’s campaign in 2016.
Republican lawmakers and aides said the collection of investigations reflects not so much a coordinated strategy as a reflex after years of Trump scandals. A longtime Republican congressional researcher said the approach has almost become formal and is gaining momentum within the feedback loop between right-wing media and Republican lawmakers.
“If the detectives give you an answer you don’t like, investigate the detectives,” the detective said. “The members get invested, and then the base gets invested and even if things turn out to be really stupid things that they investigate, they’re going to get a lot of Fox News out of it.”
At a fractious conference with a narrow majority next year, some House Republicans have expressed concern about brutal attacks on the FBI, especially after a Trump supporter attempted to storm the Cincinnati field office in August.
“The rhetoric needs to be toned down,” said a Republican member of the oversight committee. Sure, I have questions and concerns about the DOJ and the FBI, but man, some of the tweets you see are just for dramatization. And if you want to be taken seriously, you have to take the problem seriously.”
The lawmaker added, “The question is, can Comer control some of the potential new members — like the woman from Georgia — who care less about content and more about their Twitter profile?”
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is vying for a seat on the oversight panel, has said she wants to investigate the treatment of people charged in connection with the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election. to make.
Republican leader Kevin McCarthy — who is trying to win the vote to become speaker of the House by bolstering his support with far-right members like Greene — has indicated that he will resume the work of the House select committee investigating the attack. wants to investigate. McCarthy boycotted the panel after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked two of his appointments.
Neither effort would fully satisfy Trump’s demand for a congressional inquiry into the 2020 election, which he insists was stolen from him without any evidence. He and his associates also face a federal investigation into efforts to stage bogus voters claiming Trump won, an investigation now also under Smith’s authority.
Trump and his most outspoken surrogates in right-wing media are trying to more explicitly draw a line from past scandals and build on the same counterattacks they’ve launched against the Russian meddling investigation.
In 2018, a memo by House Intelligence Committee staffers led by then-Representative Devin Nunes raised allegations about the FBI’s handling of the early phase of the Russia investigation, in an attempt to dismiss Trump’s unprovoked accusation that the administration Obama tapped his phones. The Nunes memo led to his denial of the panel’s Russia inquiry — he later left Congress to become the head of Trump’s embattled media venture — but it laid the foundation for years of Republican attacks culminating in John Durham, another special counsel. Durham eventually charged two people with false statements in connection with the investigation; both were acquitted.
“Let’s go from Russiagate to the laptop in 60 seconds,” former Trump aide Kash Patel said Monday on the online talk show “War Room,” hosted by former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, referring to the Russia investigation and the materials on Hunter Biden. “It’s Russiagate on replay, on a monumentally larger scale.”
Republican attempts to discredit the current Trump investigations revolved around a former agent they believe was involved in both. In May, Grassley identified Timothy Thibault, then a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, who posted social media posts that appeared critical of Trump. Thibault retired from the agency in August, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, after questioning by Senate Republicans, acknowledged that the allegations were “deeply troubling” while he wanted to avoid interfering with any specific personnel issue.
“Our people need to make sure that they’re not just doing the right thing, they’re doing it the right way and that they’re avoiding even the appearance of bias or lack of objectivity,” Wray said.
Several of Grassley’s surveillance letters have described Thibault’s social media posts as tarnishing Trump’s criminal investigation, much as Republicans attacked the motivations of individual FBI officials in the Russia investigation. In a statement, Thibault’s lawyers said he was not involved in the Mar-a-Lago search and did not oversee the investigation into alleged tax violations by Hunter Biden, which was handled by the FBI’s Baltimore office.
Republicans have also seized on the role of Jim Baker, a top FBI attorney during the Russia investigation, who moved on to a senior legal position at Twitter. The social media company’s new owner and CEO, billionaire Elon Musk, said he fired Baker after he released information about the company’s internal handling of material about Hunter Biden ahead of the 2020 election. On Tuesday, Comer sought testimony from Baker and two other former company officials.
“The American people deserve to know why Twitter removed the Hunter Biden laptop story, even as your colleagues questioned the rationale for suppressing the story,” Comer wrote, citing a New York Post story that was briefly suppressed on Twitter due to concerns about its provenance.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the agency would review the surveillance letters.