House Republicans seek testimony from Manhattan DA on Trump hush money probe

A trio of Republican House chairmen are demanding testimony from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) ahead of his potential prosecution of former President Trump in connection with hush money payments made ahead of the 2016 election.

The letter to Bragg comes after Trump claimed over the weekend that he could be arrested as soon as Tuesday and asked his supporters to prepare to protest on his behalf.

It also comes before Bragg has officially made any decision on charging Trump with a crime, and raised concerns among Democrats who said the GOP was inappropriately interfering with the investigation.

The GOP lawmakers cited Trump’s announced bid for office in 2024 in asking for documents and communication about the probe. They said Bragg should sit for an interview “as soon as possible.”

“Your actions will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote in the letter, which was also signed by Chairmen James Comer (R-Ky.) and Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), who lead the Oversight and Administration committees.

“In light of the serious consequences of your actions, we expect that you will testify about what plainly appears to be a politically motivated prosecutorial decision,” Jordan continued.

Bragg’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The move alarmed Democrats even before the letter was officially sent.

“Defending Trump is not a legitimate legislative purpose for Congress to investigate a state district attorney,” Rep. Daniel Goldman (N.Y.), who before joining Congress worked as a counsel to Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment, wrote on Twitter.

“Congress has no jurisdiction to investigate the Manhattan DA, which receives no federal funding nor has any other federal nexus,” Goldman added.

The letter follows the House GOP's recent creation of a subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the government. That panel has the power to oversee “ongoing criminal investigations.”

“Using a congressional committee to bully a state DA sounds like...the weaponization of the federal government,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter.

The letter says Bragg’s probe “requires congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law-enforcement agencies.”

Bragg’s investigation is focused on Trump’s role in directing a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who was prepared to go public with a story she had a sexual relationship with Trump, an affair he denies.

Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen arranged the payment, was reimbursed by Trump for the work as legal expenses and failed to disclose it in campaign finance records. He ultimately pleaded guilty and served jail time for his involvement in arranging the payments, something he said he did at the direction of Trump.

The letter runs through what the lawmakers see as a host of issues with a potential case, including the credibility of Cohen.

Bragg reignited the investigation into the matter, which was previously pursued by his predecessor Cyrus Vance, who explored the payment as part of a broader probe before ultimately suspending the probe over concerns with the strength of the case. Bragg has taken up a more narrow focus.

Still, the authors seized on that point, calling it a “zombie” case. They also questioned whether any charges would fit within the statute of limitations, which for New York felonies runs five years. That timeline can be extended, however, when a defendant has consistently lived out of state.

“The inference from the totality of these facts is that your impending indictment is motivated by political calculations,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The facts of this matter have not changed since 2018 and no new witnesses have emerged.”

Updated at 1:08 p.m.

Three key Trump figures intersect two Justice Department probes 

Three key figures connected to former President Trump are at the intersection of two accelerating Justice Department probes seen as the most viable pathways for a prosecution of the former president.    

Special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing what began as two entirely separate cases: the mishandling of classified records at Mar-a-Lago and the effort to influence the 2020 election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.      

Several Trump World figures straddle both events, providing prosecutors with what experts say is a potent opportunity to advance both investigations.      

Alex Cannon, Christina Bobb and Kash Patel played different roles in the two sagas, but each has been sought by the Justice Department in the documents dispute and has also been called in by the special House committee, now disbanded, that investigated the Jan. 6 riot.    

Cannon, a longtime Trump Organization employee, was pulled into campaign efforts to assess allegations of voter fraud and then served as a liaison for Trump with the National Archives as officials there pushed for the recovery of presidential records.  

Bobb, a lawyer for Trump’s 2024 campaign, aided in the Trump 2020 campaign’s post-election lawsuits. She later shifted to doing legal work for Trump that culminated in her signing a statement asserting classified records stored at Mar-a-Lago had been returned.   

Patel was chief of staff to the secretary of Defense as the Pentagon was grappling with Jan. 6. Trump also named Patel as one of his representatives to the National Archives upon leaving office, and he was later one of Trump’s chief surrogates in pushing claims that the former president declassified the records discovered in his Florida home.  

It’s unclear whether any of the trio faces significant legal exposure, but their unique positions could be valuable for Smith, who is racing forward with both cases. In recent weeks, Smith has subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, while securing another batch of materials from Mar-a-Lago.  

“Typically, you don't have two separate investigations and two separate sets of possible crimes to work with as you're negotiating. Smith does have that here,” said Norm Eisen, a counsel for Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment who has penned analyses of both cases.     

“For him, it's like a two-for-one sale. If he cuts a cooperation deal with some of these individuals, he can advance multiple cases at the same time,” Eisen added.     

Patel was granted immunity by a judge and compelled to answer questions in the Mar-a-Lago case after being previously subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury and repeatedly pleading the Fifth. Bobb has also spoken with prosecutors in relation to the case and testified before a grand jury. And the Justice Department is seeking to speak to Cannon about his dealings with the National Archives, The New York Times reported

“I think that is a potential fruitful avenue for the Justice Department in these cases,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney under President Obama. “Their overlap in the two cases is very interesting, because you could use criminal exposure in one case to flip them in the other case.” 

Attorneys for Cannon and Bobb did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story, while a spokesperson for Patel declined to comment. The Trump campaign also did not respond to request for comment.  

To be clear, other figures also may have insight into the two probes, including Meadows and former deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin. Former White House attorney Eric Herschmann is also reported to have warned Trump about holding records at Mar-a-Lago.     

Still, the trove of transcripts released by the House Jan. 6 committee offers a window into three figures who, despite diverging paths, became central in the Mar-a-Lago probe. 

Bobb and Patel, who now serves on the board of Trump’s social media enterprise, remain deeply enmeshed with the former president.      

Cannon was most recently employed by Michael Best, a law firm that in December severed its ties with several Trump-connected attorneys, including Stefan Passantino, who represented former aides before the Jan. 6 panel. The firm also allowed contracts with Cannon and former Trump deputy campaign manager Justin Clark to lapse, Bloomberg News reported

The firm did not respond to a request for comment.   

Cannon, who was initially hired to work on contracts for the Trump Organization, expressed hesitation during interviews with the Jan. 6 panel about being pulled into working on fraud issues for the campaign as the pandemic brought hotel operations to a trickle.    

“I believe that the only reason I was asked to do this is because others didn't want to. I have no particular experience with election law or anything. I do vendor contracts,” he told the committee.     

When asked if he found that work undesirable, he responded, “I'm sitting here right now. Yes, it's undesirable.”      

The conversations show Cannon was tasked with evaluating a number of claims from “crazy people,” as he once described it, as well as other claims that dead people may have voted — something he was unable to verify given limitations in voter databases.  

He ultimately relayed those concerns to Pence, recounting to the committee in what would become a brief appearance in a hearing that “I was not personally finding anything sufficient to alter the results of the election.”      

It was a stance that caught the eye of former Trump adviser Peter Navarro.  

“Mr. Navarro accused me of being an agent of the deep state working … against the president. And I never took another phone call from Mr. Navarro,” Cannon said.     

Bobb, in contrast, made clear in her interview that she believed there was suspicious activity on Election Day that merited review.     

Once a reporter for the far-right One America News, Bobb had come to the network after working as an attorney, including during stints with the Marine Corps. She would later get a master of laws degree from Georgetown University, joining the Trump administration at the Department of Homeland Security after graduation.      

While working as a One America News employee, she volunteered her time to the Trump campaign immediately after the election. The arrangement was approved by the network, though the campaign required her to sign a nondisclosure agreement.     

“There was plenty of evidence to be concerned about fraud,” she said, even if the legal team wasn’t prepared to launch a case on the first day following the election. 

“I volunteered and I wanted to look into it because I was concerned about the integrity of my vote, of the country. I think that's why we all got involved. So I don't want you to take my statement and say, Christina Bobb said that in the beginning the legal team knew there was no fraud. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying there was plenty of reason to believe there could be fraud.”

Bobb was present in the “war room” at the Willard Hotel on Jan. 6 and was listening in to Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — a discussion she told the panel was “unremarkable.”    

The Jan. 6 committee transcripts indicate Cannon and Bobb had no interaction throughout the litigation process, with Bobb saying they did not connect until after President Biden was sworn in. Bobb told investigators she didn’t speak with Cannon until later, adding nothing more when investigators asked if it was on an unrelated matter.     

Bobb’s role with Trump on the Mar-a-Lago documents picked up where Cannon left off.     

In February 2022, Cannon declined Trump’s request to sign a statement indicating all classified material at Mar-a-Lago had been returned because he wasn’t sure the statement was true, according to reporting from The Washington Post.      

Bobb would join the team later, agreeing to sign a declaration given to the Justice Department in June attesting that all sensitive government documents had been returned — with the stipulation that her attestation was “based upon the information that has been provided to me.”     

“The contrast between the two as lawyers speaks volumes,” said Josh Stanton, an attorney with Perry Guha who contributed to a model prosecution memo for the Mar-a-Lago case.  

“Alex Cannon refus[es] to sign a certification that everything had been turned over where he wasn't able to do himself the diligent work to actually independently verify that, whereas Christina Bobb is in a position where she's told to sign the certification, and is told that that's correct, then just goes ahead and signs it anyway,” he said.  

“Whether or not you could actually make out, say, criminal charges against Christina Bobb for signing that certification … it certainly puts her ethically, as a lawyer, in really hot water,” he added.     

Patel, who spoke to the Jan. 6 committee after being subpoenaed, began his deposition with an opening statement expressing frustration that the panel did not think he would be cooperative with its investigation.     

Patel later answered questions during a lengthy interview after noting privilege concerns, but investigators at times seemed baffled by details the former high-ranking Defense Department official could not remember. Patel struggled to recall specifics about some conversations with Trump and demurred when asked about reported plans near the end of the Trump presidency to install him as head of the CIA.    

“I know you guys try to think this is improbable, but I was in one of those positions for a two-year period of time, approximately, where I had many conversations with the president impacting things that I would only read about or watch in movies,” he said.      

“So, after a certain period of time, they tend to stack up and you just do the mission,” Patel added.     

Patel largely sidestepped questions on whether Trump should have done more to stop the chaos on Jan. 6, but spoke at length about the process for securing assistance from the National Guard and Trump’s approval for the use of as many as 20,000 troops that day.     

The committee panned Trump’s inaction as dereliction of duty, and Stanton said Patel’s comments could forecast a response should Trump or others face culpability for Jan. 6.  

“Some of the most powerful testimony in the hearings themselves was the sort of hours Trump seemed not to act. And so I think he's previewing what they're going to say, which is, ‘Oh, no, I actually did authorize 10,000 or 20,000 National Guard members to be able to respond,’” he said.

In the Mar-a-Lago probe, Patel repeatedly asserted his Fifth Amendment rights during his first appearance before a grand jury.     

“Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves,” Patel told Breitbart News in May.     

“The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified,” Patel said. “I was there with President Trump when he said ‘We are declassifying this information.'”     

Trump’s attorneys have not directly backed that claim, though it would not be a bulletproof defense should he face Espionage Act charges, as the law deals with those who mishandle “national defense information.”

The special counsel appears to be ratcheting up the probes in recent weeks, even seeking to pierce the attorney-client privilege of Evan Corcoran, one of Trump’s attorneys in the document dispute, arguing his legal advice may have been given in furtherance of a crime.

It’s a move observers say should give warning to other attorneys involved in the probe.     

“Any lawyer associated with Donald Trump is at great risk,” Eisen said. “I mean, he's like a neutron bomb for the legal profession.”  

How a Bush-era law requiring border ‘perfection’ stands at center of GOP impeachment case  

A budding GOP impeachment case against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is relying on a 2006 law that says operational control of the border means the prevention “of all unlawful entries” to the United States — a standard seen as impossible to meet.  

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed during a failed Bush-era effort to move a comprehensive immigration reform bill. In the fallout, House Republicans rushed to show they were taking action on border security, requiring the installation of intermittent fencing along the southern border.  

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Gregory Payan/AP Images for NFL)

But a provision of the law defining operational control is now at the center of the new House GOP majority’s effort to impeach Mayorkas, who is accused of lying to Congress when he’s said the border is secure.  

“Secretary Mayorkas does not think that the border is open. He thinks that he has operational control, although the Secure Fence Act of 2006 clearly defines what operational control of a border is, and that means that no contraband or individual can come into the country illegally,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, a conservative Republican from Arizona and one of two members who have formally introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. 

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“And yet, under his watch, Secretary Mayorkas has allowed in approximately 5 million illegal aliens coming through, and that doesn’t include got-aways,” added Biggs.

Republicans argue that Mayorkas has been ineffective in managing what they see as a crisis, as record numbers of migrants attempt to cross the southern border. It’s a failure they contend is a violation of his oath of office. 

“He has taken an oath, a constitutional oath, to obey the laws of the United States and protect us,” said Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), who this year filed the first articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.   

Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

“In 2006, the Secure Fence Act was passed which requires the Department of Homeland Security Secretary to maintain the operational control of the southern border. He has clearly not done that,” Fallon said.  

Democrats and other critics of the GOP case argue that the differences between Republicans and Mayorkas are largely policy issues that don’t rise to the level of impeachment. 

“Impeachment covers treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. It's not typically envisioned as covering policy disputes, or disagreements on policy, which seems like what these are,” said Dave Rapallo, a Georgetown Law professor who also worked with Democrats on the impeachment of former President Trump. 

He and others argue that the 2006 law lays out an impossible standard — but includes clear language that gives the secretary the discretion to determine how to meet it. 

“Congress has delegated to the secretary of Homeland Security the decision to determine what is 'necessary and appropriate.' And that's what the department is doing. There may be a difference of opinion about whether that happens with walls or other mechanisms to prevent unlawful entry,” Rapallo said. “But if the standard is that not one migrant can get into the United States, that’s a standard no secretary of Homeland Security would ever meet.” 

Doris Meissner, who ran the Immigration and Naturalization Service under former President Clinton and how heads the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, said the standard "isn't something that we ask of any other law enforcement regime."

Previous Homeland Security secretaries, Democrats and Republicans, have not been removed over the standard highlighted by Biggs and Fallon.  

“The assumption with having law enforcement at all, is that there are laws and there will be a degree to which laws are broken, and law enforcement, and law enforcement systems, and structures are in place to keep them to a minimum and to create accountability if they do happen," said Meissner. 

Biggs himself acknowledged the standard that no one or thing can enter the country illegally for the DHS secretary to not be impeached is a high one. But he argues Mayorkas still deserves to be impeached because of how he has handled border security.  

“While that particular statute requires perfection, which we all recognize is an impossible task, the American public still trusts him to do his very best to secure operational control of the border. He necessarily has the ‘public trust,’ and as a Cabinet secretary, he is a public man,” he wrote in an op-ed shortly after introducing his resolution. 

“The case against Alejandro Mayorkas … does not necessarily turn on whether Mayorkas has actually committed a statutorily defined black-letter crime. It is whether he has committed a ‘high crime’ as that term is understood under the U.S. Constitution.” 

The fencing bill was passed after two competing comprehensive immigration reform bills moved through the House and Senate in 2005. 

The House version, led by former Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), was a security-focused immigration crackdown; the Senate version led by former Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) paired border security and guest worker provisions with a broad legalization program for undocumented immigrants. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Jan. 29, 2008 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

To no one's surprise, the House and Senate were unable to find a middle ground in conference, and the two bills failed in the lead-up to the 2006 midterm elections. 

“There really was a strong feeling, in the Senate in particular, that people had to go home with something to show for immigration, in order to be running their campaigns, and having some kind of a message to take back to their constituents,” said Meissner.  

“So they passed this act quite hurriedly in October of 2006, right on the cusp of the elections. It just had this sort of sweeping mandate, which really hadn't been tested or vetted with the executive branch,” she added. 

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), one of the co-sponsors of the 2006 border bill, described the legislation as tasking the Homeland Security secretary to determine where to put fencing. 

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

“It was our intention to put a fence not everywhere but where it made sense to put the fence on the border, you know, [in] more populated areas to have the infrastructure in place to stop illegal crossings,” he said, noting along with specific mileage of fencing, “we gave discretion to the secretary to use his or her judgment as to where to put it.” 

McCaul, a stern Mayorkas critic who has directly admonished the secretary in hearings, has likewise criticized members of his party for rushing a process he said should be handled by committees of jurisdiction who can investigate and build a strong case for impeachment.  

“You can make the case to the American people without having to do it overnight. We criticized the Democrats for impeaching Trump in one day. ... We shouldn't make that same mistake,” he told The Hill. 

Mayorkas and his department are now gearing up for a fight.  

The department initially declined to assign specific staff to deal with impeachment, but on Friday confirmed it had hired an outside law firm to aid in any eventual impeachment hearings. 

It’s also shifted tone in its public statements on impeachment developments, attacking the credibility of the resolutions directly. 

“Instead of pointing fingers and trying to score political points, the Members of Congress recklessly and baselessly pursuing impeachment should work on legislative solutions for our broken immigration system,” DHS said last week when Biggs’s resolution was introduced.  

Republicans have rolled out other arguments for impeachment, including one that mirrors a recent lawsuit from a number of GOP-led states challenging a program that allows 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela to be “paroled” into the country each month, while quickly expelling to Mexico an equal number of migrants from those countries who show up at the border. 

The resolution deems the current use of parole an abuse, calling it a way to "'legally’ admit aliens.” 

Biggs and other Republicans are also basing their impeachment case on a broader claim — dismissed as a conspiracy theory by Democrats — that the Biden administration is intentionally loosening border controls. 

“First of all, when we look at that intentionality, this is done intentionally,” Biggs told reporters last week. “This is not negligence, it is not by accident. It is not incompetence, and how do we know that? Well, just like we look at a culpable mental state, like intentionality or knowledge, we look at a totality of circumstances." 

Biggs said the evidence of intention is in Mayorkas ending a series of Trump-era border policies, a move that many Republicans believe is the direct cause of increased migration in the Western Hemisphere, presumably knowing his policies would result in increased border crossings. 

But whether Republican leadership decides to forward any impeachment resolution, the process could face a substantial roadblock in the Democratic-controlled upper chamber. 

“A majority of the House could just decide to impeach the secretary based on whatever it puts in its resolution,” Rapallo said. “But that's highly unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate.” 

House weaponization panel opens first hearing with a partisan bang

The GOP’s government weaponization subcommittee launched its first hearing Thursday, offering a dizzying flood of claims that highlight the partisan divisions over the role of the federal government and the legitimacy of the newly created panel.

Republicans formed the committee as a way to counter alleged abuse of a government they say is abusing its power to target conservatives. Democrats see the committee as the weapon itself, a vehicle for the GOP to forward conspiracy theories that will mobilize the Republican base ahead of 2024.

Helmed by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of both the subcommittee and the overall Judiciary Committee where it is housed, Thursday’s hearing included a quartet of current and former lawmakers, with the GOP inviting former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who left the Democratic Party, to testify.

“Over the course of our work in this committee, we expect to hear from government officials and experts like we have here today. We expect to hear from Americans who've been targeted by the government. We expect to hear from people in need. And we expect to hear from the FBI agents who have come forward as whistleblowers,” Jordan said Thursday.

“Protecting the Constitution shouldn't be partisan,” he added.

Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.), the top Democrat on the panel, countered that the conception of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government itself was purely partisan.

“I'm deeply concerned about the use of this select 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 at the outset of the hearing.

The hearing, convened to broadly explore politicization of the FBI and the Justice Department, went even wider, with a first panel of current and former lawmakers offering a roadmap of the suite of potential topics the panel could cover.

References to the investigation of former President Trump, probes into President Biden's son Hunter Biden, alleged abuse of authority at the IRS, complaints of media coverage and social media company actions were woven together in opening statements from Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rob Johnson (R-Wis.). 

Grassley complained of a “triad” of influences seeking to limit a number of his own inquiries, stymied by what he said were partisan media, the FBI and Democratic colleagues.

“What I’m about to tell you sounds like it’s out of some fiction spy thriller, but it actually happened,” he said.

Johnson said his 10-minute opening statement “barely scratched the surface in the striking complexity, power and destructive nature of the forces that we face.”

The two, along with Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the top Democrat on the oversight committee who served as the party’s witness Tuesday, each took a page out of Jordan’s book, rattling off a list of examples of impropriety, whether by the government or allies of Trump.

“Weaponization is the right name for this federal subcommittee. Not because weaponization of the government is targeted. But because weaponization of government is its purpose,” Raskin said.

“The odd name of the weaponization subcommittee constitutes a case of pure psychological projection.”

A second panel included Jonathan Turley, an attorney and often-used Republican witness, as well as two former FBI agents, including James Baker, who penned the book “The Fall of the FBI: How a Once Great Agency Became a Threat to Democracy.”

In questions with the witnesses, lawmakers' own assessments of the FBI were on display.

“We come not to trash the FBI, but to rescue the FBI from political capture,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

Gaetz, a last-minute addition to the panel in place of Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), was previously under investigation by the Justice Department in connection with a sex-trafficking probe, but career prosecutors recommended against charging him.

Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.), who served as counsel to House Democrats in the first impeachment of Trump, asked Jordan to turn over transcripts of its interviews with the FBI whistleblowers they’ve spoken with.

He also said it was the former president who politicized the agency.

“I worked in the Department of Justice for 10 years alongside a lot of FBI special agents, and their biggest concern and the most damage to the morale of the FBI occurred after Donald Trump started attacking the FBI because he was being attacked by the FBI. And that is what this subcommittee is all about,” he said.

Republicans introduce second impeachment article for Mayorkas

GOP lawmakers banded together to file an additional resolution that would impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, filing a second bill to do so less than a month into the new Congress.

The resolution filed Wednesday comes after its sponsor, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), promised a resolution with “even more justification” than a first resolution filed immediately after the Speaker’s race concluded.

Biggs called Mayorkas “chief architect of the migration and drug invasion at our southern border” in a press release announcing the move and argued the uptick in migration is a result of a “willful and intentional” violation of Mayorkas’s oath of office. 

But Biggs’s efforts clash with those in the party who say impeachment should follow a thorough inquiry, a promise House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made in November when he said the GOP would “investigate every order, every action” to determine whether to begin an inquiry.

House Republicans are split over how to pursue the topic and how speedily to do so. 

“We made the argument that impeachment was rushed — the second impeachment — and I think that’s not who we are as a party,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) previously told The Hill in reference to the second impeachment of former President Trump.

He said it’s the committees of jurisdiction that should be leading the inquiry.

“We need to have hearings on this and we need to gather evidence and facts and, look, do I think the guy has done a terrible job? Yes,“ McCaul said. “Do I think he’s been derelict in his responsibilities? Yes. But we need to get all this together, and do it in a methodical way.”

Biggs's resolution is largely based on the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which requires the Homeland Security secretary “take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control” of the border.

But the law, true to its name, primarily deals with fencing. It says the the secretary should weigh operational control for the border in regards to both surveillance and “physical infrastructure enhancements.”

Only one Cabinet member has been impeached in history — former President Grant’s secretary of war, William Belknap, who was accused of taking kickbacks from a contractor he appointed to run the trader post in Fort Sill, Okla. Belknap resigned before facing an almost-certain Senate conviction, a fate that’s unlikely to play out with Mayorkas given the Democratic majority in the upper chamber.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) didn’t immediately respond to request for comment, but the agency has previously noted Mayorkas has no plans to resign.

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people.  The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” DHS said after the introduction of the first resolution. 

“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which they have not updated in over 40 years.”

Jim Jordan wields the gavel — and new power

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the pugnacious lawmaker who has been one of former President Trump’s top defenders, has long had a microphone. But now, Jordan has something he’s long sought: a gavel.

Once a thorn in the side of House GOP leaders, Jordan has been elevated to be a top attack dog against Democrats. With the new power to not only direct congressional hearings but utilize subpoenas, Jordan will be both a standard-bearer for the GOP base and a sculptor of the Washington political landscape for the next two years.

In Jordan’s debut hearing as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, the first in a series planned on examining border and migration policies, he made clear that his fiery style is sticking around as his power increases. 

He accused the Biden administration of intentionally not having “operational control” of the border. 

“Month after month after month, we have set records for migrants coming into the country. … It seems deliberate. It seems premeditated. It seems intentional,” Jordan said.

The comment lays the groundwork for potential impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a process Jordan would oversee.

Jordan’s fast-talking, confrontational style is exactly what House GOP members like to see from him — and what sets off alarm bells for Democrats.

“Jordan has many talents, and one of them is that he can speak extremely rapidly. So I tell members, the key thing is to take notes on what he's saying so you don't forget about some drive-by fallacies or mischaracterizations that you might forget about by the end of the statement,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and ranking member on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.

“I always feel like there is a real three-dimensional human being struggling to get out behind the rapid-fire, right-wing polemicist that we see on stage. But everybody thinks I'm an optimist,” Raskin said.

GOP members, on the other hand, praised Jordan for how he has led Republicans on the panel. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that Jordan is "very good at not monopolizing time" and ensures that other members have time to talk. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) praised Jordan for elevating members based on their talents rather than by seniority.

“If you've got a band, there's some people who won't hire a guitarist who's better than them or a drummer who's better than them, and so the band suffers. Jim Jordan is the opposite of that,” Massie said.

But Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who has clashed with Jordan on antitrust issues, was more terse. “He's going to get some feedback instead of giving feedback all the time," he said of Jordan holding the gavel.

In addition to taking a look at policies on the border, major topics for Jordan-led investigations by the Judiciary panel will include GOP allegations of political bias at the Department of Justice and FBI as well as in big tech and social media.

Jordan’s overall popularity in the House GOP was on display during Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) battle to win the Speakership. Some of the 20 members who forced McCarthy into a drawn-out floor fight nominated and voted for Jordan instead.

Jordan, a founder of the confrontational House Freedom Caucus, had challenged McCarthy to lead House Republicans in 2018. 

But Jordan supported McCarthy for Speaker, saying that his priority was to oversee investigations. After the 2018 challenge, Jordan was elevated to be ranking member on the Oversight panel and then switched over to be ranking member of the Judiciary panel.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of the members who voted for Jordan to be Speaker, said Jordan is “our hardest-working, most talented number.”

Jordan is also heading up a new GOP select subcommittee formed with the goal of investigating the “weaponization” of the federal government, which is expected to probe deeper into alleged political bias in the Department of Justice and FBI, including its role in investigating former President Trump.

It’s a role that will leave the fiery Jordan front and center in representing the GOP, this time imbued with subpoena power as he works to arm-wrestle Biden administration agencies previously under little obligation to comply with minority oversight.

Much of the work of the weaponization subcommittee can pick up where Jordan and the larger Judiciary Committee left off.

Last year, he sent more than 100 letters to the FBI and Justice Department ahead of his own expected probes of the two agencies.

“The gavel changes a lot. His questions are now going to be answered where he has sent out hundreds of letters … that have been ignored for as much as four years between two committees,” Issa said.

The weaponization subcommittee was established with some unique powers, including the power to oversee “ongoing criminal investigations.” 

That allows the 15 lawmakers on the 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. 

Democrats fear the panel could be used to interfere with multiple ongoing probes, including into former President Trump for his role in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, riot as well as the mishandling of classified records at his Florida home.

“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,” Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said.

GOP divided in rush to impeach Mayorkas

Tensions are rising in the GOP House over how to tackle a topic many back enthusiastically: impeaching Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Republicans are largely unified in opposition to the secretary, but while some want to go full bore right away, others see fast-track impeachment as a mistake, warning that it's important to build their case before the public.

“We made the argument that impeachment was rushed — the second impeachment — and I think that's not who we are as a party,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a former prosecutor, in reference to the second impeachment of former President Trump.

McCaul said it's the committees of jurisdiction that should be leading the inquiry.

“We need to have hearings on this and we need to gather evidence and facts and, look, do I think the guy has done a terrible job? Yes,“ McCaul said. “Do I think he's been derelict in his responsibilities? Yes. But we need to get all this together, and do it in a methodical way.”

In some corners, Republicans are lining up at the chance to impeach Mayorkas.

After Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) filed articles of impeachment against the secretary this week, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) quickly pledged his own resolution while suggesting he was the one who had actually taken the impeachment action first.

“I was the first Member of Congress to introduce impeachment articles against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in 2021,” Biggs wrote on Twitter. “I will reintroduce these articles with even more justification very soon.”

Balancing the different interests will be another challenge for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has signaled he supports a deliberate approach.

“House Republicans will investigate every order, every action. And every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” he said in November, during a trip to the border.

Twenty lawmakers have signed on to Fallon’s resolution. While he said he doesn't want to preclude any investigation, Fallon wants to prompt his colleagues to start them immediately. 

“I think it's of vital import to get the ball rolling immediately. Because this is an emergency. This is break glass. This is something that we can't just sit around any longer and say, ‘Well, we'll do it in a month, we'll take it up in four months.’ Let's take it up right now,” he told The Hill.

Building a case for Mayorkas’s impeachment may not be as easy as some of his critics think.

For example, Fallon argues that Mayorkas lied to Congress in two different appearances, when saying both that the Biden administration has maintained operational control of the border and that the border is secure. 

Both points are largely a matter of opinion; impeachment statutes are typically reserved for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“Impeachment is a very serious topic, and it's one where the facts need to lead you to the results, not have a predetermined decision,” said Rep. Tony Gonzales (R), who represents the Texas district with the longest shared border with Mexico.

Homeland Security officials, so far, have not assigned staff to deal with potential impeachment inquiries.

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people.  The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system," said Marsha Espinosa, a spokesperson for DHS.

“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which they have not updated in over 40 years,” she added.

Ultimately, Republicans who support impeachment and those who oppose it will have to make their case to McCarthy and his leadership team, who will weigh the costs and benefits of spending political capital on a historic measure with scant chances in the Senate.

Impeaching Mayorkas in the House would require a majority vote. In the Senate, a two-thirds majority would be necessary to win a conviction — a high bar.

Only one Cabinet member has been impeached in history — former President Grant’s secretary of war, William Belknap, who was accused of taking kickbacks from a contractor he appointed to run the trader post in Fort Sill, Okla. Belknap resigned before facing an almost-certain Senate conviction, a fate that's unlikely to play out with Mayorkas.

Other Republicans who spoke with The Hill stressed the need to go through the proper oversight channels, rather than leap into impeachment.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.), whose panel would be among those with jurisdiction over Mayorkas’s impeachment, was animated when he spoke about the opportunity to remove the DHS chief, pushing their own coming investigation.

“We're going to hold him accountable. That's what we're going to do. We're going to have hearings and dig into what I would say is dereliction of duty,” he said.

“All I can speak about is what we're going to do in the committee and that is a five-phased approach of tackling the fight.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said the GOP needed to handle the matter in “the appropriate way.”

“I've been very public about my belief that he has violated his oath, that he has undermined our ability to defend our country,” he said.

“But I'm on the House Judiciary Committee in the majority now and so I'm going to talk to [Chair] Jim [Jordan] (R-Ohio) and talk to people on that committee to make sure that we're going through this and looking at it in the appropriate way.” 

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who was initially by McCarthy’s side for the November border trip as he stressed an eventual inquiry, has signed onto Fallon’s resolution as a co-sponsor, saying he believes Cabinet secretaries can be impeached over their policies.

“People argue about this legally, you can impeach a president because you just don't like his policies. In theory that could be considered a high crime or misdemeanor according to the current legal analysis,” he said.

“I just decided I agree with Fallon. That's basically as simple as I can put it.”

Texas Republican files articles of impeachment against Mayorkas

A Texas Republican has filed articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, wasting little time in the new Congress to act on a GOP priority leadership has said would come after thorough investigation.

Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) filed the paperwork for the resolution on Jan. 3, the first day of the 118th Congress, though with delays in securing a House Speaker, the document was officially filed late Monday.

The resolution claims Mayorkas “engaged in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with his duties,” complaining that he has failed to maintain operational control over the border.

The resolution comes amid a busy week in the Biden administration. President Biden visited the border over the weekend for the first time since taking office, pledging to deliver more resources to the officers who patrol the region.

And Mayorkas is in Mexico this week, meeting with officials there on a variety of issues, including the shared migration agreement rolled out by the Biden administration last week.

Mayorkas is also due to discuss coordination on transnational crime with Mexican authorities.

Fallon’s resolution won’t move without further action from GOP leadership, but it would otherwise jump-start a process House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has treaded carefully on.

“House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso, Texas, in November.

Still, impeachment charges against Mayorkas were all but certain under Republican control of the House, as the DHS secretary has been a constant foil for the party during the Biden administration.

Republicans claim that under Biden, the DHS has dismantled the border security apparatus built under former President Trump, leading to border chaos.

The primary basis for the articles of impeachment is the claim that Mayorkas lied to Congress — a case they back by pointing to two instances in which the secretary told lawmakers he believed the Southern border was under control.

“His willful actions erode our immigration system, undermine border patrol morale, and imperil American national security. He must be removed from office,” Fallon said in a release.

DHS said Tuesday that Mayorkas has no plans to resign and argued that the grounds for impeachment pointed to by the GOP were both inaccurate and failed to meet the standards to qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Marsha Espinosa said in a statement.

“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which they have not updated in over 40 years.”

Most border and immigration analysts agree that increased migration due to security, economic and governance conditions in the Western Hemisphere is the primary reason for the high number of migrants encountered at the border.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, left, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speak before a meeting with President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

And Mayorkas has taken flak both from the right and the left, as the DHS has maintained many of the Trump administration's border policies, which immigrant advocates say violate human rights.

Still, Republicans see the border as a winning issue for them, and Mayorkas is the Biden administration's face on that issue.

Mayorkas, the first Latino to ever hold that post, has often butted heads with congressional Republicans at oversight hearings.

In April, Mayorkas clashed with Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, including a notable exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) over the agency's record on deportations from the interior of the country.

That combative exchange could set the tone for impeachment proceedings.

The potential for a political circus is concerning for Republicans fresh off a nationally televised Speaker's race that highlighted divisions in the party.

Some Republicans have expressed reservations about going after Mayorkas without careful study. 

“You’ve got to build a case. You need the facts, evidence before you indict,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“Has he been derelict in his responsibilities? I think so,” he added.

—Updated at 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 6 committee’s referrals may ‘stiffen the spine’ of prosecutors

Plans from the House Jan. 6 committee to imminently release its list of criminal referrals is raising questions over how far the panel will go in implicating former President Trump and his allies in a plot that culminated in last year's deadly attack on the Capitol.

Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters Tuesday that the committee had come to a “general agreement” to send criminal referrals to the Justice Department.

It’s a move that would allow the panel to put a finer point on its more than yearlong investigation, naming names and detailing specific statutes that were violated in an effort they have repeatedly said was a lawless campaign to block the peaceful transfer of power.

And while it would still be up to the Justice Department to act on the recommendations, it could put pressure on a department that, at least publicly, has trailed the committee in its own review of the Capitol riot.

“They stiffen the spine of state and federal prosecutors by encouraging them to act,” Norm Eisen, counsel for Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment, said of the referrals on a call with reporters.

Legal experts have for some time argued there are a number of statutes that could be used for a possible Trump prosecution, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. 

But a remaining question with respect to the committee is just how broad they will go in outlining possible illegal behavior among allies.

“This is what we're discussing as we go into the last days of our work on this important investigation,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of the committee’s members, said in a Wednesday morning interview on NPR.

“And that is, what would the impact of our referrals be if we make referrals, against whom and for what offenses?”

Justice Department subpoenas

The Justice Department previewed the span of its investigation in a November request made public this week, sending subpoenas to local officials in three states — Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — asking for any communications with just under 20 Trump campaign officials and associates.

That group includes a wide array of lawyers working in different capacities on behalf of the campaign, like Rudy Giuliani as well as John Eastman, who crafted memos encouraging former Vice President Mike Pence to buck his ceremonial duty to certify the election results. All were involved in efforts in seven key states where Trump lost to President Biden igniting a push by the campaign to send false slates of electors from each.

Others listed on the subpoena include campaign manager Bill Stepien, whose testimony critical of Trump’s efforts was shared by the panel, and Bernard Kerik, an aide to Giuliani in investigating the debunked claims of fraud being pushed by Trump.

How far could referrals go?

But a referral from the committee could cast a wider net, particularly in regard to those within government who assisted with Trump’s efforts. That includes then-chief of staff Mark Meadows as well as Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump weighed installing as attorney general to force an investigation into his baseless claims of election fraud.

Some members of the committee have suggested the referrals could go beyond Trump alone.

“We're all very mindful of who is responsible. We have laid out in our hearings the role that the former president played in Jan. 6, and in supporting and pointing to the U.S. Capitol and telling his supporters to come out here. … That's not lost on any of us,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, said in an interview with CNN.

But getting it right, Aguilar went on to say, means “telling the truth and make sure that within the time that we have that we ask every available question and that we aren't shy about making suggestions and recommendations, both to protect the United States Capitol as well as to hold people accountable.”

There are a bounty of statutes Justice Department lawyers could use to charge those involved in the plot to remain in power.

A federal judge in California has already determined that Trump, in coordination with Eastman, likely committed conspiracy to defraud the U.S. as well as another crime, obstruction of an official proceeding, triggered by the use of violence. 

The ruling from Judge David Carter came in a civil case in which Eastman challenged his obligation to turn documents over to the committee.

Beyond federal crimes, the Trump effort could violate various state statutes — a dynamic already seen in Georgia as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) conducts her own investigation into a push there to “find” additional votes for Trump and challenge the election results with faulty claims of fraud.

Prosecuting Jan. 6 cases

But top of mind for prosecutors will be whether they can successfully win a guilty verdict in incredibly high-profile cases, a feat that could be more challenging for certain statutes that require demonstrating intent.

The Justice Department also has a mixed track record when it comes to taking the committee’s suggestions.

The panel, and later the full House, voted to censure four individuals subpoenaed by the committee who they say failed to comply with their subpoenas.

The Justice Department brought cases against two of the figures — onetime White House strategist Stephen Bannon and Trump adviser Peter Navarro. But it declined to do so in the case of Meadows — who did provide some requested documents sought by the committee — or Dan Scavino, Trump’s communications guru.

DOJ may want more than referrals

The decision on referrals comes after the panel formed a subcommittee of its four lawyers to evaluate the decision and make specific recommendations.

Eisen said while any referrals would likely include legal analysis and statute-by-statute recommendations, the Justice Department may be more eager to get other intel from the committee.

“The roadmap, the evidence — that's the most critical part. If I'm a prosecutor, I would much rather have the evidence than the legal analysis and conclusion that you should charge,” he said.

The committee has thus far resisted calls from the Justice Department to share its work, even after the panel agreed to share some 20 transcripts with investigators. Thompson said they were never turned over as the committee “just made a decision not to,” advising that the agency would get the final report along with the public.

Schiff said that was a detail weighing on the committee.

“How much should we detail the evidence, knowing that the Justice Department has sources of evidence that we don't, that it was able to enforce certain subpoenas and compel testimony that we have not been able to?” he said. 

“So in some ways, I think the information we provide will exceed that of the department. In other areas, they have more evidence than we do.”

McCarthy Speaker quest leaves balancing act on national security

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is toeing a delicate line on national security issues in the lame-duck session as he seeks to win enough votes on the House floor to win the Speakership in January.

McCarthy is torn between competing factions of the GOP as he weighs a series of moves targeting the Biden administration and other Washington Democrats in the next Congress — all while trying to convince conservative GOP lawmakers to back him for Speaker.

He’s vowed to boot California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He’s also threatened to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his handling of the southern border.

And McCarthy has indicated he will withhold GOP support for a lame-duck vote on a bipartisan defense policy bill as a way to fight “wokeism” in the military.  

If the delay is successful, it would mark the first time in more than 60 years that has Congress failed to reauthorize Pentagon spending by the end of a calendar year; the delay would allow a GOP House to take it up next year.

Democrats have blasted McCarthy’s plans to boot Democrats from panels as purely political, while Republicans say Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) set Congress on that slippery slope when House Democrats impeached former President Trump twice and later expelled two Republicans from their committee seats.

The House voted last year to punish Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for sharing an animated video showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) was removed months earlier for promoting the execution of leading Democrats before she was elected to office. 

McCarthy blamed Democrats for “this new standard.”

“Never in the history [of Congress] have you had the majority tell the minority who can be on committee,” McCarthy said at the start of 2022. “This is a new level of what the Democrats have done.”

For Schiff, McCarthy has zeroed in on his role in the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, accusing him of lying to the public about the former president’s ties to Moscow and Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine. He’s bashed Swalwell for his ties to a Chinese spy with whom he cut off contact after being warned of her true identity by the FBI.

Schiff said his targeting is nothing more than an effort by McCarthy to win support for his Speakership bid.

McCarthy was elected Speaker-designate in a closed-door GOP conference vote, but lost 31 votes. He will need to win over many of them to be elected Speaker on the House floor.

“McCarthy’s problem is not with what I have said about Russia. McCarthy’s problem is, he can’t get to 218 without Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz,” Schiff said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union." 

“And so he will do whatever they ask. And, right now, they’re asking for me to be removed from our committees. And he’s willing to do it. He’s willing to do anything they ask.”

The Mayorkas fight reflects the awkward line that McCarthy is trying to walk.

He courted conservative votes last week by vowing an investigation of Mayorkas but did not fully embrace an impeachment vote, allowing himself wiggle room to change his mind next year.

“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate. Every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso, Texas.

In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) expressed doubt the GOP would be able to impeach Mayorkas swiftly.

“You’ve got to build a case. You need the facts, evidence before you indict. Has he been derelict in his responsibilities? I think so,” he said.

Other Republicans, however, want to go full steam ahead, suggesting anything short of Mayorkas’s removal would put the country’s security at risk.

“He needs to go,” Rep. Ronnie Jackson (R-Texas) told Fox News on Sunday. “We need to make an example of Mayorkas. And he will be just the start of what we do in this new Congress.”

Other Republicans have dismissed an impeachment vote as a stunt.

“It would basically be putting form over substance to go through a big performance on impeachment that’s never going anywhere,” former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a George W. Bush appointee, said over the weekend, “rather than actually working with the administration to solve the problem.”

McCarthy also faces divisions on delaying the defense bill, as some Republicans want to move forward and also pull back from threats to limit support for Ukraine. 

McCarthy says he wants to pump the breaks on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and another round of funding to aid Ukraine in its battle against Russia, saying he wouldn’t back a “blank check.”

“I’ve watched what the Democrats have done on many of these things, especially the NDAA — the wokeism that they want to bring in there,” McCarthy told reporters shortly after the midterms. “I actually believe the NDAA should hold up until the 1st of this year — and let’s get it right.”

McCarthy is far from the only Republican with complaints about the NDAA. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) put out a report slamming the “Woke Warfighters” of the Pentagon. But McCarthy is also facing pressure from the right.

“Let’s hold the bill hostage. Let’s leverage what we have,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who opposes McCarthy’s Speakership bid, recently said on a podcast. 

Democrats and the Biden administration argue a delay will hurt the military.

“If you kick it off four, five, six months, you are really damaging the United States military. So I hope Kevin McCarthy understands that,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said. “You are damaging the United States military every day past Oct. 1 that you don’t get it done, and certainly more so every day past" Jan. 1.

On Ukraine, some Republicans have bristled at the idea of holding back any funding as the country continues to make advances against Russia.

“We're going to make certain they get what they need,” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said in an appearance alongside McCaul.

“The fact is, we are going to provide more oversight, transparency and accountability. We're not going to write a blank check,” McCaul added. “Does that diminish our will to help the Ukraine people fight? No. But we're going to do it in a responsible way.”