New report shows Mike Johnson’s role as pivotal ‘architect’ of 2020 election denial efforts in House

Mild-mannered House Speaker “MAGA” Mike Johnson is not a headline-seeking showboater when it comes to election denialism. Instead, he largely avoided attention as he worked to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And now he’ll be holding the gavel when the House reconvenes on Tuesday with one of its main priorities being continuing the baseless impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.

You won’t find Johnson engaging in over-the-top provocative actions, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene did when she posed with QAnon Shaman Jacob Chansley during a December meeting in Arizona of Turning Point USA, a right-wing youth group. And on Jan. 6, 2021, Johnson avoided direct involvement in the “Stop the Steal” rally outside the White House that ended in the attack on the Capitol. But he did play a key role in providing the legal fig leaf that enabled 147 Republican lawmakers—139 House members and eight senators—to vote against approving the Electoral College count and Joe Biden’s victory.

RELATED STORY: Profiles in cowardice: Three years after Jan. 6, GOP leaders won't hold Trump accountable

Johnson was not among the six Republican lawmakers—including current House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio and Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona—who were subpoenaed to appear before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.  Johnson received just one passing mention in the committee’s final report, Politico reported.

But a report released last week by the Congressional Integrity Project to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection highlighted Johnson’s role as “congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, advocating an interpretation of the Constitution so outlandish that not even the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority could swallow it,” reported the Brennan Center for Justice.

Politico wrote:

A relatively junior House Republican at the time, Johnson was nevertheless the leading voice in support of a fateful position: that the GOP should rally around Donald Trump and object to counting electoral votes submitted by at least a handful of states won by Joe Biden.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio was the most prominent public face of the congressional effort to fight the results of the 2020 election, his mentee, the newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson, was a silent but pivotal partner.
So let’s take a closer look at Johnson’s record as a propagator of the Big Lie, because it exposes the danger of what might happen if there is another close presidential election and the GOP retains control of the House with Johnson as speaker.

“You don’t want people who falsely claim the last election was stolen to be in a position of deciding who won the next one,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Associated Press.

“Johnson is more dangerous because he wrapped up his attempt to subvert the election outcomes in lawyerly and technical language,” Hasen said.

Before being elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson, a constitutional law attorney, served as senior legal counsel from 2002-2010 for the Alliance Defense Fund (now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom), a Christian conservative legal advocacy group that opposes abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. Johnson himself wrote opinion pieces against marriage equality and endorsing briefs filed by the ADF meant to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults, Rolling Stone reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center designated the ADF as a hate group in 2016.

So it was no surprise that Johnson sent out this tweet on Nov. 7, 2020, when media outlets largely called the race for Biden:

I have just called President Trump to say this: "Stay strong and keep fighting, sir! The nation is depending upon your resolve. We must exhaust every available legal remedy to restore Americans' trust in the fairness of our election system."

— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) November 7, 2020

Two days later, Johnson sent out another tweet indicating that he was in regular contact with Trump:

President Trump called me last night and I was encouraged to hear his continued resolve to ensure that every LEGAL vote gets properly counted and that all instances of fraud and illegality are investigated and prosecuted. Fair elections are worth fighting for!

— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) November 9, 2020

Politico wrote that in an interview with a Louisiana-based radio host on Nov. 9, Johnson added details on his call with Trump and made clear that “they already had their eye on a Supreme Court showdown.” Johnson said he thought “there’s at least five justices on the court that will do the right thing.”

Then on Nov. 17, Johnson repeated the debunked claim put forth by Trump lawyers that there was an international conspiracy to hack Dominion voting machines so Trump would lose the election, The Associated Press reported. The AP quoted Johnson as saying:

“In every election in American history, there’s some small element of fraud, irregularity,” Johnson said in the interview. “But when you have it on a broad scale, when you have a software system that is used all around the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, when you have testimonials of people like this, it demands to be litigated.”

As more states moved to confirm their election results, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a hail-Mary lawsuit in early December asking the Supreme Court to reject the election results in four states carried by Biden—Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—on the basis that those states introduced pandemic-related changes to election procedures that were illegal.

In Congress, Johnson, who had served on Trump’s first impeachment defense team in early 2020, helped lead the effort to get 126 Republican lawmakers to sign an amicus brief supporting the Texas lawsuit. Johnson tweeted:

President Trump called me this morning to let me know how much he appreciates the amicus brief we are filing on behalf of Members of Congress. Indeed, "this is the big one!"

— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) December 9, 2020

Then on Dec. 11, in a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the Texas lawsuit. On Dec. 14, the electoral college members met in their states to cast their ballots for president. That same day Johnson said in a radio interview that Congress still had the final say on whether to accept Biden’s electors on Jan. 6, 2021, Politico reported.

On Jan. 5, Johnson met with fellow GOP House members in a closed-door meeting to discuss what they should do in Congress the next day.

Politico wrote:

”This is a very weighty decision. All of us have prayed for God’s discernment. I know I’ve prayed for each of you individually,” Johnson said at the meeting, according to a record of his comments obtained by POLITICO, before urging his fellow Republicans to join him in opposing the results.

On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, just hours before the mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Johnson tweeted:

Rep. Mike Johnson, Jan. 6, 2021: “We MUST fight for election integrity, the Constitution, and the preservation of our republic!  It will be my honor to help lead that fight in the Congress today.”

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) October 25, 2023

After the mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Johnson condemned the violence, according to The New York Times, but he defended the actions of Republican lawmakers to object to Biden’s victory. And when Congress reconvened, more than half of the House GOP caucus supported objections to Biden’s victory.

In an October 2022 report published weeks before the midterm election, The New York Times emphasized Johnson’s role in the vote:

In formal statements justifying their votes, about three-quarters relied on the arguments of a low-profile Louisiana congressman, Representative Mike Johnson, the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.

On the eve of the Jan. 6 votes, he presented colleagues with what he called a “third option.” He faulted the way some states had changed voting procedures during the pandemic, saying it was unconstitutional, without supporting the outlandish claims of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters. His Republican critics called it a Trojan horse that allowed lawmakers to vote with the president while hiding behind a more defensible case. …

Even lawmakers who had been among the noisiest “stop the steal” firebrands took refuge in Mr. Johnson’s narrow and lawyerly claims, though his nuanced argument was lost on the mob storming the Capitol, and over time it was the vision of the rioters — that a Democratic conspiracy had defrauded America — that prevailed in many Republican circles.

Johnson has not wavered from his position that he and other House GOP members had been right to object to the election results. 

In its report, the Congressional Integrity Project noted that Johnson had voted against creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, calling it “a third impeachment.” He also voted against holding former White House adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 select committee.

And just months before the House GOP caucus voted unanimously in October to install Johnson as speaker, he gave oxygen to the baseless conspiracy theory held by right-wing Republicans that federal agents orchestrated the Jan. 6 insurrection. He alleged that FBI Director Christopher Wray was “hiding something” about the FBI’s presence in the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Congressional Integrity Project reported.

In November, Johnson fulfilled a promise he made to far-right members of the House GOP caucus in order to secure the speaker’s post when he announced plans to publicly release thousands of hours of security camera video footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, blurring the faces of individual protesters. Earlier last year, then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson used selectively edited security camera footage to make the claim that Jan. 6 was largely a peaceful protest and the demonstrators were “not insurrectionists, they were sightseers.”

In its report, the Congressional Integrity Project said one of the biggest dangers is that the attempted Jan. 6, 2021 coup never ended because Johnson and the same Trump allies behind that insurrection are now fully behind the sham Biden impeachment effort.

These Republicans include Johnson, Jordan, Comer, and such firebrands as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, the report said.

With the report, Kyle Herrig, the executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, issued a statement that read:

“The same MAGA Republicans who led Donald Trump’s deadly insurrection and attempt to overthrow an election he knew he lost, are the same ones pushing the bogus impeachment of President Biden. MAGA Republicans are a threat to all Americans and our democracy. They will stop at nothing to pursue their radical, out-of-touch agenda, including violence. All of their actions on behalf of the disgraced former president in an attempt to distract from his 91 criminal indictments and help him return to the White House in 2024—and they don’t care who stands in their way.”

RELATED STORY: House GOP kicks off a new year of dysfunction with another impeachment

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House GOP conducts discredited Biden-Burisma probe that Zelenskyy wouldn’t do as ‘favor’ for Trump

Remember that “perfect” phone call in July 2019 that led to President Donald Trump’s first impeachment? That’s the call in which Trump asked Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to do “a favor” for him—namely to speak with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, related to the Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma.

The call came just a week after the White House had ordered the State Department and Pentagon to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine that had already been authorized. Despite the pressure, Zelenskyy didn’t announce any such investigation, which might have derailed Biden’s presidential campaign.

But now Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is doing the very favor for Trump that Zelenskyy wouldn’t do. And it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the embattled former president, who is facing a federal indictment for mishandling classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort. 

RELATED STORY: Trump plays victim and savior

Comer had threatened to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for failure to turn over an FBI document created in June 2020 that contained unsubstantiated allegations from a confidential source in Ukraine about Joe and Hunter Biden. Comer said a “whistleblower” had informed lawmakers about the FBI document.

The Washington Post wrote: “It is not hard to figure out why this is unfolding the way it is unfolding. There’s an enormous appetite on the right at the moment for evidence that the FBI and Justice Department are deploying a double standard or that Biden deserves to face criminal charges just as much as former president Donald Trump.”

The allegations that Comer wants to investigate relate to the Bidens and Burisma. And this latest political stunt by Comer could backfire like others.

It’s possible that the committee is simply regurgitating Russian disinformation. The U.S. intelligence community, in an unclassified report released in March 2021 said that “Ukraine-linked individuals with ties to Russian intelligence engaged in activities targeting the 2020 U.S. presidential election,” including “alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family, and other U.S. officials and Ukraine.”

“a bunch of malarkey”

Wray had cited the need to protect confidential sources in refusing to turn over the document. But the FBI director eventually relented and allowed all the members of the Oversight Committee to view the redacted document, known as an FD-1023 form, usually a report about information relating to alleged crimes provided to the FBI by an informant.   

Wray insisted that the committee members view the document in a secure room known as a SCIF, for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, on Capitol Hill. The viewing occurred on Thursday, just hours before Trump broke the news about his indictment.

It’s unknown why the FBI insisted that committee members view the document in a SCIF. But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wasted no time in rushing out of the room to take notes and reveal the contents of the document to reporters.

RELATED STORY: You have to see Marjorie Taylor Greene's plan to 'take down the Deep State'

Greene and fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida both said Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky allegedly told an FBI source that he had paid $5 million apiece to Hunter Biden and then-Vice President Biden in an attempt to avoid a corruption investigation, the New York Post reported.

“It was all a bribe to get (former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor) Shokin fired,” Greene said in a video that she posted on Twitter. She concluded by saying: “We are going to continue following this investigation; we are going to continue to look into every single thing that we can uncover.”

President Biden dismissed the bribery allegations as a “bunch of malarkey.”

The claim that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin because he was investigating Burisma has been totally debunked. The evidence shows Biden was carrying out U.S. policy when he went to Kyiv and warned then-president Petro Poroshenko that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees until Shokin was removed as prosecutor general. The International Monetary Fund also threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine because Shokin wasn’t pursuing corruption cases.

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, an independent agency, has said Burisma was not even under investigation when Biden was pushing for Shokin’s removal. But the facts haven’t stopped Republicans from claiming that the FBI form proves that the Bidens took millions in bribes. 

The day after Trump’s indictment, the Murdoch-owned New York Post had a front-page cover with photos of both Biden and Trump with the headline “Hail to the Thiefs” and subheadlines “Trump indicted for taking classified documents” and “Ukraine bizman: ‘I bribed Biden for $10M.”

Trump complained that his federal indictment came on the same day that House Republicans gained access to the FBI document, so the bribery allegations got less attention in the news media.

"It's no coincidence they indicted me the very same day it was revealed that the FBI had explosive evidence that Joe Biden took a $5 billion illegal bribe from Ukraine," Trump said Saturday from the North Carolina Republican Party Convention.

questioning credibility

But as independent journalist Ed Krassenstein pointed out in a tweet, there are many reasons to question the credibility of the information provided to the FBI in the FD-1023 form that has so excited the MAGAverse.

Breaking: The Bribery allegations that Comer, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Republicans have been touting are concerning Burisma. While Republicans are making the claim that the allegations “100%” prove that Biden committed bribery, let’s take a step back and evaluate where the…

— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) June 8, 2023

Moreover, The Washington Post reported that the FBI and Justice Department under then-Attorney General William Barr had reviewed the allegations from the confidential informant and “determined there were no grounds for further investigative steps.”

The Post wrote:

The allegation contained in the document was reviewed by the FBI at the time and was found to not be supported by facts, and the investigation was subsequently dropped with the Trump Justice Department’s sign-off, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

Barr said the information in the June 2020 FBI form was passed along to U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, who began an investigation into Hunter Biden’s overseas business ties and consulting work in 2018. That would mean Weiss, a holdover from the Trump administration, has been in possession of the information for three years, but has not acted on it.

The Washington Post reported that Weiss is nearing a decision on whether to charge Hunter Biden for relatively minor tax- and gun-related violations. The newspaper reported last year that federal agents had concluded that they had enough evidence to charge Biden with failing to report all of his income on tax filings and lying on a form for a gun purchase by denying that he had substance abuse problems.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, wrote in a statement that “much of the information provided by the source (in the June 2020 form) was information Mr. Giuliani had already provided the FBI.” Raskin added:

“We now know what I had long suspected: that Chairman Comer’s subpoena is about recycling stale and debunked Burisma conspiracy theories long peddled by Rudy Giuliani and a Russian agent, sanctioned by former President Trump’s own Treasury Department, as part of the effort to smear President Biden and help Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign.”

That Russian agent Raskin is apparently referring to is Andriy Derkach, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament who represented various pro-Russian parties. Among them was the Party of Regions headed by ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which paid millions of dollars to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to work as a consultant.

Here’s how The Washington Post described Derkach’s background:

Derkach, a former member of Ukraine’s Russia-leaning Party of Regions, was educated at the Higher School of the KGB in Moscow before entering business and politics in independent Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse. His father was a longtime KGB officer who later ran independent Ukraine’s intelligence service in the late 1990s and early 2000s before losing his position amid a scandal over Ukrainian authorities’ involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a prominent journalist.

Derkach was mentioned by name by the National Intelligence Council, consisting of the CIA, NSA, and five other U.S. intelligence agencies, in its March 2021 assessment of “Foreign Threats to the 2020 US Federal Elections.” The report read:

“We assess that President Putin and other senior Russian officials were aware of and probably directed Russia’s influence operations against the 2020 US Presidential election. For example, we assess that Putin had purview over the activities of Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator who played a prominent role in Russia’s election influence activities. Derkach has ties to Russian officials as well as Russia’s intelligence services.”

It added:

A network of Ukraine-linked individuals—including Russian influence agent Konstantin Kilimnik—who were also connected to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) took steps throughout the election cycle to damage US ties to Ukraine, denigrate President Biden and his candidacy, and benefit former President Trump’s prospects for reelection.  


Derkach, Kilimnik, and their associates sought to use prominent US persons and media conduits to launder their narratives to US officials and audiences. These Russian proxies met with and provided materials to Trump administration-linked US persons to advocate for formal investigations; hired a US firm to petition US officials; and attempted to make contact with several senior US officials. They also made contact with established US media figures and helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020.  

That U.S. television network was One America News Network. Media Matters for America said the right-wing cable station has a “notable history of acting as a mouthpiece for Russian propaganda,” including spoon-feeding its viewers Kremlin-backed propaganda about the war in Ukraine.

giuliani and derkach

In early December 2019, as the House was moving to impeach Trump, Giuliani traveled to Kyiv with an OAN crew to work on the documentary aired in January 2020. That’s when he met Derkach for the first time, TIME magazine reported. Derkach’s press office released this photo of his meeting with Giuliani, which was posted on his Facebook page that was later banned.

"In this handout photo provided by Adriii Derkach's press office, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for U.S President Donald Trump, left, meets in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Dec. 5, 2019 with Derkach, who was later named an "active Russian agent" by the U.S. government."

— Markus T (@dforthandbview) October 16, 2020

Derkach had caught Giuliani’s attention when he held a November 2019 press conference in Kyiv to push his conspiracy theory of “DemoCorruption,” which holds “that Biden sits atop a vast system of graft that permeates the Democratic Party and colludes with George Soros and other Western billionaires,” TIME said.

Derkach had also been pushing the Kremlin-backed theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign on behalf of Clinton. When Time reporter Simon Shuster visited Derkach in his Kyiv office in 2021, he said Derkach handed him a folder labeled “Reports About Record-Setting Bribe,” which included press clippings, printouts from Twitter, and a letter that Derkach sent to U.S. Senate members accusing Biden and his family of corruption.

“Giuliani is a very capable lawyer. I appreciated his meticulousness,” Derkach told Shuster. “When we spoke, it was very useful for me. He records everything. He writes everything down in his notebook. He never relaxes.”

(That’s the same capable, meticulous lawyer who, in July 2020, was duped by Borat—a character played by actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen—in a compromising scene filmed in a New York hotel room.)

After the OAN documentary aired, Giuliani invited Derkach to New York for further talks in February 2020. Derkach appeared on Giuliani’s podcast.

In the months leading up to the November presidential election, Derkach continued his efforts to spread disinformation about Biden to Giuliani as well as Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa

the search for something incriminating

Derkach also released a series of audio tapes of 2016 conversations between Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in which the U.S. vice president linked financial assistance to firing prosecutor Shokin. Derkach claimed he got the tapes from “investigative journalists.” 

There was nothing really incriminating or embarrassing in the heavily edited tapes, TIME reported. But during the first presidential debate in September 2020, Trump repeatedly brought up the tapes, accusing Biden of threatening Ukraine with withholding a billion dollars if Shokin wasn’t removed.

In September 2020, Derkach held a news conference in Kyiv in which he claimed that Burisma’s owner Zlochevsky had laundered money through off-shore banks to pay millions of dollars to a company co-owned by Hunter Biden, Ukraine’s Unian news agency reported.

Hunter Biden did serve on Burisma’s board of directors from 2014 to 2019, and was paid about $600,000 a year, according to the New York Times. His business partner Devon Archer also served on Burisma’s board. Burisma paid them several million dollars for consulting services through their investment firm Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC, Reuters reported. 

In September 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Derkach “for his efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.”

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release: ”Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world.”

Last December, the Department of Justice indicted Derkach for a scheme to violate the sanctions by allegedly engaging in bank fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering. Prosecutors said Derkach allegedly concealed his involvement in the purchase and maintenance of two condominiums in Beverly Hills, California. “While participating in a scripted Russian disinformation campaign seeking to undermine U.S. institutions, Derkach simultaneously conspired to fraudulently benefit from a Western lifestyle for himself and his family in the United States,” said Michael J. Driscoll, head of the FBI’s New York office.

But Derkach stands accused of even worse offenses in Ukraine amounting to treason. In January, Zelenskyy announced that Derkach and three other pro-Russian lawmakers had been stripped of their Ukrainian citizenship for choosing “to serve not the people of Ukraine, but the murderers who came to Ukraine.”

In March, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, a British think tank, issued a detailed report on Russia’s “unconventional operations” during the war in Ukraine in which Derkach figured prominently.

Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) made public information in June 2022 that Derkach had been under the control of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, since 2016, and had been receiving installments of U.S. $3 million to $4 million a month, according to the RUSI report.

“Derkach is alleged to have been tasked with establishing a network of private security firms which would assist in maintaining control in a number of towns by pathfinding and assisting Russian forces upon their arrival,” the report said.

More ominously, the report said Ukraine's intelligence agencies believe that "the main direction of Derkach's pro-Russian activities" in the years before 2022 was to influence Ukraine's nuclear energy industry "in the interests of Russia." Russia had plans to seize Ukraine’s nuclear power plants as part of the invasion, and to that end, “the Russian special services recruited employees of nuclear facilities, including from units responsible for the physical security of the facilities." 

Ukraine has issued a warrant for the arrest of Rudy’s one-time pal. 

Maybe Republicans on the House Oversight Committee should think twice before doing Trump a favor by accepting at face value unsubstantiated bribery allegations regarding Joe Biden and his family, especially if they might be recycling and spreading Russian disinformation. But they won’t.

RELATED STORY: How did Fox News cover Trump's indictment?

The FBI apparently lied about investigating Kavanaugh. What are Democrats going to do about it?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now admitted that it failed to investigate even the most "relevant" of the 4,500 tips it received during an investigation into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, then a Supreme Court nominee, now a Supreme Court justice. That was in response to a two-year-old letter from Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Coons. "We apologize for the extended delay in responding," says Assistant Director Jill C. Tyson.

Which is problem No. 1 for the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Whitehouse and Coons are members: the FBI and Director Christopher Wray. Wray was the original recipient of the Aug. 19, 2019 letter from the senators. A letter which was ignored until June 30, 2021. Wray was the person ultimately responsible for how the FBI handled the background investigation with that "tip line," which ended up apparently just being a dumping ground. Whitehouse and Coons first pressed Wray on this in a July 2019 hearing.

"During the hearing, Wray echoed Republican claims that the FBI conducted the investigation 'by the book,' while asserting that supplemental background investigations are less rigorous than criminal and counterintelligence investigations," the senators say in a press release following the revelation that the FBI did nothing more than send the tips to Trump's henchmen.

So the senators fired off another letter Thursday. "The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information 'highly relevant to … allegations' of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored," the senators write in a sternly-worded letter. "If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all." The letter demands more answers, potentially in pursuit of what will possibly be a future oversight investigation by the Judiciary Committee.

Because if it's not, what the hell is the point? There has to be accountability from Wray to explain why exactly the Trump White House called the shots on this. Honestly, Wray's job needs to be in jeopardy here. There's the very real possibility that the FBI director lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2019 when he told the senators that the investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh were "by the book." The committee needs to put all of the heat they can muster on him, and if necessary, on his boss—Attorney General Merrick Garland—until they get some goddamned answers. That goes for all the questions Whitehouse raised in a follow-up demand to Garland in March of this year.

In his follow up letter to Garland, Whitehouse wrote: "If standard procedures were violated, and the Bureau conducted a fake investigation rather than a sincere, thorough and professional one, that in my view merits congressional oversight to understand how, why, and at whose behest and with whose knowledge or connivance, this was done." This follow-up letter to Garland is apparently the impetus for the FBI to dust off its inbox to find and respond to the original inquiry from 2019, but it certainly doesn't answer all of their questions.

While they're at it, Senate Democrats need to start probing again how Kavanaugh managed to pay off hundreds of thousands in credit card debt between May 2017 and his nomination in July 2018, and on top of that pay $92,000 in country club fees, and pay the $10,500-a-year tuition for his two kids in private school, and make payments on the $815,000 mortgage he had for his $1.2+ million home. Because all of that is still very, very hinky.

That leads us to problem No. 2 for Senate Democrats and for President Joe Biden. There is a seated Supreme Court justice who has been credibly alleged to have committed assault, who has not been investigated, and whose finances are questionable, to say the least. First, this:

There is nothing stopping Democrats in the House and/or Senate from interviewing the witnesses the FBI never spoke to, and collecting the FBI tips the Trump White House apparently buried, as part of its own investigation into whether Kavanaugh committed perjury.

— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) July 22, 2021

That's from a former senior aide to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Justice Department staff, and now executive director of Demand Justice. So yes, Congress can most definitely conduct the investigation where the FBI failed. The results of these investigations could lead, potentially, to impeachment of Kavanaugh, though that's a long shot and potentially a long way away.

Right now, Kavanaugh is just one of three Trump Supreme Court justices who are there in the most dubious of circumstances. Neil Gorsuch is in a seat stolen from President Barack Obama (hey, Merrick Garland!) by Mitch McConnell. Kavanaugh was not property vetted, no matter how you look at it. Amy Coney Barrett was rushed onto the court just days before the 2020 election—while people were casting their ballots—because Trump thought she would give him the majority that would overturn the election in case he lost. This dubious trio joins the inarguably corrupt Clarence Thomas, whose wife Ginni spent the whole of 2020 amplifying Trumpist conspiracy theories about Biden on social media.

They, with Alito, are the Supreme Court majority. The ones who all but ended voting rights and allowed for even more secrecy in dark money to flood our system. What they have planned for next session is even worse. The Supreme Court is packed with dangerous ideologues, and a few corrupt ones, too.

Now President Biden and Democrats have a chance to, well, unpack it. To dilute the Trump/RNC/Koch/Federalist Society’s malign influence and balance it out with four or six or however many additional justices. It is imperative. It is existential.