House Republicans Tell Mayorkas He’s Lying, Should Resign

By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee told Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas he lied under oath. They said he didn’t prepare for the hearing by responding to requests for information by the committee and wouldn’t answer questions. They also told him he should resign or be impeached.

RELATED: Cruz to Mayorkas: ‘If You Had Integrity, You Would Resign’

Mayorkas appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, which held a hearing on the “Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Prior to the hearing, its chairman, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked Mayorkas to provide specific data about encounters with illegal foreign nationals, including details about asylum claims being processed. Mayorkas did not appear to provide the information.

After U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, repeatedly asked Mayorkas how many people have been released into the U.S. and deported under Mayorkas’ watch and he wouldn’t answer, Jordan asked the same questions.

“How many illegal aliens has the Biden administration released into the United States?” he asked. “How many illegal aliens has the Biden administration removed from the United States?”

Mayorkas said he would provide the committee with whatever data they requested, after Jordan requested the data prior to the hearing.

“We asked you to be prepared to answer the question,” Jordan said. “The fact that you won’t is bad, the fact that you don’t know is bad.”

Jordan reiterated that Americans want to know the answer. Mayorkas repeated the same reply, saying he will provide the data; “we have been cooperating with the committee.”

RELATED: Why Hasn’t the GOP Yet Walked the Walk on Its Mayorkas Impeachment Talk?

Jordan then showed the documents the committee received from DHS in response to questions it asked about its disinformation board created last year under Mayorkas.

The pages are blank.

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming, thanked Mayorkas for “your performance. I have watched with fascination as you have danced and dodged and lied, yes lied. We know you’ve lied. You know you’ve lied; more importantly the American public knows that you lied throughout your testimony today.”

Mayorkas repeatedly claimed the border is secure, a claim U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York, also affirmed on Wednesday.

Referring to DHS’ disinformation board, Hageman said, “And yet you believe that you and your fellow architects of the censorship industrial complex think that you should be able to determine what is and isn’t true and what is and isn’t untrue.

“You are the walking, talking epitome of the very tyrant that our forefathers recognized would gravitate towards government service. It is because of people like you that they drafted the First Amendment. …You do not have the right to limit our freedom of speech … Thank God we have the First Amendment so that we can stop you from doing what you’ve been doing.”

Former Democrat turned Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew from New Jersey listed what he said were Mayorkas’ failures and said he must resign, and then asked if he would resign.

Mayorkas replied, “No, I will not. I am incredibly proud of the work that is performed at the Department of Homeland Security.”

In response, Van Drew said, “Secretary Mayorkas if you will not resign that leaves us with no other option. You should be impeached.”

RELATED: Biden Admin Ripped Apart for Whining About Illegal Aliens Being Bussed to Blue Cities

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, told Mayorkas, “I’ve been in Congress seven years. I think you’re the most dishonest witness that has ever appeared before the Judiciary Committee. I think I speak for a lot of my colleagues. This is such a frustrating exercise … because our constituents want answers. They’re tired of open borders, they’re tired of people dying from fentanyl overdoses, and it’s your fault.”

The hearing was held as 525 known or suspected terrorists have been apprehended attempting to illegally enter the U.S. so far this fiscal year, including one that was released into the U.S. by DHS last year.

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

The post House Republicans Tell Mayorkas He’s Lying, Should Resign appeared first on The Political Insider.

Both parties hear what they want to hear during rare Durham public hearing

Special counsel John Durham was both lionized and scrutinized by lawmakers as he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss his probe into the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign. 

Durham provided little new information in his May report but confirmed a series of FBI missteps previously documented by the news media, including that the FBI failed to provide a full picture of the evidence when seeking a wiretap of Trump campaign aide Carter Page.  

In a rare public appearance Wednesday, Durham called his findings “sobering.” 

“The problems identified in the report are not susceptible to overnight fixes. … They cannot be addressed solely by enhancing training or additional policy requirements. Rather, what is required is accountability, both in terms of the standards to which our law enforcement personnel hold themselves and in the consequences they face for violation of laws and policies of relevance,” he said. 

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Over more than five hours of questioning, Republicans and Democrats zeroed in on the parts of the report most favorable to their positions.  

To Republicans, Durham’s scathing 305-page report supports their arguments about a Department of Justice and FBI that has been weaponized against former President Trump.  

Democrats argued the report backed the FBI’s initial decision to open a probe into the Trump campaign, something they view as significant, since Trump called for Durham's appointment with high expectations that he’d find damaging material on the FBI.  

Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a chief Trump defender who has cast the FBI as “rotted to the core,” said the report served as an example that the bureau requires serious reform, as “any one of us could be next.”  

“There is [a double standard at the Department of Justice]. That has got to change, and I don't think more training, more rules is going to do it. I think we have to fundamentally change the FISA process, and we have to use the appropriations process to limit how American tax dollars are spent at the Department of Justice,” he added, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has the power to authorize a wiretap. 

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It was a tip from an Australian diplomat that ignited the FBI’s interest. The diplomat had spoken with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who told him that Russia had damaging emails from then-competitor Hillary Clinton. It was that tip, not the later debunked Steele Dossier, that led the FBI to initiate the investigation. 

“We have many areas of disagreement across the aisle, but I am relieved that we have no disagreement about one of the fundamental conclusions of your report: that it was incumbent upon the FBI to open some form of investigation when presented with evidence that a presidential candidate and his associates are either coordinating campaign efforts with a hostile nation or being manipulated by such a hostile nation,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.). 

Several Democrats attacked Durham’s work, criticizing the report for not offering any recommendations for the FBI and calling attention to its failure to lead to criminal convictions. 

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) noted that five Trump campaign associates were convicted of various crimes following the Mueller investigation.  

“In contrast to multiple Trump associates who were convicted, you brought two cases to a jury trial based on this investigation, and you lost both. So I don't actually know what we're doing here, because the author of the Durham report concedes that the FBI had enough information to investigate,” he said. 

“And thank goodness the FBI did, because vulnerable Trump associates who committed crimes were held accountable. And the best way to summarize what happened is: Thank you to the brave men and women of the FBI for doing their jobs.” 

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

Republicans pivoted between complaints over the Justice Department and the treatment of Trump to possible FISA reforms that would limit law enforcement authority for spying both in the U.S. and abroad.  

“You detail how FBI personnel working on FISA applications violated protocols. They were cavalier at best, as you said, in your own words, towards accuracy and completeness. Senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards information that they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons or entities and … a significant reliance on investigative and leads provided or funded by Trump's political opponents were relied upon here,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) said. 

Johnson went on to lament the involvement of Peter Strzok, previously deputy assistant director the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, who made negative comments about Trump in texts. 

“He said horrible things about President Trump, and all of his supporters by the way, how could we say he did not have political bias?” 

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.)

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) leaves a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Fla.) criticized the FISA application that allowed the FBI to wiretap Page. 

“A FISA application was pursued without disclosing some relevant information to prosecutors or the court, without following standard procedural rules, utilizing investigative techniques that were the most intrusive without first exhausting other techniques, and instead pursuing the most invasive method possible from the outset against Mr. Page,” she said. 

Durham was also at times berated for his work, including by those who said he did not do enough to probe FBI misdeeds after Trump said Durham’s report would reveal the “crime of the century.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was also gifted time by other members to question the course of the investigation.

Schiff critiqued Durham’s decision to issue a statement about an inspector general’s report on the same topic and repeatedly asked why one of the top prosecutors on the investigation resigned, a question Durham refused to answer.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Durham’s investigative trip to Italy was just “looking for authentic pasta” as he griped that the special counsel’s work was insufficient.

“It seems like more than disappointment. It seems like you weren't really trying to expose the true core of the corruption,” Gaetz said. 

“It's not what's in your report that is telling, it's the omission, it's the lack of work you did. ... You let the country down.”

Tensions flare in ‘weaponization’ panel hearing with sidelined FBI agents 

Republicans and Democrats battled during a tense hearing Thursday over three FBI agents who Republicans say were retaliated against for blowing the whistle on bias at the agency— and who Democrats argue the GOP is using to legitimize the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

GOP lawmakers accused the FBI of retaliating against “truth tellers” by revoking their security clearances because they espoused conservative views and took their concerns to Republicans on the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

“Politics is driving the federal agencies,” said Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of both the Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee, alleging that the government targets citizens who are not politically correct.

“What’s just as frightening is if you’re one of the good employees who come forward to talk about the targeting, you become the target,” he added.

Democrats countered by arguing that the GOP, in the words of Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), was using the hearing as “a vehicle to legitimize the events of Jan. 6 and the people who perpetrated it.”

They questioned the FBI agents’ credibility and whether they should be considered whistleblowers, sparred with Republicans over access to documents and materials, and accused the panel of being a tool for former President Trump.

“This select committee is a clearing house for testing conspiracy theories for Donald Trump to use in his 2024 presidential campaign,” said Del. Stacey Plaskett (V.I.), the panel’s ranking Democrat. 

“You all have employment grievances. That doesn’t make you whistleblowers,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said.

The hearing, which took place just days after special counsel John Durham released a report that offered stark criticism for the FBI’s opening of an investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia, underscored GOP suspicions of the federal intelligence and law enforcement organizations.

Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) at one point referenced the piercing evil eye from J. R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" series to describe the FBI.

“The Eye of Sauron has turned inward, and it is operating with a white-hot intensity that seeks to destroy everything in its path,” she said.  

The hearing accompanied the Thursday release of an interim staff report from the panel’s Republicans that detailed what it says are abuses by the FBI, as described by what Republicans say are dozens of whistleblowers.

Allegations both in the report and in the hearing range from the agents being directed to scribble down license plate numbers in a parking lot outside a school board meeting to being pressured to open cases on people who traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, but did not enter the Capitol.

Democrats had already preemptively countered the GOP’s “weaponization” investigation, writing in a 300-page report in March that some of the GOP witnesses were connected to committee Republicans through people with deep ties to former President Trump. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) reiterated and established at the hearing that two of the witnesses had received donations from Kash Patel, a former top Department of Defense official who is a surrogate for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign.

Jordan brushed off the financial connection between witnesses and Trump allies in a press conference Thursday.

“They’ve got a family. How are they supposed to pay their family?” he asked.

The FBI in a statement asserted that it does not retaliate against protected whistleblowers.

“The FBI’s mission is to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people. The FBI has not and will not retaliate against individuals who make protected whistleblower disclosures,” the agency said in a statement to The Hill in response to the subcommittee hearing.

Thursday’s hearing also came just one day after the FBI sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee that went into more detail about the reasons why the agency revoked the security clearances from three agents, including two of those who testified at the subcommittee hearing Thursday.

According to a copy of the FBI letter obtained by The Hill, agent Brett Gloss, who did not testify at the hearing and has not been charged with a crime, was in a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, amounting to criminal trespass and “questionable judgment” that indicated he may not properly safeguard classified or sensitive information.

Agent Marcus Allen, one of the witnesses at Thursday’s hearing, had his security clearance revoked after the agency found he “espoused alternative theories to coworkers” about Jan. 6 “in apparent attempts to hinder investigative activity,” including sharing a theory that federal law enforcement had infiltrated the crowd.

“It appears I was retaliated against because I forwarded information to my superiors that questioned the official narrative of January 6th,” Allen said in the Thursday hearing. He also said the FBI’s assertion that his supervisor “admonished” him was inaccurate. 

The FBI also found that one case related to Jan. 6 was closed after Allen said he did not find any relevant information about a subject — but that case was later reopened after another FBI employee found relevant information that was publicly available. That person assaulted a Capitol Police officer on Jan. 6, the agency said.

At one point in the hearing, Democrats stumbled in an attempt to push back on the witnesses’ credibility when Sánchez asked Allen to address a Twitter account with the name “Marcus Allen” that had retweeted a tweet asserting that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) staged the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Allen responded that it was not his Twitter account — and that he did not agree with the message, condemning the violence at the Capitol on that day.

The FBI said agent Stephen Friend had his security clearance revoked after he acknowledged that he “publicly released sensitive FBI information on his personal social media accounts without authorization,” participated in unapproved media interviews, and secretly recorded a meeting with FBI management.

Friend testified to the committee that after raising concerns to his superiors with how the FBI was handling investigations into Jan. 6 subjects, the FBI suspended him without pay. 

Friend testified that he was assigned to attend a school board meeting and took down the information from attendees’ license plates in the parking lot. He also said that after he was suspended from the FBI, his investigations of child sexual exploitation material were handed off to local law enforcement rather than to another federal agent.

A third witness, Garrett O’Boyle, who had his security clearance suspended but not yet fully revoked, was suspended without pay after he raised concerns with his chain of command and then made disclosures to Congress. He had just made a move across the country for the job, and he choked up as he described the FBI holding his family’s belongings — including his children’s clothing — for six weeks before they could access them.

Jordan said that O’Boyle was the first whistleblower to tell the committee about the process the FBI was using to assess threats against school board members, which he said have resulted in zero prosecutions.

“When citizens in this country get to the point where they can call the most powerful law-enforcement agency in the world on their neighbor just because they disagree with them, that is chilling to the First Amendment rights of the people who are getting the FBI called on them,” O’Boyle said in the hearing.

Mike Lillis contributed. Updated at 6:16 p.m.

Democrats call on Judiciary GOP to probe DeSantis’s election police

A trio of Democrat lawmakers are calling on the House Judiciary Committee's GOP leadership to investigate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's (R) handling of the state law enforcement agency, alleging he is using it to advance his political agenda and intimidate voters.

"Given the allegations of abuse of authority, improper politicization, and voter intimidation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), I am calling on the Judiciary Committee to open an investigation and [hold a] public hearing into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's alleged mishandling of the agency," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

The letter, signed by Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), noted that because the FDLE receives $57 million in federal funding, Congress has the jurisdiction to investigate whether it is using the funds for "improper and unconstitutional ends." Their letter also noted that DeSantis's launch of a voting fraud unit employed help from the FDLE, which argued against the move because due to the lack of voting fraud cases.

The lawmakers alleged that DeSantis's push for the election police force was used to intimidate voters of color, blasting the police force as a "draconian response."

DeSantis signed a bill last year that created an election police force dedicated to investigating voter fraud and other election-related crimes.

"The Governor was reportedly motivated to target these individuals — mostly Black, an overwhelmingly Democratic constituency — to placate former President Trump and his false claims that widespread voter fraud led to his defeat in 2020, despite having won the State of Florida by three percentage points," the letter reads.

The lawmakers also alleged that DeSantis abused his power by sending FDLE to the southwest border, saying the move diverted resources from the state to "score political points in the runup to his campaign for president." And the lawmakers said the governor used the agency to target his political opponent, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, by producing crime statistics about his jurisdiction in an effort to make him "look bad."

"We cannot be good stewards of taxpayer dollars by funding a law enforcement arm that is being weaponized for a single governor's personal political purposes," the letter stated. "Whether it is seeking to disenfranchise voters, violate civil liberties, or dig up political dirt, the FDLE under Governor DeSantis's direction requires oversight by this Committee."

The Hill has reached out to DeSantis's office for comment.

Durham’s FBI-Trump report fuels House GOP ‘weaponization’ attacks

House Republicans say the long-awaited report from special counsel John Durham bolsters their arguments that federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been “weaponized” against political enemies — a theme that has been a major defining belief of their new majority. 

“The long-awaited Durham Report confirmed what the American people already know; that individuals at the highest levels of government attempted to overthrow democracy when they illegally weaponized the federal government against Donald J. Trump,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a statement.

The report found that federal authorities did not have sufficient information to open their “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Durham did not recommend any charges to the FBI in his report but said that the agency was “seriously deficient” in how it handled some aspects of the investigation, including relying on “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence.” 

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) quoted from the report in a press conference Tuesday, raising alarm about its assertion that “the FBI failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law” and that it identified an FBI agent who knowingly made misrepresentations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

“Where’s the accountability for this? Who’s going to be held accountable? These are the questions we’re going to continue to ask,” Scalise said.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) invited Durham to speak to his panel’s select subcommittee on government weaponization — created at the request of the right flank ahead of the tumultuous election of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — at the end of the month.

Many House GOP members, including those serving on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, said that they had not yet read the more than 300-page report released Monday, when many were focused on the debt ceiling negotiations.

Yet several Republicans said that the report essentially confirmed their own biases.

“We all already believed or knew what was in there,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). “It's like, ‘Yeah, see? We told you so.’”

McCarthy told The Hill that Republicans already knew about the things that were “so appalling.”

“They took the entire country through this, impeachment, everything else, when we knew the FBI never should have done this from the very beginning,” McCarthy said.

Democrats, for their part, criticized the report for not offering enough new information.

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that the report amounted to “a political rehashing of what the Justice Department Inspector General already made public in 2019.” 

“Mr. Durham has, one last time, over promised and under delivered,” Nadler said before referencing special counsel Robert Mueller, who released a report in 2019 on his investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

“Nothing in this report changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation, which resulted in multiple convictions, found more than one hundred contacts between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government, and substantial reason to believe that Donald Trump had committed obstruction of justice,” Nadler said.

The report from Durham is likely to affect how House Republicans legislate, and may also play a role in the GOP presidential primary.

“The report confirms that FBI personnel repeatedly disregarded critical protections established to protect the American people from unlawful surveillance,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “Such actions should never have occurred, and it is essential that Congress codifies clear guardrails that prevent future FBI abuses and restores the public’s trust in our law enforcement institutions.”

The FBI is getting ahead of calls for change, releasing a five-page letter responding to Durham that details recent reforms.

“The conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time,” the FBI said in a statement. “Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented. This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect.”

One area likely to be affected by the politics of the Durham report is Congress’s reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows for warrantless surveillance of foreigners outside the United States, even as they communicate with U.S. citizens within the U.S. — thus allowing intelligence agencies to pick up citizen communications without a warrant.

“I can assure you, 702 — that is not going to get rubber-stamped,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “We’ve got to have a serious reboot or elimination of what we're seeing through FISA 702.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also said that the Durham report will probably affect FISA reauthorization.

In a Twitter thread, Crenshaw said there “must be consequences” based on the findings of the report.

“This report demonstrates how unelected, subversive actors within the highest levels of our government sought to destroy a duly-elected president they hated. They weaponized a lie – knowing the media would breathlessly regurgitate that lie – in order to take Donald Trump out of the White House,” Crenshaw said.

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.

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.

WHIP LIST: McCarthy searches for 218 GOP Speakership votes

A narrower-than-anticipated House Republican majority and a growing number of House Republicans expressing opposition to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are threatening to derail his bid to be Speaker of the House.

McCarthy won his party’s nomination for Speaker this month but needs to secure a majority of all those casting a vote for a specific candidate in a Jan. 3 House floor vote in order to officially be elected Speaker.

Support from 218 House Republicans, marking a majority of the House, would shore up his position. 

A Speaker can be elected with fewer than 218 votes if there are absences, vacancies or some members vote “present,” but McCarthy does not have much wiggle room. Democrats will have around 213 seats, and all are expected to vote for a Democratic Speaker nominee. Republicans will have around 222 seats. 

McCarthy maintains confidence that he will win the Speakership, but around five House Republicans have already signaled they will not support McCarthy’s Speakership bid on the floor, likely already putting him under 218 and throwing his position into dangerous territory. Several others are withholding support, too, without necessarily saying they will vote against McCarthy on Jan. 3.

Opposition to McCarthy

Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.)

Biggs, a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, mounted a last-minute challenge to McCarthy for the House GOP’s Speakership nomination, when he got 31 votes to McCarthy’s 188, and five others voted for other candidates. After the nomination, Biggs said he will not vote for McCarthy to be Speaker.

“I do not believe he will ever get to 218 votes, and I refuse to assist him in his effort to get those votes,” Biggs tweeted.

He cited McCarthy’s not promising to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as one reason for withholding support. On Tuesday, McCarthy called on Mayorkas to resign, saying House Republicans will investigate and consider opening an impeachment inquiry if he does not.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) 

“Kevin McCarthy will revert to his establishment mean the moment he gets power, and that’s why there are enough of us now, a critical mass, standing as a bulwark against his ascension to the Speakership,” Gaetz said on former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon’s “War Room” show on Tuesday.

Gaetz additionally told reporters on Nov. 15 that he would vote for someone other than McCarthy on the House floor on Jan. 3.

Rep. Bob Good (Va.)

“I will not be supporting him on Jan. 3,” Good said on "John Fredericks Radio Show" on Tuesday. He added that he thinks there are “more than enough” members who are “resolved not to support him” and deny McCarthy the Speakership.

The freshman Virginia congressman, who ousted former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) in a 2020 primary, previously said on the same radio show that he had confronted McCarthy about his tactics during a House GOP conference meeting before the Speaker nomination vote. Good took issue with a McCarthy-aligned PAC spending millions to support certain Republicans in primaries over others, and noted that McCarthy had endorsed Riggleman in his 2020 primary.

“He admitted there at the mic, though, that he spent money in these races based on who would support him for Speaker,” Good said.

Good has also said that he believes there are a “dozen or so” House Republicans who will oppose McCarthy on the House floor.

Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.)

Norman’s opposition to McCarthy centers around the budget. Norman said he asked McCarthy to adopt a model seven-year budget crafted by the Republican Study Committee, which included $16.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years. 

“Just a solid 'no' led me to believe he's really not serious about it,” Norman said on Bannon’s “War Room” on Tuesday.

The slim House GOP majority, he added, provides an opportunity for hard-line conservative members to pressure McCarthy and push for their priorities.

Norman first revealed his opposition to McCarthy to Just the News, and clarified to Politico that he will vote for someone other than McCarthy to be Speaker – and will not vote “present.”

Rep. Matt Rosendale (Mont.) 

Rosendale, a freshman, has signaled opposition to McCarthy for Speaker.

“He wants to maintain the status quo, which consolidates power into his hands and a small group of individuals he personally selects. We need a leader who can stand up to a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Biden, and unfortunately, that isn’t Kevin McCarthy,” Rosendale said in a tweet after McCarthy was nominated to be Speaker. 

Additional McCarthy skeptics and unknowns

Several other conservative members have indicated that McCarthy has not yet earned their support, or declined to answer questions about McCarthy’s Speakership altogether. 

Rep. Scott Perry (Pa.)

Perry, the current chair of the House Freedom Caucus, has repeatedly said that McCarthy does not have support from 218 members.

“It's becoming increasingly perilous as we move forward,” Perry said of McCarthy’s position in an interview last week.

Perry has been pushing McCarthy and House GOP leadership to implement rules changes that, on the whole, would give more power to rank-and-file members and lessen that of leaders. But he is not committing to vote against McCarthy at this time. 

“I’m not making my position known,” Perry said in an interview last week. “I do have an open mind, but I also see what’s happening.”

Rep. Chip Roy (Texas)

Roy has similarly said that McCarthy does not have majority support for Speaker, but has not said how he intends to vote on the House floor on Jan. 3.

“Nobody has 218, and someone's going to have to earn 218,” Roy said last week.

In addition to also pushing for a more open process, Roy has expressed that he does not think House GOP leadership’s commitments to investigate the Biden administration are aggressive enough. He is also a supporter of withholding funding unless the Biden administration ends COVID-19 vaccine mandates for the military.

Rep. Dan Bishop (N.C.)

Bishop said that his vote for Speaker hinges on more than rules changes.

“What it is about more now is whether somebody can seize the initiative to come up with a creative approach to sort of recalibrate how this place works in hopes of moving off the status quo and making it effective for the American people,” Bishop said in a brief interview last week.

“At this moment, I'm open to anyone seizing the initiative in the way that I described,” Bishop said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.)

“Well, I will tell you that you’ll know that on January the third,” Clyde said on "John Fredericks Radio Show" on Monday when asked whether he would vote for McCarthy. “We’re still having negotiations.”

Rep. Barry Moore (Ala.)

Moore said in a brief interview last week that he is waiting to see how negotiations on rules changes go, but he was not necessarily a hard “no” on McCarthy.

“We won't really know until Jan. 3 how things shake out,” he said.

Hard-line members supporting McCarthy

Not all members of the House Freedom Caucus or the more confrontational wing are united in their antagonism of McCarthy. In fact, some are strong supporters.

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio)

Some conservatives have suggested Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding Freedom Caucus member who challenged McCarthy for GOP leader in 2018, as an alternative Speaker candidate. But Jordan, who is likely to chair the House Judiciary Committee, has thrown his support behind McCarthy.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.)

The firebrand Georgia congresswoman was once a doubter of McCarthy’s ability to become Speaker, but has now become one of his most vocal supporters for the post. Greene, who has said McCarthy will have to “give me a lot of power” to make the GOP base happy, said she is working to convince her fellow conservative members to vote for McCarthy.

Greene has warned that moderate Republicans could join Democrats and elect a compromise moderate Speaker, but McCarthy skeptics have dismissed that prospect as a red herring.

Rep. Randy Weber (Texas)

Weber, a House Freedom Caucus member, said he is pro-McCarthy for Speaker.

“He's poured his heart and guts and soul out into building this conference,” Weber told The Hill last week. “I've been here 10 years. ... I've never seen the conference in better shape than it is now.”

Five investigations House Republicans are plotting if they win majority

From Hunter Biden to alleged politicization in the Department of Justice and beyond, House Republicans have been preparing for months to unleash a flood of investigatory actions and findings if they win a majority in the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Investigations would be a major tool for the House GOP, as many top policy priorities would be unlikely to make it past a filibuster in the Senate or be signed by President Biden. 

With the majority also comes the ability to dictate the focus of hearings and compel testimony and documents, including some that they may have already requested but not received, through subpoenas. That could put pressure on the Biden administration. 

The House GOP’s "Commitment to America" midterm policy and messaging plan boasts that House Republicans have already sent more than 500 requests for information and documents.

Hunter Biden and Biden family business activities

President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden leave Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Johns Island, S.C., after attending a Mass, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Rep. James Comer (Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee in line to be chair of the panel, has promised hearings and probes into the Biden family’s overseas business activities.

Republicans on the committee have a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive first revealed shortly before the 2020 election, but say that salacious video and photos in the files are not the focus.

“The reason we’re investigating Hunter Biden is because we believe he's compromised Joe Biden,” Comer told reporters in September.

A top priority for Republicans on the Oversight panel is gaining access to the Treasury Department’s suspicious activity reports from U.S. banks relating to foreign business deals from Hunter Biden and other Biden associates. Republicans have said that the Treasury Department has refused to provide the reports, and alleged that Biden family members have prompted at least 150 suspicious activity reports.

“I think that’ll go a long way towards helping us be able to uncover some questions that the American people have about the ethics, and whether or not the Biden administration is truly compromised by Hunter’s shady business dealings,” Comer said.

Alleged politicization in the Department of Justice


An aerial view of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Republican trust in federal law enforcement agencies plummeted alongside the rise of former President Trump and special counsel Robert Meuller’s investigation into him, and the sense among the GOP that the DOJ and FBI are biased against conservatives has only grown since that time.

One top topic for a GOP House will be the DOJ’s decision to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August and seize classified materials.

Republicans have requested documents from the National Archives and the FBI related to the decision to refer the matter of missing documents to the FBI and to execute the search warrant. After the raid, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned Attorney General Merrick Garland to “preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”

GOP interest in the DOJ extends beyond Trump, though. 

“The No. 1 thing is this weaponization of the DOJ against the American people,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is likely to chair the committee in a GOP majority, said at the House GOP’s platform rollout event in September.

Jordan has said that his office has received information from more than a dozen whistleblowers who came forward with allegations of FBI bias against conservatives, including the agency retaliating against employees with conservative views.

In a major win for the House GOP, former FBI official Jill Sanborn will sit for a transcribed interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 2. Jordan and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) sought testimony from Sanborn in relation to whistleblower claims that the FBI pressured agents to improperly reclassify cases as “domestic violent extremism.”

COVID-19 origins and policies

A health care worker in Wuhan, China during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. (Getty)

The Democratic-controlled House created a select Oversight subcommittee on the coronavirus in 2020, and Republicans have complained that the committee did not hold hearings on the origin of the virus.

report from Republicans on the select subcommittee released Wednesday pledged to keep investigating U.S. dollars that flowed to research on coronaviruses at a Wuhan, China, lab, officials who sought to squash the lab leak hypothesis, and state policies that pushed COVID-positive patients into nursing homes.

Republicans from the subcommittee hosted an expert forum, during which panelists said they thought evidence pointed to the virus originating in the Wuhan lab. 

Studies released this year point to natural origins of the virus. The U.S. intelligence community has said the virus was not created as a bioweapon.

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden who has spent decades as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, plans to step down from his government positions in December. But Republicans say that will not stop them from calling Fauci to appear before Congress to talk about the origins of the virus.

Afghanistan withdrawal

In this Aug. 21, 2021, file photo provided by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force provide assistance at an evacuation checkpoint during at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

GOP leaders have pledged to hold more hearings on the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 that led to the deaths of 13 service members in a bombing and the Taliban taking control of the country, saying that unanswered questions remain.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans released an “interim report” on the withdrawal in August, finding that the State Department “took very few substantive steps” to prepare for the consequences in the months ahead of the August withdrawal.

The report said that the State Department failed to provide numerous materials relating to the withdrawal and forecasted the intention to use subpoena power to retrieve those documents as well as have officials sit for transcribed interviews. 

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) on Tuesday also sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting information on how the Department of Defense has “secured, archived, and standardized operational data and intelligence” from Afghanistan. In an interview with The Hill, Waltz said that data is necessary in case the U.S. has to go back into Afghanistan to counter terror threats.

Handling of U.S.-Mexico border

Multiple Republican members of Congress have already introduced articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as as result of the Biden administration's border policies. (Getty)

The surge of migrants at the southern border and the Biden administration’s policies that allow the migrants into the country are top campaign issues for Republicans in the midterms and would be a sharp focus in a GOP House.

“We will give [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas a reserved parking spot, he will be testifying so much about this,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said at Republicans’ "Commitment to America" rollout event in September.

Deaths of migrants at the border, the flow of illegal drugs like fentanyl into the U.S., and the Department of Homeland Security's ending of the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers are other likely topics of inquiry. A letter from Republicans in April accused Mayorkas of having “disregard for the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.”

Multiple Republicans members have introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas in the current Congress. McCarthy has declined to commit to impeachment of any Biden Cabinet member, saying he will not support a political impeachment, but opened the door to impeaching Mayorkas in an April stop near the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is his moment in time to do his job. But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody,” McCarthy said at the time.

Updated 12:47 p.m.

Trey Gowdy Slams Media For Ignoring Pelosi’s ‘Open Duplicity When It Comes To Congressional Investigations’

During his Fox News show on Sunday night, former Republican congressman Trey Gowdy blasted “partisan” media outlets for not holding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accountable after she rejected multiple Republican lawmakers for her House commission investigating the January 6 Capitol riots.

Gowdy Sounds Off 

“The DC media tells us they ‘speak truth to power.’ They tell us ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness.’ They tell us they publish ‘All the News that is Fit to Print,’ and a host of other meaningless self-congratulatory platitudes, but they can’t question Pelosi on her open duplicity when it comes to congressional investigations,” Gowdy began.

Gowdy went on to remind his viewers of Pelosi’s questionable history regarding previous high-profile committee placements.

“She put Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on the Benghazi committee, even though his mind was fully made up, and he did everything he could to protect the Democrat nominee for president,” he argued. “That was his job. Not to interview survivors, not to access information, not to ascertain why the military did not respond in a timely manner, but protect Hillary Clinton. Pelosi picked him despite his bias.”

Related: Trey Gowdy Annihilates Squad-Member Cori Bush For Spending $70K On Private Security While Pushing Defund The Police

Gowdy Doubles Down 

Not stopping there, Gowdy said that Pelosi also tapped Schiff to investigate former President Donald Trump over Russia collusion allegations, “even though Schiff misstated evidence, prejudged the outcome and claimed to have evidence he never produced.”

“She picked Schiff to lead the prosecution in a failed impeachment trial, even though Schiff misstated facts, misrepresented a meeting with the whistleblower, and manufactured evidence during a committee hearing…Pelosi picked him anyway,” he continued.

Months after that, Pelosi let Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) keep his seat on the House Intelligence Committee even though reports came out that he’d had a close relationship with a Chinese spy.

Despite this, Pelosi rejected Trump allies Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN) from her commission investigating the Capitol riot.

“There is not a single cop, prosecutor or judge who would be allowed to remain on those cases if he or she did what Schiff, Swalwell… or the others did. Not one,” Gowdy said. “She picked her own biased members but she rejected Jim Jordan. Jordan is the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, he was on the Intelligence Committee, which has more access to more sensitive information than any committee in Congress.”

Related: Gowdy Torches Anti-American Protesters – Remember ‘Those Who Would Give Everything They Have’ To Be Here

Gowdy Let’s Loose 

That’s when Gowdy really went off on Pelosi.

“Jordan has participated in previous investigations, he worked hard, and he didn’t leak, which is more than I could say for many of his colleagues,” Gowdy said. “But whether you like Jim Jordan or not is irrelevant, whether you think the previous investigations or even the current investigations are appropriate is beside the point, Congress has the power and often responsibility to investigate, it should be fair.”

“It is fair to ask, why Democrat members of congress are free to prejudge evidence…run against the person they are investigating….and yet they are qualified for service on an investigative committee, but Jim Jordan is not?” he questioned. 

“That is the question,” he added. “Why Schiff and not Jordan? Why Swalwell and not Jordan? Why is it your members can have their minds already made up, but somehow that is disqualifying for the other side?”

“It’s the sort of question a serious objective media would ask.… but the modern media in this country is just as partisan as politicians themselves,” he concluded. “‘Truth to Power,’ they claim. ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ they claim. Well,” he said, “it doesn’t do well in the slew of hypocrisy either, that is where we are right now, and in no small part because the referee is just as partisan as the players.

This piece was written by James Samson on August 2, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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