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Jim Jordan (R-OH) is taking his place in the spotlight. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

With their rabid partisanship and disregard for truth or reality, Republicans ruin even the most worthwhile endeavors, such as keeping a close eye on the FBI.

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–OPINION–

One of the controversial items included in the rules package that the House passed Monday, and that Trump loyalists had pushed for, is the establishment of a new select committee to “investigate the investigators.”

Essentially, Republican lawmakers want to probe the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to see whether they have been “weaponized.”

At first glance, that sounds like a pretty good idea. In recent years, both parties have nominated presidential candidates who were either targets of FBI investigations themselves or whose no-good son is being investigated. And ahead of the last two elections, the bureau had to make tough calls on whether to release information regarding those probes to the public.

In addition, the FBI is not exactly a beacon of decency. In fact, it may have been involved in more major scandals than any other federal agency. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, the bureau has probably done something to piss you off — whether that’s former director James Comey torpedoing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016 or the FBI raiding Donald Trump’s Florida residence to confiscate the nearly 200 classified documents he had squirreled away there.

In Greek mythology, King Midas was revered for his ability to turn anything he touched into gold. Modern day Republicans are the opposite. Everything they touch turns to shit.

So, why would a new committee with the goal of investigating the FBI be controversial?

Because it’s Republicans running the show.

Let’s take a look at why that is a problem.

In Greek mythology, King Midas was revered for his ability to turn anything he touched into gold. Modern day Republicans are the opposite: Everything they touch turns to shit.

A great example is the GOP’s election denialism of 2020. In theory, some of the issues Trump and his brigade of weirdos raised merit attention. Should elections be well run? Of course. Should voting machines be safe? Obviously. Is there enough transparency surrounding them and their potential vulnerabilities? There is not. Should all eligible votes (and only those) be counted? Yes, that’s the whole point.

Is the US struggling with some of these things and/or do they deserve constant scrutiny? Absolutely.

However, by making countless ridiculous accusations without backing any of them up with evidence, Trump and his anti-democracy pals have poisoned the well. Their bad-faith shenanigans made people defend the US elections process more than it deserves to be defended.

In addition, it will be much more difficult for legitimate election integrity experts to raise these issues in the future because they will be lumped in with Trump and his kooks.

The new House Republican select committee and its upcoming attacks on the DOJ and the FBI will be no different. Instead of looking at legitimate problems the bureau has had, the goal of the new committee is to obfuscate, muddy the waters, and engage in misdirection.

To save you time, we are going to tell you what will happen — not because we have the gift of clairvoyance but because Republicans are just so predictable. SPOILER ALERT: If you’d rather follow along on Fox “News,” stop reading now.

But before we get to our predictions, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind: First, the charter of the committee specifically says that it can probe “ongoing investigations.” We’ll get back to why that matters in a minute.

The second thing that makes this committee special is that it will likely include lawmakers who are under investigation themselves and/or have helped obstruct such investigations. Essentially, the panel that is supposed to look into a potential “weaponization of the federal government” is itself a weaponization of the House’s oversight power. (There are lots of things wrong with modern-day Republicans, but they are masters of unintentional irony.)

With that in mind, here is how things will play out:

It all starts with the selection of the committee’s targets. Seeing how this is a purely political exercise, Republicans probably won’t make much of an effort to pretend that this is about identifying systemic problems at the FBI. Instead, the committee is immediately going to pursue its core mission: persuading the public (especially their base) that legitimate investigations into Trump, the January 6 insurrection, and the Republicans who aided the coup are somehow tainted.

That might seem like a challenge because real and serious crimes have undoubtedly been committed. The insurrection played out on live TV, the Capitol was ransacked, and cops were assaulted. And it is not in dispute that Trump hoarded classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

However, that assumes that the audience for whom this theater is produced cares about things like facts or reality. These people aren’t looking for the truth; they are looking for even the flimsiest excuse to believe what they want to believe. And delivering that excuse is the true purpose of the committee.

It won’t be difficult. One of the reasons is that the Department of Justice has a longstanding policy of “declin[ing] to provide congressional committees with access to open law enforcement files.” This means that, within days or weeks, GOP lawmakers will request information that they know beforehand they won’t get.

And just as quickly, they will appear on Fox to tell eager hosts that they are being “stonewalled” by an FBI intent on harming conservatives. These claims will go unchallenged and be repeated on every one of the network’s shows all day long — and regular viewers will forget all about the crimes that were committed and only care about how DOJ is “obstructing” the valiant efforts of these patriotic Republicans to get to the bottom of how Trump once again found himself on the receiving end of a “witch hunt.”  

Obviously, it won’t stop there. Instead of “investigating the investigators,” the next step will be to “besmirch the investigators.”

This means finding any information that would indicate that, although the FBI has historically been one of the most conservative government agencies, the bureau’s agents are a bunch of Marxists hellbent on “getting” Trump and GOP supporters of his coup.

That also won’t be difficult, in part because any “evidence,” no matter how suspect or circumstantial, will do.

Whether it’s an FBI agent making a campaign contribution or sitting next to a Democratic staffer on the bus, a DOJ official attending a party in DC or having gone to college at the same time as a current member of Congress, all of it will be treated as clear proof that the bureau is targeting Republicans.

Once again, all of these allegations, insinuations, and figments of imagination will be run through the Fox “News” spin cycle. Sean Hannity will be outraged, Tucker Carlson will look befuddled, and the gangs of Fox & Friends or The Five will gladly welcome any Republican who wants to discuss these findings.

The respective targets of the right-wing outrage machine will find themselves harassed, some will get death threats, and maybe another FBI office will be attacked. And all of this so that conservatives can believe (or pretend) that, despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump is not a crook and no GOP officials helped plan an insurrection.

While this sounds like a great outcome for Republicans, this charade comes at a cost. First of all, it drains resources. It also forces those people who are traditional critics of the FBI to now defend the bureau. In addition, like so much of what Republicans and associated propaganda outlets have been doing these past few years, this panel and its “investigations” will sow mistrust and undermine faith in US institutions that, while flawed, are necessary.

Speaking of flawed, do you know what won’t be happening while the GOP conducts this sham? Actual, important, and necessary oversight of the FBI. And that just shows, once again, why Republicans are the opposite of King Midas. 


Author

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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