With four days to go before Election Day, the Republicans of the House Judiciary Committee have released a very serious report that is in no way a stunt. Now we get to see how much the media bites.
The report is supposedly about “FBI & DOJ politicization.” In translation: “The FBI and Department of Justice dared investigate Republicans, which can never be a legitimate thing to do.” For instance, it characterizes the FBI’s seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone, which was backed by a court-authorized warrant, as the FBI having “stalked a Republican Congressman while on a family vacation to seize his cell phone.” Basically, if the FBI does its job and that is inconvenient for a Republican, it becomes evidence of politicization, according to the report from the Jim Jordan-led Republican committee members.
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The document also dedicates space to complaints about the Justice Department investigating threats against school board members (portrayed by Republicans as the Justice Department investigating parents simply for speaking in nonthreatening ways at school board meetings), accuses the FBI and Justice Department of “Artificially inflating statistics about domestic violent extremism” (while Republicans desperately need statistics about domestic violent extremism artificially deflated since it’s their people mostly committing this form of terrorism), and “Clearing the Bureau of employees who dissent from its woke, leftist agenda.” Haha, yes, the FBI is well known for its woke leftist agenda. Bunch of wild-eyed dope-smoking antifa hippies over there. (Fewer than 5% of FBI agents are Black, by the way.)
Here’s a measure of how seriously this report should be taken: The House Judiciary Republicans are promoting it as a “1,000 Page Report.”
That’s 470 pages of the same letter out of the 1,000 pages that Republicans are bragging about to make this sound like a detailed, meaty report.
They got their headline from Axios, which ran with “Scoop: House GOP to release 1,000-page road map for Biden FBI probe,” although they also got an Axios “reality check” noting that “Trump himself sought to exert pressure on his own Justice Department throughout his presidency, beginning with his demands for ‘loyalty’ from former FBI director James Comey and culminating in his attempts to use the agency to remain in power after the 2020 election” and quoting former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman: “Throughout my tenure as U.S. attorney, Trump’s Justice Department kept demanding that I use my office to aid them politically, and I kept declining — in ways just tactful enough to keep me from being fired.”
But to House Republicans like Jordan, it’s justified and righteous if a Republican fires an FBI director for refusing to offer loyalty and politicized and corrupt if the FBI executes a search based on a court warrant on a Republican. Their position is really that simple.
Even given all the repetition, the document still contains a large number of falsehoods. Check this out:
In this account, the FBI and Justice Department’s efforts to get Donald Trump to give back the documents he stole become Trump graciously allowing them to try, and every so often coughing up a few more documents or adding security to the storage room where he was keeping the stolen documents.
This is the best part of that passage, though: “On September 13, a federal judge unsealed additional portions of the affidavit—although still largely redacted—that showed President Trump had returned even more documents to the Department than previously known.” So generous of him, right?
But! “Despite the publicly available level of cooperation, Attorney General Garland personally approved the decision to seek a warrant for excessive and unprecedented access to President Trump’s private residence. FBI agents spent approximately nine hours rummaging through President Trump’s personal belongings. They collected more than 11,000 documents, more than 1,600 press articles and printed materials, 19 items of clothing or gifts, and 33 books. They also collected about 100 documents with classification markings.”
I don’t know about you, but to me, following “Trump had returned even more documents to the Department than previously known” with a long list of the things he still had is not exculpatory. Sure, he had more than 11,000 government documents (because that’s a key word missing from their “more than 11,000 documents”—more than 11,000 government documents) in addition to the classified ones, but let’s give the man credit for having returned anything at all, eh? What this shows is that Trump took a damn lot of government documents. And about the “gifts” the FBI seized: Presidents and other government officials are not allowed to keep gifts they are given in their official capacity unless they buy them from the government. Otherwise, gifts are to go to the National Archives. It’s not like we’re talking about Valentine’s Day gifts from Melania and Ivanka.
This report is a political stunt intended to whip up the Republican base with days to go before the election. It’s more than that, though. If Republicans get control of the House and Jordan is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, “This report is a road map of where [Jordan] will go,” a Republican staffer told Axios. It’s a message about how Republicans will govern—through inflated claims about things as basic as how many pages a report has, baseless accusations, and insistence that any attempt to put limits on Republican wrongdoing is illegitimate.
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