Well, here we go again. House Republicans have been shrieking that they're going to impeach a whole passel of top officials in the Joe Biden administration for supposed crimes that include investigating seditionist Donald Trump too much and investigating Hunter Biden too little, but every once in a while one of them remembers that Congress also has the power to simply zero out the salaries of any executive branch employees they don't particularly like.
It's akin to a bill of attainder targeting a particular executive official's career. Frustrated congressional cornballs have been sporadically remembering the power for years now, especially whenever some government agency does something that they really super do not like but can't muster the legislative votes to actually change.
Politico reports that House Republican cranks are again threatening to use this power, probably after someone in the Freedom Caucus sobered up long enough to remember it existed. The possible targets reportedly include Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and "some are hoping to use the procedure on investigators working for special counsel Jack Smith."
That last part is another bit of nice, clean proof that at least "some" House Republicans are eager to use their positions as U.S. congresscreatures to interfere specifically with the ongoing investigations and criminal charges against the coup-attempting, document-stealing Donald Trump. As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's bag of deplorables prepare to begin impeachment proceedings against Garland for not finding anything except petty crimes to indict Hunter Biden on, yet again disrupting one of Rudy Giuliani and Republicanism's most grand pro-Russia, anti-Ukraine conspiracy theories, and enraging the petty fascists of the party beyond all hope of reason, there are at least some bozos in the caucus eager to target the Jack Smith investigation specifically.
It’s a simple enough strategy: Zero out the salaries of any Department of Justice or FBI official involved with prosecuting Trump for lying to federal officials about stolen national security documents, and you'll neatly empty out the offices of anyone willing to pursue Trump's crimes. It's a gleefully corrupt act, all premised on the House Republican insistence that the government must arrest their enemies for committing crimes they can't prove while letting powerful Republicans get away with crimes even if they're caught in the act.
And this is why it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that the Freedom Caucus and allies are not so much a political caucus as an organized crime ring. Not a well-organized crime ring, mind you, but organized enough.
Now that Politico has brought us this news, it's time for the usual caveats. Guess what? House Republicans won't actually be able to zero out salaries whether they "want" to or not, and that's because the whole scheme has the same flaw that supposed impeachment of federal officials does. The Democratic-held Senate would have to agree, and the Senate has no interest in helping Jim Jordan's crime spree along. A bill to do this would go nowhere.
It's also an arcane enough move that one imagines it wouldn't be worth all that much for House Republicans to try it for the sake of campaign trail bragging rights: "I tried to take away Merrick Garland's paycheck but it didn't work" isn't the best bullet point for a campaign flier. House Republicans will instead probably keep moving forward with a Garland impeachment "investigation," solely because it would be an opportunity for an extended, months-long spectacle. Jordan and other House Republicans are still clamoring for revenge against House Democrats who had the audacity to impeach Trump twice: once for attempting to extort the Ukrainian government for personal gain, and once for that whole "attempting to violently overthrow the United States government" thing.
Remember, too, that Jordan's been demanding state and federal prosecutors turn over their case materials to him in the cases where Trump has already been indicted. House Republicans aren't just interfering with the multiple criminal investigations of Trump, they're doing it repeatedly, continually, and as an explicit strategy. And why wouldn't they? They were willing to obstruct investigations of an attempted Republican coup, they're hardly going to recoil at this sort of old-school corruption.
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