A divided House voted on Tuesday to launch a wide-ranging investigation into federal law enforcement and national security agencies, as Republicans promised to use their new power in Congress to scrutinize what they said was a concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives at all levels, from protesters at school board meetings to former President Donald J. Trump.
On a party-line vote of 221-211 with all Democrats opposed, the House approved the formation of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which is to be chaired by Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Jordan, who was deeply involved in Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, has for months been investigating what he says is a bias in federal law enforcement against conservatives. Now that Republicans have the majority, he plans to use his gavel and his subpoena power to escalate and expand that inquiry, including searching for evidence that federal workers have become politicized and demanding documents about ongoing criminal investigations.
In a floor speech, Mr. Jordan said that his goal was not to target Democrats or law enforcement officers who have scrutinized Mr. Trump’s behavior. He said his interest was merely in “protecting the First Amendment” at a time when he said the right was being unfairly targeted.
“We don’t want to go after anyone,” he said. “We just want it to stop.”
Still, the panel has such broad reach that it appeared positioned to become a main instrument for Republicans to go after the Biden administration, potentially prompting showdowns over access to highly classified information and the details of criminal inquiries.
The subcommittee will have open-ended jurisdiction to scrutinize any issue related to civil liberties or to examine how any agency of the federal government has collected, analyzed and used information about Americans. It also has authority to obtain some of the most sensitive secrets in the government, including information about covert actions that is usually the exclusive territory of the congressional intelligence committees. [Continue reading…]