House Republicans Gear Up for Unprecedented Confrontation with FBI and DOJ

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GOP Majority Sets Stage for Confrontation over Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal and Trump’s Indictment

In an unprecedented move, House Republicans are preparing for a heated confrontation with the FBI and Justice Department (DOJ), vowing to take punitive steps against the agencies in response to recent decisions that the GOP perceives as either anti-Trump or pro-Biden. With their majority half a year in and the party’s right flank growing increasingly restless, House Republicans are gearing up for a battle that could reshape their party dynamics.

At the forefront of their grievances are two major incidents: Hunter Biden’s plea deal with federal investigators and Donald Trump’s indictment concerning the handling of classified documents. These incidents have fueled the GOP’s resolve to take on the law enforcement agencies and make it a cornerstone of their agenda in the coming months.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has already issued a stern warning, threatening to explore the possibility of impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland. Simultaneously, there have been calls from conservative quarters to consider removing FBI Director Christopher Wray from his position through a vote.

Furthermore, some House conservatives who believe the agencies have unfairly targeted Republicans are eager to slash the law agencies’ budgets. The long-brewing congressional fight over the soon-to-expire warrantless surveillance program has also escalated, leading to bipartisan accusations of abuse by the FBI.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), an ally of the GOP leadership, predicts that conservative colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee’s government politicization panel and their allies will escalate their fight against the FBI and DOJ on the House floor, leveraging the power of the purse to send a strong message.

However, it remains uncertain whether the Republicans’ efforts to curtail the agencies’ powers will succeed. The push to use budget cuts, impeachment, or other measures mightneed to overcome potential backlash from centrist and more establishment Republicans who embrace the party’s traditional pro-law enforcement stance, which prevailed before the Trump era.

The fault lines within the GOP have become apparent during closed-door House GOP spending meetings, where some lawmakers have cautioned their colleagues about targeting specific agencies through spending bills. Conservative Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) privately urged caution regarding discussions on Justice Department funding, stating his opposition to cutting DOJ’s budget.

As tensions mount between House Republicans and the FBI and DOJ, a series of high-profile hearings scheduled for July will provide a platform for further confrontation. FBI Director Christopher Wray is set to testify before the Judiciary Committee, followed by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s testimony in September. Although routine oversight hearings, these sessions coincide with Republican-led investigations into alleged hindrance of the Hunter Biden probe by DOJ and a U.S. attorney’s office, as claimed by whistleblowers.

The mere mention of impeachment has drawn fierce pushback from the White House and congressional Democrats, who view it as a politically motivated vendetta without sufficient grounds. White House spokesperson Ian Sams has criticized House Republicans for their lack of a positive agenda, accusing them of resorting to partisan stunts to gain attention from the far-right.

Impeaching Garland would require near unanimity within the Republican Party due to their slim majority. Consequently, the GOP is primarily focusing on investigations, with Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Jason Smith (R-Mo.) leading the inquiry. These lawmakers have requested transcribed interviews with officials from DOJ, FBI, and IRS involved in the Hunter Biden investigation, and they are prepared to use subpoenas if necessary.

The central issue under scrutiny is the extent of U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ authority in the Hunter Biden investigation and the possible constraints imposed on the IRS. Weiss claims to have had “ultimate authority,” a claim contested by the whistleblower. Garland has expressed support for Weiss testifying before the House, emphasizing his autonomy and dismissing allegations of bias.

These investigations are expected to extend into the fall, with no set timeline for the impeachment inquiry. In the meantime, Congress will be preoccupied with debates on reauthorizing Section 702, a surveillance authority employed by the FBI. Bipartisan lawmakers on the Intelligence Committee are seeking changes to the program, including increased checks on compliance and penalties for those who deceive the foreign intelligence surveillance court.

While some Republicans advocate for restrictions on the FBI’s ability to search data collected under the surveillance program or the requirement of a warrant, intelligence officials and their allies warn that such measures would severely hamper national security efforts.

House Republicans have already taken initial punitive steps by withholding funding for a new FBI headquarters in their spending plans. The possibility of further clawbacks and restructuring the FBI is also being considered, indicating the depth of the GOP’s determination to rein in law enforcement agencies.

The ultimate test for House Republicans’ campaign to curtail the powers of the FBI and DOJ will be the House GOP spending bill, which encompasses the DOJ budget and major FBI-related funding. Proposals under discussion include salary cuts for leaders in these agencies and tying agency funding to compliance with congressional oversight requests.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has gone a step further, pledging to defund Special Counsel Jack Smith, who indicted Trump over his handling of classified documents, creating further headlines and controversy.

As House Republicans forge ahead with their efforts to confront the FBI and DOJ, the battle lines are drawn. The outcome remains uncertain, with the potential for both internal divisions and external consequences that could shape the future of the Republican Party and its stance on law enforcement.

Source: Politico

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