On Tuesday, House Republicans voted to form a committee to supposedly investigate the bunk conspiracy theory that they have been planting for years that the right is being oppressed by the federal government — a committee that will almost certainly be used to advance the neofascism that has been increasingly embraced by mainstream Republicans.
The formation of the committee passed on party lines, 221 to 211. Republicans plan to use the committee to investigate federal officials and agencies who they say — without evidence — have been silencing conservatives and the GOP, ranging from officials who have probed former President Donald Trump over his numerous alleged crimes to officials who have correctly identified far right school board agitators as actively endangering educators and children. This could include essentially any agency toward which the right wants to aim its attacks, including the FBI or the IRS.
The group, dubbed the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, is expected to be given a similar amount of resources as the select committee to investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, due to a concession last week to far right objectors by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California).
The committee will be led by a lawmaker who is being investigated for his own deeply entrenched role in the January 6 attack — House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). The committee’s mandate will be “whatever Jim Jordan wants to do,” one anonymous source familiar with the group’s plans told The Washington Post.
“Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy claim to be investigating the weaponization of the federal government when, in fact, this new select subcommittee is the weapon itself,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (New York), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement. “It is specifically designed to inject extremist politics into our justice system and shield the MAGA movement from the legal consequences of their actions.”
Indeed, in elevating false narratives on the supposed suppression of conservatives by the federal government — from the position of a federal committee — Republicans will be offering legitimacy to these claims, advancing facism and fueling further grievances on the right.
This is dangerous not only because it could incite violence similar to that of January 6, but also because it could lay the foundation for the right to openly call for political violence in the name of fighting back against so-called oppressors.
Republicans claim to have modeled the committee after the 1970s-era Church Committee, a Senate investigation that unveiled a wide-ranging plot by the CIA, NSA and FBI to assassinate foreign leaders and surveil and attack left-wing movements and civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is no evidence that the government is targeting Republicans for political purposes; if anything, the January 6 committee and other reports on the attack have found that the far right is often given a pass from law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This is perhaps because such agencies have — by the far right’s own admission — significant numbers of far right militants working in their ranks.
Democrats and progressives raised alarm over the committee, warning that it will give Republicans carte blanche to avoid accountability for past and future actions.
“It is clear that this committee is going to be one of personal grievances and defending insurrectionists, led by members who are themselves being investigated for their role in the January 6th insurrection and who have openly defied accountability by not complying with Congressional subpoenas,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) said in a statement. “The goal is not justice, but to delegitimize credible investigations into people who attempted to overthrow our government.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) pointed out that the federal government has been weaponized against actually marginalized groups — often at the behest of right-wing and conservative interests. “The federal government has already been weaponized by Republicans against Black, brown, and other marginalized groups,” she wrote. “So unless they’re investigating themselves, this Insurrection Protection Committee is a sham.”