House Dems Pin Jim Jordan In 'Amateur Hour' House 'Weaponization' Subcommittee
We always knew things were going to get stupid fast when Republicans took back the House, particularly in the Judiciary Committee where Rep. Jim Jordan is now wielding the gavel. But the speed with which things have descended into utter clownfuckery is a wonder to behold. On the plus side, House Democrats seem to have worked out that they don't need to wait for Republicans to sucker punch them to ... develop a plan to ... convene a subcommittee to ... debate the wisdom of ... maybe possibly punching the GOP in the freakin' face already.
This time they've come out swinging with a prebuttal to the first round of "whistleblowers" interviewed by the Weaponization of Government subcommittee, which is also chaired by Rasslin' Jim.
First off, as detailed in the 316-page reportGOP Witnesses: What Their Disclosures Indicate About the State of the Republican Investigations, these first three witnesses aren't "whistleblowers" in any kind of legal or even colloquial sense. There is a statutory definition of the word, and it involves actually blowing the whistle to your superiors about misconduct, government waste, or violations of the law which you've seen with your own eyes. A public letter to FBI Director Chris Wray ranting about Ray Epps and demanding to know “Why didn’t the FBI open a civil rights violation investigation concerning the killing of Ashli Babbit?” doesn't cut it. Nor does shit you heard at the bar after work.
But more to the point, while Jordan claims to have “dozens and dozens of whistleblowers […] coming to us, talking about what is going on, the political nature at the Justice Department," the first three he interviewed are just rightwing bloviators who are being subsidized by Trump and his allies in an obvious effort to undermine the Justice Department as it investigates Trump himself and his MAGA minions for their attempted coup on January 6, 2021.
In fact, we've met one of these characters before when the Senate's dumbest Republican Ron Johnson and Peepaw Corntweet Chuck Grassley were touting him as the next Frank Serpico. Former FBI Special Agent Stephen Friend has been kicking around the wingnutosphere since August 24, 2021, when he claimed to be a conscientious objector and refused an order to take part in the arrest of a January 6 defendant. It was Friend's opinion that "it was inappropriate to use an FBI SWAT team to arrest a subject for misdemeanor offenses and opined that the subject would likely face extended detainment and biased jury pools in Washington, D.C."
As NBC's Ryan Reilly notes, the defendant in question would appear to be a member of the Three Percenters militia who might have responded to a gentle subpoena by destroying the evidentiary footage he took with the GoPro camera he was wearing on the day in question.
\u201cSetting all else aside, you can see here why the FBI might want to, say, get a copy of that critical GoPro footage rather than issuing a summons and giving him an opportunity to delete the incriminating evidence!\u201d— Ryan J. Reilly (@Ryan J. Reilly) 1663899400
Friend received $5,000 from Kash Patel, who graduated from being Devin Nunes's lackey to being Trump's lackey. Patel even got Friend a job at the Center for Renewing America with Russ Vought, who buried the Ukraine blackmail at the Office of Management and Budget under Trump and has gone on to coordinate messaging for the House Republicans. Vought's outfit is heavily funded by the Conservative Partnership Institute, which is run by Mark Meadows. Please try to imagine the Republican outrage cycle if Democrats showed up with a purported whistleblower who was, say, a DNC staffer. The whole thing is just ridiculous.
And of course the committee is leaking like a sieve, even before the Democrats came out with their report. Here's coverage from Rolling Stone of testimony by witness George Hill:
In the interview, the witness, former FBI supervisory intelligence analyst George Hill, had admitted he had little or no firsthand knowledge of alleged “deep state” scandals. Instead, he brought baggage of his own: a history of inflammatory commentary on social media. Democratic staff had found a tweet in which Hill claimed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had “blood on her hands.” In a since-deleted tweet found by Rolling Stone, Hill wrote “Cancer! GO FASTER!” in response to a tweet from Rep. Lauren Boebert claiming that President Biden had been diagnosed with cancer.
According to portions of transcripts reviewed by Rolling Stone and sources familiar with the exchange, Hill repeatedly declined to respond to the questions and cited his First Amendment rights. (He’d later go on a conservative talk show to accuse Democrats of trying to paint him as a “right-wing nut job” because they couldn’t handle his message.) As the exchange went on, Hill’s attorney, Jason Foster, begged the Democratic counsel to stop asking about his client’s tweets.
Hill's smoking gun is that "a large financial institution may have provided evidence to the FBI in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol." Yep, that's right, banks helped the DOJ catch criminals. Film at 11!
As for the third witness, Garret O'Boyle "claimed that he had made protected disclosures to Committee Republicans but, in his interview, declined to state for the record [in interviews with Democrats] what those disclosures might be." But if you're looking for motivation for those mysterious disclosures, Democrats can hazard a guess:
But Patel’s assistance has not just been financial. He arranged for attorney Jesse Binnall, who served as Donald Trump’s “top election-fraud lawyer” when Trump falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen, to serve as counsel for Garret O’Boyle. When Committee Democrats asked O’Boyle about this financial connection, Binnall appeared to surprise his client with an announcement that he was now representing O’Boyle pro bono. Committee Democrats infer that Binnall hoped to distance his connection to Patel and others.
Republicans who haven't been snorting pure, uncut Newsmax for eleven hours a day seem to grasp that this turd is going to require quite a bit of polishing.
“Clearly there is room to grow and improve before [more] public hearings,” a Republican source told Rolling Stone, conceding that Jim Jordan's work so far has been “very much amateur hour,” and "would make us look like morons” if they went live with it today. Which is probably why they haven't publicized the testimony or scheduled any more hearings.
So, this is all off to a rip-roaring start. Can't wait to see what those crazy GOP kids come up with next!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.