House GOP Ponders Action Against DOJ In Defense Of Trump
House Republicans, having defended former President Trump in the Mar-a-Lago documents scandal, are now considering whether to use their funding and oversight authority against the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Monday urged the appropriations process to defund special counsel Jack Smith and his office managing the Trump documents investigation.
“This is a weaponized government attempt to take down the top political enemy and leading presidential candidate of the United States, Donald J. Trump. We cannot allow the government to be weaponized for political purposes,” Greene said on the House floor.
As part of his focus on the “weaponization” of federal law enforcement agencies, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) would not rule out subpoenaing Smith or asking him to testify, telling reporters this week that he is keeping all options on the table.
However, there has yet to be a widespread consensus regarding the use of spending authority to combat the ongoing Mar-a-Lago documents case.
Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) stated that he had not heard demands within the House Republican Conference to defund the FBI. However, he supported eliminating funding for a new FBI building headquarters in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
“I understand the FBI loves to have a big new palace or something, but I don’t think that’s what the taxpayers want,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy, however, supported Jordan’s efforts to investigate Smith.
“We have an oversight role,” McCarthy said.
Jordan requested additional information from the DOJ regarding Smith’s appointment as Special Counsel and the implementation of the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, earlier this month.
Jordan cited testimony from a former FBI agent who told Republicans on the committee he disagreed with the raid’s strategy.
McCarthy cited this testimony when defending Congress’s oversight role and arguing that President Biden was treated much more equitably than President Trump when classified documents were discovered in his garage.
“What’s concerning to me that now raises a whole new question — was even the same way they handled this from the very beginning, not equal justice, not equal procedure?” McCarthy said. “Because it’s not me saying this. This is now the former — now retired, just recently — director of the local FBI office questioning the way they would handle this. And this was Jack Smith overriding them.”
The Department of Justice declined to fulfill Jordan’s document production and information requests.
“Protecting the confidentiality of non-public information regarding investigations and prosecutions preserves the American people’s confidence in the evenhanded administration of justice by guarding against the appearance of political pressure or other improper attempts to influence Department decisions,” Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte said in a letter to Jordan on Friday, Politico reported.
On Tuesday, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 counts related to allegations that he violated the Espionage Act and obstructed justice by taking classified documents with him after leaving office and refusing to return them.
The backlash against Smith in the wake of Trump’s indictment adds to Republicans’ long-standing mistrust of the FBI and DOJ, which stems from Trump’s rise to the presidency and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Even before the most recent indictment of Donald Trump, many Republicans were interested in reducing funding to the FBI and DOJ because of alleged political bias.
“Members have their concerns because we do see a weaponization of the DOJ. And so why would we fund a Department of Justice to a certain level, when what they’re going to do is use that money to do political targeting?” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said.
Greene brought up the prospect of reducing financing for the FBI and DOJ in a meeting with lawmakers that included staunch conservatives, appropriators, and members of other ideological factions.
The meeting occurred after a group of conservative members halted floor action, partly due to anger over spending caps specified in the debt limit compromise measure signed into law earlier this month.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Arkansas), chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, stated after the meeting that there is “a lot of chatter” about canceling funding for a new FBI headquarters.
“That’s in play right now,” he added.
But Womack was skeptical about the prospects of eliminating any more FBI or DOJ funding.
“We got some members in districts where they like their FBI, they like their federal programs,” Womack said. “I think we have to be careful that we don’t get mad at the administration and take it out on the rank and file.”
And one hard-line conservative Republican in the meeting pumped the brakes on calls to defund the DOJ.
“I was in DOJ for 15 years, and I made the point that DOJ includes the Bureau of Prisons, includes DEA — includes all kinds of agencies that are really important in what we value,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said. “And so we should be careful in how we describe that.”
Source: The Hill