Operating with a broad mandate, Republican members of the new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government told The Epoch Times that they will investigate any area where the federal government has abused its power and violated the rights of citizens.
The GOP members of the subcommittee, which is under the House Judiciary Committee, are Reps. Darrell Issa (Calif.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Chris Stewart (Utah), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Mike Johnson (La.), Chip Roy (Texas), Kelly Armstrong (N.D.), Greg Steube (Fla.), Dan Bishop (N.C.), Kat Cammack (Fla.), and Harriet Hageman (Wyo.).
The select subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Since its establishment, some Democrats have criticized the panel, calling it a Republican ploy to shield allies from ongoing criminal investigations, such as the Jan. 6 Capitol breach and those into former President Donald Trump.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) derided the panel on the House floor late Jan. 10, calling it “nothing more than a deranged ploy by the MAGA extremists who have hijacked the party and want to use taxpayer money to push their far-right conspiracy nonsense.”
Subcommittee members dismissed these allegations, contending that the panel is focused on government and law enforcement overreach, which one congressman described as “the signature abuse of power of our time,” in much the same way Watergate defined another era.
“I’ve heard them call us the MAGA committee, a tin foil hat committee, etc. etc. I’m disheartened by that,” Rep. Thomas Massie told The Epoch Times.
“In the 10 years that I’ve been here I’ve been able to find Democrat co-sponsors to rein in the spying state and I hope that the Democrats will place some of their members on the subcommittee who are genuine and have been genuine in the past like Zoe Lofgren [D-Calif.] and Ro Khanna [D-Calif.] who co-sponsored legislation that we’ve offered together to make sure that the government isn’t spying on Americans without a warrant,” added Massie.
For now, the subcommittee will specifically look at abuses by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI, the legality of vaccine mandates, disinformation about conservative-sponsored election security laws, and censorship by big tech firms under government pressure, according to subcommittee members.
The new panel will examine how these abuses happened, how to correct them, and how to make sure the abuses won’t happen again, subcommittee member Rep. Mike Johnson told The Epoch Times.
“Since the beginning of the Biden administration, some federal agencies designed to serve and keep Americans safe have instead been turned against them,” he said.
“This fact is beyond dispute. The Biden administration has used counterterrorism resources against the parents of school children, raided the homes of political opponents, targeted conservative states over their election integrity laws, inflated domestic extremism statistics, and instituted illegal vaccine mandates, just to name a handful of examples,” he added.
Russia Collusion Hoax
For Rep. Chris Stewart, who also serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, his priority is to investigate the now-debunked allegations that the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia in election interference during the 2016 campaign.
“My priorities are really a continuation of the work that we’ve been doing through the Intelligence Committee that highlights and recognizes and roots out the corruption that we’ve seen from leadership in some of our most key agencies that just hasn’t been exposed or held accountable, like it should have been,” Stewart told The Epoch Times.
Stewart, who was a test pilot in the Air Force before being elected to Congress, said he remembers going down to the FBI, being locked in a small room, and reading the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance application (FISA) that the FBI gave to the FISA courts to justify the Russia investigation and thinking, ‘Holy cow! These guys are lying to us.’
“And I remember getting reports from the CIA, about Russian interference in the 2016 elections and knowing that the CIA had released a report that was not honest,” he added.
The members emphasized that the subcommittee isn’t just relegated to investigating specific abuses, like the Russian collusion hoax or specific agencies.
“We have a very broad charter. We’re not limited to [investigating the] DOJ and FBI,” said Massie.
But before the investigations really get pointed in one direction or another, the subcommittee needs to do some preliminary work on what area claims the most priority.
“I think there’s a period of time for plowing up the ground and sowing some seeds and then we’ll need to focus on the most egregious and most credible concerns that we find,” said the representative from Kentucky.
“That’s one of the reasons this is a ‘select’ committee and that the Intel Committee has agreed to share jurisdiction if we have to go into secret or top-secret areas,” he added.
Massie contended that criticism that the panel’s power to investigate “ongoing criminal investigations” would undermine DOJ and FBI probes on foot was not warranted.
“It’s oftentimes a flare that the executive branch tries to send out to keep us from pursuing legitimate investigations,” said Massie.
“The fact that the DOJ and FBI try to use that as an excuse to not submit to the oversight of the branch that created them is just unbelievable,” he added.
Steward agreed, arguing that for a long time, the FBI leadership has avoided taking responsibility for the politicization of the agency. He emphasized that the typical FBI line agents, who do the normal, daily job of investigating crimes in the country do a great job.
“Those who are responsible [for the abuses] are those people on the seventh floor [of the FBI],” said Stewart, adding that the same held true for the DOJ and CIA.
“The problem is that people like that were given power and then they surrounded themselves with people who felt the same way ideologically as they did,” he added.
‘Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong’
Rep. Darrell Issa said that the panel’s investigation also represents Congress’ core constitutional responsibility to not only highlight abuses by the federal government, but ensure that the abuses never happen again.
“We know that something has gone terribly wrong in Washington’s conception of governmental power, public accountability, and the American people’s right to have a voice that is both strong and free,” Issa said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.
“The weaponization of the federal government against the American people is the signature abuse of power of our time, and I see no way Congress can look away and not seek due accountability,” he added.
Massie said that in order for the DOJ and FBI to reclaim some credibility with the American people, it’s time for the agencies to stop being political and cooperate with congressional investigators.
“They do have to come clean before they can start that process of reestablishing credibility,” he said.
The FBI declined to specifically comment in response to the lawmakers’ allegations, but a spokesperson said the agency’s work was apolitical.
“The FBI has testified to Congress and responded to letters from legislators on numerous occasions to provide an accurate accounting of how we do our work. The FBI is dedicated to protecting the American people from terrorism, violent crime, cyber threats and other dangers,” an FBI spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.
“Put quite simply: we follow the facts without regard for politics. While outside opinions and criticism often come with the job, we will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead, do things by the book, and speak through our work,” the spokesperson added.
The DOJ and CIA did not return requests for comment by press time.
This article was updated to include a statement from the FBI.
From The Epoch Times