The Big Picture
The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives kicked off the 118th Congress by putting the deep state on notice. The recently established House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government will take a close look at the Article II investigative authority of the Executive Branch and how federal agencies have abused it.
As Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) pointed out on the House floor, “The government’s massive surveillance apparatus is well-documented, but there’s still much more that we do not know. We owe it to the American people to reveal the rot within our federal government and cut it out so that it can no longer harm everyday Americans.”
Yesterday, the select subcommittee held its first hearing of the 118th Congress consisting of two panels to discuss the politicization of the FBI and DOJ and attacks on American civil liberties.
Who were the Witnesses?
- U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa
- U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
- U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin, Maryland
- Former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii
- Mr. Thomas Baker, Former FBI Agent
- Professor Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Law Center
- Mr. Elliot Williams, Principal, The Raben Group
- Ms. Nicole Parker, Former FBI Agent
What were members talking about?
The hearing opened with a panel of current and former lawmakers expressing their thoughts and experiences regarding the politicization of our federal agencies. Panelists tackled a wide array of government abuses ranging from the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story, the coordinated effort to suppress dissenting COVID information by top-level bureaucrats such as Anthony Fauci, and the Department of Justice’s attempt to label parents as “domestic terrorists.” Rep. Jaime Jaskin (D-Md.), the minority’s witness, expressed his dissent and criticized the formation of the new select subcommittee.
The second panel consisted of subject matter experts, and former federal agents who were asked to share their insights as members of the subcommittee got an opportunity to ask questions.
One of the most contentious subjects explored during the nearly four-hour hearing was the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) memo labeling thousands of concerned parents attending school board meetings as “domestic terrorists.” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) highlighted the problematic timeline of the DOJ memo, noting that the White House assisted with the drafting of the National School Board Association (NSBA) letter that was used as the basis for the memo.
The evolution of the FBI was also a focal point of conversation that harkened back to Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-N.Y.) earlier line of questioning former FBI agent Thomas Baker referred to as a “cultural rot.” Baker went on to describe the issues with the centralization of authority in the FBI under then-director Robert Mueller, which removed layers of independent decision-making and thought.
As members repeatedly brought up, there is a serious concern among many Americans over the way in which the FBI conducts business. One tool utilized by federal agencies that the 118th Congress will have to take a close look at is Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a provision that will be examined for reauthorization before the end of the year. This program allows federal agencies to collect and store data regarding American citizens collected incidentally. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) cited the staggering statistic that the FBI conducted nearly 3.4 million searches of a database containing Americans’ information collected without a warrant in 2021 alone.
Why it Matters
Federal agencies have records of abuse as long as their individual histories. Politicians, civil rights leaders, celebrities, and average Americans alike have been the subject of federal spying.
It’s long past time Congress rein in historically unaccountable deep state bureaucrats advancing a partisan agenda within our federal agencies. Yesterday’s hearing was only the first in a series that will take place throughout the 118th Congress. As our lawmakers continue to explore the problems plaguing increasingly politicized federal agencies, they must work to enact critical reforms to fix those problems.