In addition, some conservatives who believe the agencies have targeted the Republicans are eager to cut law agency budgets. Then there’s the long-running fight in Congress over a soon-to-expire warrantless surveillance program that has prompted bipartisan accusations of abuse by the FBI.
Rep. steve womack (R-Ark.), an ally of the leadership, predicted that conservative colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee’s government-politicizing panel and their allies would take their battle against the FBI and Justice Department to the chamber. Those Republicans, he said, «believe that the best way to send a message is to use the power of the stock market.»
Whether they will prevail in the form of budget cuts, impeachment or other measures remains to be seen. Efforts by conservatives could backfire and instead expose tension with more established, centrist Republicans who embrace the party’s pro-enforcement roots, the prevailing sentiment within the GOP before Trump came along.
The flaws surfaced during closed-door GOP spending meetings in recent weeks, as some lawmakers warned others to think twice about how they use spending bills to target specific agencies. In a session, the conservative representative. ken dollar (R-Colo.) said he privately urged his colleagues to «be careful» how they talk about funding the Justice Department, adding: «I’m not in favor of cutting the Justice Department.»
The GOP’s external frustrations with the FBI and Justice Department, and the conference’s internal angst over punishing them, will be highlighted ahead of a series of high-profile hearings starting in July. Wray will appear before the Judiciary Committee days after the House returns from its July 4 recess, as POLITICO first reported, while Garland will testify in September.
Your testimony is part of routine supervision hearings. But he concurs with GOP chairmen stepping up a leadership-blessed investigation into the FBI and Justice Department that has sparked new talk of Garland’s impeachment. The Republican investigation, which spans the Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees, focuses on whistleblower claims that the Justice Department and the US Attorney’s office hampered the Hunter Biden investigation.
The threat of impeachment has drawn fierce pushback from the White House and Democrats in Congress. They say the Republicans are carrying out a political vendetta that will not meet the standard of a felony or misdemeanor. White House spokesman Ian Sams argued that House Republicans are «showing they don’t have a positive agenda» and «pushing more partisan gimmicks aimed only at drawing attention to the far right.»
A cabinet official has not been impeached since 1876. Republicans would need near unanimity to target Garland, given his five-seat majority. So for now, they are focusing most of their efforts on investigations.
representatives james eat (R-Ky.), jim jordan (R-Ohio) and jason smith (R-Mo.), who oversees the three committees running the investigation, requested transcribed interviews with Justice Department, FBI and IRS officials involved in the Hunter Biden investigation. That includes trying to woo federal prosecutor David Weiss, who oversaw the federal investigation of the president’s son for years. If Weiss and others don’t comply, Republicans are prepared to use subpoenas.
At the center of the GOP effort is the question of Weiss’ power over the Hunter Biden investigation and whether restrictions were placed on the IRS. Weiss has said that he had the «ultimate authority,» a claim disputed by the whistleblower, and the ability to apply for «special counsel» status. Garland has also emphasized Weiss’ autonomy and said he supports Weiss in testifying in the House.
“Some have chosen to attack the integrity of the Department of Justice, its components and its employees, by stating that we do not treat cases in the same way. … Nothing could be further from the truth,” Garland said during a recent press conference.
Those investigations are likely to stretch into the fall, as Republicans have not set a strict timetable for the impeachment inquiry. The House will be in Washington for just a few weeks before a recess until September 12, when they will focus on trying to avoid a government shutdown.
Lawmakers expect the debate to spill over into the holidays, which brings them to another year-end deadline: reauthorizing a surveillance authority known as Section 702 used by the FBI.
Both legislative pushes have significant consequences for the FBI and DOJ. They also threaten to split the Republican Party.
A bipartisan group of members of the Intelligence Committee is preparing to launch changes to Section 702, as well as the broader law it falls under, which is intended for people abroad but has come under scrutiny because it also has swept the communications of Americans.
The FBI and DOJ have made some internal changes aimed at boosting compliance with surveillance rules, but any congressional reauthorization is expected to add more controls. Lawmakers are seeking penalties for people who lie to the foreign intelligence surveillance court, for example, as well as mandatory transcripts for court hearings and a rule that keeps surveillance requests in the hands of the same judges who initially submit them.
Those lawmakers have also raised a requirement that law enforcement agencies at least notify U.S. citizens who are subject to searches based on data the program collects because they are believed to be potential victims of a crime or campaign of foreign influence.
Republican critics of the FBI want to do even more. They acknowledge that Congress will not pass a complete ban on the surveillance authority, but have suggested not allowing the FBI to search data collected under the program or requiring a warrant for such a search.
Intelligence officials and their congressional allies in both parties say such a move would effectively neutralize the entire program, with consequences for national security.
Some Republicans are also considering using government funding bills and other legislation to guard against surveillance violations stemming from the years-long Trump-focused investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Republican lawmakers have already taken a punitive step in the first draft of their spending plans: withholding more funding for a new FBI headquarters. Conservatives could go further in the House of Representatives by trying to recover money previously approved for the FBI building. and representative dan bishop (RN.C.) said he is talking with colleagues about trying to drastically restructure the FBI outside of expense bills.
The biggest testing ground for the conservatives’ longstanding promise to rein in law enforcement will be the House GOP spending bill that includes the Justice Department budget and the bulk of related funds. with the FBI. Republicans have discussed multiple ideas for that bill, including pay cuts for FBI and DOJ leaders and tying agency funding to responses when Congress makes oversight requests.
Rep. marjorie taylor greene (R-Ga.) also vowed to take perhaps the most headline-grabbing photo: defunding special counsel Jack Smith, who indicted Trump over his handling of classified documents.