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Jim Jordan Puts a Vote on the FBI’s Future
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and his Republican colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee just gave you a terrifying preview of what a MAGA Republican Congress would do if they win the majority on Tuesday. They published a minority members’ staff report on November 4 with the explicit goal of undermining the FBI by presenting it as politicized and dishonest.
In order to “feign a national concern,” the study accuses the FBI and its “woke forces” of “artificially increasing numbers about domestic violent extremism.” This is happening at a time when news organizations are reporting an increase in the number of threats made against election officials every day, as well as reports of armed men “monitoring” Arizona drop boxes and even an intruder who used a hammer to attack the husband of the House Speaker in support of the false “stolen election” narrative that Jordan himself helped to spread.
The precise assertions made in the Republican minority report are refuted by the public record. For instance, it claims that “the attempted kidnapping of Governor Gretchen Whitmer looks to have been fabricated by the FBI.” The story cites defense counsel for the kidnappers’ claims that the FBI “set up” the plan as proof.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) November 5, 2022
But the report omits the following little fact: A Michigan jury found the organizers of the kidnapping conspiracy guilty in August and rejected their entrapment defense. According to the Detroit Free Press, the trial “highlighted the development of violent extremism in America.” (Of the militia organization Wolverine Watchmen, seven have been found guilty in relation to the conspiracy, while two have been exonerated.)
The Republican report is a perfect illustration of Donald Trump’s Alice-in-Wonderland style of messaging: accuse the opposing side of being dishonest, a practice that he and his allies support, tolerate, and rationalize. It is intended to create confusion about who is telling the truth among the general public so that busy people who are living their daily lives disengage and give up attempting to understand the facts. That prevents folks from banding together to defend the institutions that keep us safe.
This is what we can look forward to if the extremist MAGA Republicans win on Tuesday. https://t.co/JmkJ3yxdGp
— Matt Kilboy (@mattkilboy) November 5, 2022
Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian, said it best: “Citizens cannot build the civil society that would allow them to protect themselves without agreement about some basic truths.” It is insufficient for politicians like Trump seeking power to demonize their opponents and sow dissension by weakening voter confidence in elections. To protect the Constitution, several different strategies must be used to attack each institution that has developed over many years.
Nonpartisan law enforcement is one of those institutions that are most crucial. Maintaining our society’s order and respect for the law requires an impartial FBI. Autocrats who intend to exempt themselves from the rule of law face a clear challenge from that kind of FBI. They do this by attempting to “probe the investigators,” claiming that the nation’s top law enforcement has become politicized in order to damage the agency’s reputation. As we have seen in every totalitarian regime, tyrants must maintain control over the police in order to maintain control over the populace.
Here’s the irony of the moment. Republicans have focused their message for the midterm elections on the increase in crime. The federal agency created to regulate it is then attacked. Demagogues like Jordan and his colleagues, who support Trump, want to paint the FBI’s probe into the seditious plots that were devised as the goal of the previous administration as “political.” They want us to downplay or deny that there was an attempt to overturn the Constitution.
That would mean abandoning America as the experiment its founders intended. One of the major challenges in creating a government that is to be run by men over men, as James Madison stated in Federalist No. 51, “lies in oblig[ing the government] to regulate itself.”
According to history, totalitarianism begins by undermining the foundational elements of law and order: governmental institutions. Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present author Ruth Ben-Ghiat stated on Twitter: “You delegitimize the incumbent government & present it as an existential threat. Disinformation is simply the beginning of polarising people; once they are in survival mode, violence becomes inevitable in their eyes.
The Republican minority’s report is clearly timed for the midterms and beyond and is intended to create polarisation through misinformation. In the event that Republicans take control of Congress in January, Jim Jordan will serve as chair of the House Judiciary Committee. You can expect that the November 4 minority members’ staff report will predict the kind of phony MAGA narratives that will be used against FBI Director Chris Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland when they are brought before the committee.