House Republicans launch investigations into FBI and China

By FARNOUSH AMIRI | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON >> House Republicans moved Tuesday to swiftly establish the marquee investigations of their new majority, voting to create panels focused on China and what they assert is rampant abuse of power in the federal government.

Newly empowered, GOP lawmakers are vowing to bring accountability to the Biden administration, pledging to investigate federal law enforcement agencies, including those that are conducting probes into former President Donald Trump.

Republicans also established a committee, with broad bipartisan support, to investigate "strategic competition” between the U.S. and China, in line with the party’s push for a more hardline approach to the Asian nation.

The creation of the committees is the first of many investigative steps Republicans plan to take as they settle into their slim majority and attempt to serve as a check against President Joe Biden and his agenda on Capitol Hill.

It amounts to a massive reshuffling away from the oversight priorities of Democrats, who used their majority to form a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. That committee is no more, and Republicans have no plans to revive it, vowing instead to take a closer look at the actions of law enforcement.

Republicans officially labeled one of the committees as reviewing “the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” a name that from the outset suggests the panel’s investigations maybe one-sided. The probe will be conducted under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee, which is headed by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a hardliner who is a close ally of Trump.

The committee is being given a broad mandate, told to investigate “the expansive role” of the executive branch to “collect information on or otherwise investigate citizens of the United States, including ongoing criminal investigations.” Notably, the panel will have access to classified information, a privilege usually reserved for the intelligence committees in the House and Senate.

First up is investigating what they call a coordinated effort by Justice Department “to go after parents” and deem them domestic terrorists following an increase of threats targeting school board members, teachers and other employees in the nation’s public schools.

Jordan, who is expected to lead the investigation, said the committee is modeled after the bipartisan “Church Committee,” a 1970s congressional investigation that sought to investigate allegations that the U.S. government spied on its own citizens for decades.

That investigation led to significant reforms with the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which requires intelligence agencies to seek permission from a secret court before surveilling Americans.

Democrats opposed the creation of the committee, calling it a partisan tool for Republicans to go after the Justice Department as Trump is the subject of several federal criminal investigations, including for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and his handling and storing of presidential records at Mar-a-Lago.

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