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McCarthy Picks the Witch Hunters

The House Republicans want to go on a witch hunt and for that, one needs witch hunters—that is, people specialized in... well, hunting witches. One of the many things Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had to promise the MAGA 20 in order to get their votes for speaker was a create a special panel to investigate how Democrats have "weaponized" the federal government to investigate and damage conservatives. Of course, the Democrats have done no such thing, so the whole stunt is about enraging the base.

McCarthy has been negotiating with the MAGA 20 for weeks about the exact form the panel would take. The 20 wanted a select committee with subpoena power, roughly the analog of the select committee the Democrats created in the previous Congress to investigate the coup attempt. McCarthy has enough political smarts to realize that the higher the panel's profile, the more damage it can do to the Republican brand, and the more seats it will cost the GOP in 2024. Consequently, he refused that request. The most he was willing to do was create a select subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee to try to bag some witches. In order to get the MAGA 20 to buy into this format, he agreed to name Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a real fire breather if ever there was one, to head the subcommittee (as well as the Judiciary Committee itself). Of course, if McCarthy had ever watched the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz, he would have known that the correct way to dispose of unwanted witches is to use water, not fire.

The deal also included language that gives the Subcommittee the authority to get information from the House Intelligence Committee and the Dept. of Justice. Jordan had better be careful about the former, since the Intelligence Committee handles classified information that must not be made public. He doesn't have to be careful about the latter because the DoJ won't give him the time of day, let alone information about ongoing investigations (and probably not about completed ones, either).

The Republicans on the Subcommittee are a mixed bag. Not all are fire-breathing dragons. Some are other McCarthy allies, like Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND). However, some are not, including Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Dan Bishop (R-NC). But these are the only two who have given him grief in the past. The Subcommittee was initially expected to have 15 members, but McCarthy is trying to increase the size, probably to placate members who want to join the Greatest Show on Earth. If McCarthy succeeds in increasing the Subcommittee size, that will also increase the chances of a couple of loose cannons getting onto it and saying things on camera that the Democrats will feature in their 2024 ads.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) will be on the panel since he is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries hasn't named his other four picks yet (or more if the Subcommittee's size grows). (V)

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