Commentary: The laptop from hell and other stories: Your guide to 2023 congressional investigations

“Congressional investigations — replete with camera-savvy grandstanding antics — are the hallmark of divided government, as well as a time-tested ax for chipping away at presidential approval ratings. Republicans are betting their stagecraft will outweigh the fact that their investigations will almost certainly have no legal effect. “ Salon

From CNN

 House Republicans officially take over Congress and clamor to investigate the Biden administration, a new line of attack fell squarely into their laps: classified documents recovered from one of President Joe Biden’s private offices when he served as vice president.

Congress voted Tuesday to establish a panel engineered to investigate the “weaponization” of the federal government, adding to an already growing list of oversight priorities House Republicans have laid out now that they have committee control and subpoena power. The party-line vote was 221-211. Republicans have vowed to investigate a broad swath of issues ranging from Hunter Biden’s business dealings to the border to the origins of Covid-19 to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many of the probes could serve as a launching point to relitigate Democratic-led investigations into former President Donald Trump, Russia and even seek to portray law enforcement agencies and Twitter as political.

From Salon:

What are the House’s investigative committees? 

There are eight key committees to watch so far. Among those, the three new investigative bodies worth keeping an eye on are the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. But shake-ups in five other standing committees foreshadow more House brawls ahead.  Other committees are Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs, Ethics, Judiciary.

The most wide ranging will be the Judiciary Committee — Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has already pledged that his committee will investigate the Justice Department as he dives into a slate of Biden administration affairs. This will include a select committee “on the Weaponization of the Federal Government “— Jordan will also chair this new and highly-publicized panel, which has been authorized to “investigate the investigators,” especially the ongoing criminal probes of Donald Trump and his inner circle.

Another powerful Committee will be the Oversight and Accountability Committee — Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., will be able to issue subpoenas unilaterally in his role over this powerful committee which has what he calls an “all-star lineup.” And indeed, the committee’s GOP members include such MAGA bold-face names as Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry. And the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic — Chaired by Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, is part of the Oversight Committee. The new panel is likely to dive into pandemic relief fund fraud but may also reinvestigate the origins of COVID-19.

What are the current House GOP investigations?  

The GOP is expected to investigate a host of topics in short order: Biden’s border policies, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origins of COVID-19, cryptocurrency scams and diversity recruiting efforts in the military. Currently, three investigations have commenced in earnest, with chairmen publicly discussing early plans on collection of evidence.

The Justice Department and FBI — Jordan has previously signaled that the Government Weaponization panel plans to go after the FBI and DOJ in what Democrats believe will be an effort to see what cards the agencies hold in their own criminal investigations into Trump. 

Hunter BidenHunter Biden is facing a federal investigation over tax violations but hasn’t been charged with a crime. Comer’s panel will investigate any links between the president and his son, and is clearly eager to pursue the rumors that Joe Biden somehow profited from or meddled in his son’s overseas business deals.

Biden’s classified documents — On Jan. 13, Justice Committee chair Jordan  announced the panel would investigate  Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, sending a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting files related to the DOJ’s findings on the president.

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