Kevin McCarthy Promises a Republican Congress Will Obstruct Justice

Kevin McCarthy Promises a Republican Congress Will Obstruct Justice

Kevin McCarthy Promises a Republican Congress Will Obstruct Justice

The GOP leader in the House proposes to intimidate and undermine those who are investigating Donald Trump.

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The FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida was not a “siege.” FBI agents were not “occupying” the former president’s “beautiful home,” as Trump suggested. It was not an example of what Trump described as “prosecutorial misconduct.” Nor was it an “assault [that] could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.” The search was a formal action by law-enforcement officials that involved cooperation by at least two federal agencies—the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service. Those officials executed a court-approved search warrant to advance an appropriate and necessary inquiry into allegations that Trump had engaged in criminal violations of the Presidential Records Act.

No one was surprised that Trump mischaracterized the search. The former president is a desperate man who has a long history of lying when he is in trouble.

What was striking was the response of House Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who quickly issued a statement in which he declared:

I’ve seen enough.

The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization. When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.

Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.

McCarthy, who said after the January 6, 2021, coup attempt that Trump “bears responsibility for his words and actions,” has since decided that he will serve as the former president’s congressional floor manager. He has opposed impeachment of Trump for incitement of insurrection. He has opposed bipartisan inquiries into Trump’s role in the conspiracies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And he has empowered extremists in the House such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) who on Monday night warned ominously that if Republicans take control of the House: “In January, we take on the enemy within.”

That was a threat. The Republican leader in the House should have disowned it. Instead, he amplified it.

McCarthy is now proposing to use the oversight powers of the United States House of Representatives in order to intimidate Department of Justice officials who are clearly engaged in an investigation of criminal wrongdoing. If Republicans win a sufficient number of seats in the November midterm election to make him the next speaker of the US House of Representatives, McCarthy has made it clear that he wants to serve as the point man for efforts to thwart the prosecution of Donald Trump.

Let’s put Republican leader’s words into perspective: McCarthy has every right—indeed, a duty—to promote legitimate oversight of federal agencies by the appropriate House committees. But when he dismisses an inquiry that he knows to be credible as an example of the “weaponized politicization” of law enforcement, McCarthy is signaling that he wants oversight for the purpose of intimidating sworn federal officials who are investigating a political associate.

McCarthy isn’t proposing scrutiny; he is proposing an obstruction of justice.

“This is Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader in the United States House of Representatives, threatening the Attorney General of the United States of America on Twitter,” said author and activist Don Winslow.

As California’s Fresno Bee stated in an editorial, “McCarthy is sweeping aside the rule of law in favor of politics to benefit the one—Donald J. Trump.”

Maya Wiley, a former lawyer with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York who now serves as the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, observed: “We can debate what is and isn’t supported by evidence. We cannot debate the dangers of political retribution for executing subpoenas sanctioned by the 3rd branch of government—a judge.”

Wiley is right. McCarthy is signaling that he and the members of his caucus are prepared to turn the oversight responsibilities described in the US Constitution on their head in order to achieve a political end: the protection of Donald Trump from accountability. That’s not just a recipe for congressional chaos of the sort that transpired in 2015 and ’16, when Republicans on the House Oversight Committee targeted former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who was then the Democratic presidential nominee. As Representative Steny Hoyer, who then served as House Democratic whip, put it, “With their barrage of unwarranted attacks through subpoenas and letters, House Republicans are engaged in a blatant and partisan campaign to discredit Secretary Clinton at the expense of American taxpayers and Congressional resources.”

McCarthy and other GOP partisans who abused their authority in an effort to erect legal barriers to a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 now want to abuse their authority to remove legal barriers to a Republican who is positioning to be their party’s 2024 presidential nominee.

The best way to avert this abuse will come in November, when voters have a chance to prevent Republicans from taking control of the House, and to block McCarthy’s speakership ambitions. If voters keep the House in Democratic hands, there is a mounting likelihood that Trump will be held to account. If voters give McCarthy the power he seeks, however, Trump’s party will undermine even the most legitimate accountability efforts in order to clear the way for their lawless political associate to again seek—and potentially occupy—the Oval Office.

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