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Twisting Justice

Thu, 01/12/2023 - 10:05


For some Americans, the word “weaponization” is all they will need to hear about a freshly minted subcommittee in the House of Representatives aimed at blocking prosecutions of former President Donald J. Trump, his cabal of election-denial plotters, and the Jan. 6 rioters and the Republican members of Congress who encouraged them.

This week, and by a party-line vote, the House Republican majority created the theatrically named Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Representative Jim Jordan, who was part of Mr. Trump’s scheming to overturn the 2020 election, will be its chairman. He will have sweeping authority to find proof of what he and many on the right believe is bias in law enforcement against conservatives. This is scary stuff — using claims of bias to thwart investigations even before they are completed could seriously hurt the enforcement of justice.

At core, the subcommittee is all about Mr. Trump, whom many Republicans see as being treated unfairly. Mr. Jordan was outspoken in his defense during his impeachment proceedings and now is poised to gum up the workings of the Biden Justice Department. Critics compare the new committee to the House Un-American Activities Committee, which sought to punish Americans its members believed were sympathetic to Communism. Anti-Communist fervor reached a peak in the 1950s, with hearings led by Senator Joseph McCarthy that are now seen as chilling to First Amendment rights and to have ruined the careers of many Americans who came under the paranoiac scrutiny of the time.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan told The New York Times that the Jordan panel would “enable the House Republicans to interfere with the free operation of businesses they do not like, to inhibit the fight against domestic terrorism and to settle political scores on behalf of Donald Trump.”

Mr. Jordan notably refused to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, as did the now-speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy. This would seem a laughable attempt by the two men to cover their backsides for their involvement in Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power if it were not so serious. Oversight is one thing, trying to control a separate branch of government by subpoena is quite another.

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