It's difficult to know what might motivate different constituencies, but Republican Rep. Jim Jordan probably raised a few Democratic voters' eyebrows last week during a Fox News appearance. The Ohioan not only predicted a GOP takeover of the House after next year's midterm elections, Jordan added, “Lord willing, I’ll get a chance to chair the Judiciary Committee.”
For those familiar with the Republican congressman and his partisan antics — Jordan is, among other things, the former chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus — the idea of him holding the House Judiciary Committee's gavel is unsettling. But just as notable is what the Ohioan would do with the position of authority.
The Washington Post reported overnight on Jordan's and his colleagues' prospective plans.
Republicans are rallying around former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon after his indictment on charges of contempt of Congress on Friday, warning that Democrats’ efforts to force Bannon to comply with what they say is an unfair subpoena paves the way for them to do the same if they take back the House in 2022.
The Post added that "many" GOP officials are warning Democrats that they intend to "go after" President Joe Biden’s aides "for unspecified reasons."
For his part, Jordan wrote on Twitter last week, "Joe Biden has evicerated [sic] Executive Privilege. There are a lot of Republicans eager to hear testimony from [White House Chief of Staff] Ron Klain and [White House National Security Advisor] Jake Sullivan when we take back the House."
Right off the bat, it's worth emphasizing that the president has not, in fact, "eviscerated" the concept of executive privilege. Rather, Biden and his team have concluded it does not apply to former presidents who want to hide important information from Congress about an insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol.
What's more, these threats probably aren't as intimidating as Jordan and his colleagues might think. Republicans held the House majority for three-quarters of Barack Obama's presidency — and three-quarters of Bill Clinton's presidency — and they held all kinds of pointless hearings about manufactured controversies, nearly all of which were meaningless.
Jordan and GOP leaders may have "payback" on their minds in the wake of Bannon's indictment, but to what end? Is it realistic to think the White House will be nervous about congressional subpoenas in response to hollow and forgettable conservative outrages?
Finally, if Democrats have heard about Republicans' retaliatory intentions, they appear indifferent toward them. NBC News reported yesterday:
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol will "move quickly" to refer Mark Meadows, who was former President Donald Trump's White House chief of staff, for criminal contempt for not cooperating with its investigation, a committee member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday.
The Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who also serves on the Jan. 6 investigatory panel, told NBC News' Chuck Todd, “I'm confident we'll move very quickly with respect to Mr. Meadows also, but we want to make sure that we have the strongest possible case to present to the Justice Department and for the Justice Department to present to a grand jury."
Watch this space.