Republicans will hold a narrow majority in the House next Congress, and as a result may have the power to wage a conspiracy theory-driven investigatory war on the Biden administration.
The massive “red wave” many conservatives predicted during this year's midterm elections never materialized, as voting majorities in several states and districts rejected candidates backed by former President Donald Trump.
The GOP still plans to move forward with a decidedly Trumpian agenda, however. Prominent conservative movement figures have vowed to probe conspiracy theories related to Hunter Biden, the treatment of jailed Jan. 6 defendants, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., made the GOP's thirst for investigations abundantly clear last year, when he told longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon that Justice Department officials’ “sphincters will tighten” if he’s allowed to investigate them.
Smart political minds might see an underwhelming performance in this year’s midterms as a sign to become less extreme — that might explain why Republicans aren’t doing it.
Nonetheless, Democrats appear to be gearing up for an investigative throw-down. Politico reported on Wednesday that Democratic strategists are relaunching an initiative called the Congressional Integrity Project, which will involve “rapid response teams, investigative researchers, pollsters and eventually a paid media campaign” to push back against the right-wing narratives that emerge out of the Republican-led committees (assuming a Republican speaker of the House is able to coordinate this unwieldy caucus, which has a razor-thin majority). Democratic leadership is aware of the project's relaunch, Politico reported.
This will be the second run for the Congressional Integrity Project. Heidi Przybyla, who co-authored the Politico report, wrote about the group’s debut in 2020 for NBC News. At the time, the group stepped on the scene by raising questions about Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and the wealth he built while in office. (Johnson is one of the richest senators.) The project spotlighted Johnson's support for rich-friendly tax schemes, shedding light on the self-serving motivations potentially underlying Johnson’s decisions.
It seems like we can expect a similar strategy this time around, using “websites, digital ads, mobile billboards, newspaper ads and, occasionally, TV ad buys” targeting the GOP-led investigations, according to Politico.
Kyle Herrig, founder of the Congressional Integrity Project, told the outlet the plan is to “investigate the investigators, expose their political motivations and the monied special interests supporting their work, and hold them accountable for ignoring the urgent priorities of all Americans in order to smear Joe Biden and do the political bidding of Trump and MAGA Republicans.”
On Thursday, The New York Times also reported on Democrats’ efforts to counter-message the GOP-led committees, one of which is being led by activist David Brock’s group, Facts First USA.
Republicans are all-in on probing the Biden administration. But they may want to watch their backs, as it looks like their actions will be under the microscope, as well.