Wednesday evening, Republicans formally won control of the House.
Thursday morning, in the first public act of the new majority, senior House Republicans revealed their most urgent priority: They would investigate Hunter Biden.
The incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the incoming chairman of the Oversight Committee, James Comer (R-Ky.), and about 10 other members of the brand-new majority walked into the House TV studio first thing Thursday to announce multiple probes into the president’s son.
“Hunter Biden was conducting business with suspected human traffickers,” they asserted, and “Hunter Biden and Joe Biden were involved in a scheme to try to get China to buy liquefied natural gas,” and “credit cards and bank accounts of Hunter and Joe Biden were commingled,” and “Hunter wanted keys made for Joe Biden” to his office. They mentioned Hunter two dozen times in their opening statements alone.
Reporters tried to ask questions about other topics. Comer cut them off. “If we could keep it about Hunter Biden, that would be great,” he said, explaining that “this is kind of a big deal, we think.”
“Why make this your very first visible order of business?” one reporter asked.
Comer assured her that other pressing issues would also be addressed: “Kevin [McCarthy] said the first legislation we’re going to vote on is to repeal the 87,000 IRS agents.”
Great idea! After a GOP campaign focused on crime, their first legislative act will be to protect criminals. They’ll try to block the hiring of IRS enforcement personnel (the true number is much less than 87,000) assigned to crack down on the wealthiest tax cheats. Voters who elected Republicans to fight inflation and gas prices might be feeling puzzled, if not swindled.
But, in fairness, the noisiest voices in the GOP have other plans, too: They also want to cut off military aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion.
A few hours after the Comer and Jordan show, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) took the same stage to announce plans to force a vote on ending funds for Ukraine. “Is Ukraine now the 51st state?” asked Greene, who alleged an elaborate cryptocurrency conspiracy in which military aid for Ukraine actually funds Democrats’ campaigns.
Not too long ago, the Republican Party stood against Russian aggression. But with the GOP’s single-digit majority in the new House, the oddballs hold all the power. “You’ve heard Leader McCarthy say publicly that he doesn’t see very good odds for much funding for Ukraine going forward in a Republican-controlled conference,” Greene pointed out.
Fellow crank Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) agreed: “I will not vote for one more dollar to Ukraine!”
It was heartwarming to see Greene and Gaetz on the same page again. Earlier in the week, they were feuding about whether to deny McCarthy the speakership. (The defection of even a couple of Republicans could doom him.)
Greene backed McCarthy for speaker and told McCarthy’s critics (including many of her fellow members of the far-right Freedom Caucus) to bring it on. “I’m not afraid of the civil war in the GOP — I lean into it,” she said on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast.
Gaetz shot back: “Whatever Kevin has promised Marjorie Taylor Greene, I guarantee you this: At the first opportunity, he will zap her faster than you can say ‘Jewish space laser’” — a reference to the antisemitic sentiments that got Greene kicked off her committees. McCarthy has promised to restore her privileges.
McCarthy’s age-old ambition to be speaker is again teetering. Thirty-one House Republicans opposed his nomination as speaker this week — many times the number needed to sink him when the full House votes in January.
Even if he wins the job, he might soon wish he hadn’t. That’s because he’ll get it only by signing an endless pile of IOUs the crazies are demanding: impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Multiple Hunter Biden investigations. A select committee to investigate China. An investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, investigation. Investigations of Anthony Fauci and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And a panoply of probes into the Justice Department and the FBI. McCarthy is going to be held “completely hostage,” outgoing Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) predicted.
The same day Republicans were yammering about investigating Hunter and defunding Ukraine, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her retirement from leadership after two decades in charge of House Democrats. She was the first woman to be speaker and one of the most effective ever to hold that role.
One of those meetings McCarthy had Thursday was with Greene, who informed him of her anti-Ukraine maneuver. “I said, ‘I’m having a press conference at 4,’” Greene recounted. “And he said, ‘Okay.’”
Of course he did. The crazies are all knocking at his door. And if he wants to be speaker, there is only one answer to their demands: “Okay.”
Image Credits: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), joined by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on Nov. 17. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)