Investigating ‘Weaponization’ of Government, G.O.P. Airs Old Grievances

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WASHINGTON — When hard-right Republicans extracted concessions from Speaker Kevin McCarthy in exchange for supporting his election last month, one of their top demands was that he robustly fund and give sweeping jurisdiction to a special subcommittee to investigate their claims of pervasive bias in the federal government against conservatives.

But the first public hearing of the new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government produced little to no new evidence about government misconduct or targeting of the right, instead serving mostly as a forum to relitigate old grievances about how former President Donald J. Trump and others have been treated by federal law enforcement officials, Democrats and the news media.

Events were resurfaced from 2016 news cycles that still anger Mr. Trump. The name of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and a favorite target of the right, was repeatedly invoked. There was sinister talk of destructive forces on the left that Republicans said held undue influence both in the United States and globally.

Yet there were no fresh revelations. Fox News, the favorite channel of the right, declined to carry most of the four-hour hearing live, featuring just a few clips before turning to other topics.

“We’ll get back into it for anything newsworthy,” the anchor John Roberts said at one point, before cutting away.

The panel heard on Thursday from current and former lawmakers who outlined an array of concerns. Tulsi Gabbard, a former representative from Hawaii who recently left the Democratic Party, complained that Ms. Clinton had smeared her. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, blasted “partisan media and Democratic leadership” for spreading “fake information” about his work conducting Senate investigations. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, bashed the investigations and impeachments of Mr. Trump.

Topics varied from media bias and Twitter censorship to coronavirus restrictions.

“It is also becoming obvious that the World Health Organization has been captured by the Chinese government,” Mr. Johnson testified. “That global institutions in general have been captured by the left, and that some charitable foundations are exerting far more power over public policy than should be allowed.”

“I have barely scratched the surface in describing the complexity, power, and destructive nature of the forces we face,” he added.

Democrats pushed back, saying that even without new evidence, what the panel was doing was dangerous.

“I’m deeply concerned about the use of this select subcommittee as a place to settle scores, showcase conspiracy theories and advance an extreme agenda,” said Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands, the top Democrat on the newly created subcommittee.

Republicans had conceded the panel was unlikely to break new evidentiary ground in its first session, but Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee promised new findings in the weeks ahead, including hearings featuring government officials, F.B.I. whistle-blowers, media members and Americans “who have been targeted by their government.”

He said the subcommittee is interviewing multiple F.B.I. whistle-blowers.

“In my time in Congress, I have never seen anything like this,” Mr. Jordan said. “Dozens and dozens of whistle-blowers, F.B.I. agents, coming to us, talking about what’s going on — the political nature at the Justice Department.”

On Thursday, the Justice Department responded to a subpoena Mr. Jordan sent last week demanding documents for an investigation into whether the government mistreated parents who were scrutinized after school officials endured threats and harassment over mask mandates and teaching about racism.

Carlos F. Uriarte, an assistant attorney general, called the subpoena “premature” and wrote that the department hoped to resolve the subpoena through “voluntary discussion and cooperation.”

Russell Dye, a spokesman for Mr. Jordan, called that response “wholly inadequate,” adding, “We expect full compliance with the subpoenas.”

Catie Edmondson and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.

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