To counter the expected investigational onslaught of the likely incoming House GOP majority, a group of top Democratic strategists have created a multimillion-dollar hub. This hub will focus on President Joe Biden’s administration and his son as well as potential Cabinet impeachments.
In an interview, Kyle Herrig, founder of the newly relaunched Congressional Integrity Project, said that details were first shared with POLITICO. The initiative will include pollsters, investigators, and rapid response teams.
Herrig stated that it is designed to be the party’s “leading warfare room” to counter House Republican investigations. He said that the project would “investigate and expose the political motivations of the investigators and the monied interests supporting them work and hold them responsible for neglecting the urgent priorities of all Americans to smear Joe Biden” and serve the political purposes of Trump and MAGA Republicans.
Already, a team of researchers is searching public records and press clippings for any information that could be used to undercut House GOP leaders. This includes Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader and speaker hopeful, to the likely committee chairmen who will manage investigations into Biden and his network.
The House GOP regards investigations as a key part of its agenda for next Congress, once it has the narrow majority expected. This is especially true given that much of its legislative wishlist is on track to stall due to the Senate filibuster (Democratic president) and the Senate filibuster. McCarthy has spoken privately with committee chairs-in–waiting to coordinate plans. This makes the quick launch of the outside group pushback plan a possible godsend for Democrats.
According to someone familiar with the plans, the Hill’s Democratic leadership has been briefed on the project’s relaunch.
Brad Woodhouse is a Democratic strategist and part of the project’s new leadership team. He called the House GOP’s looming investigations “vendettas” after two impeachments and investigations into former President Donald Trump, while Democrats controlled Congress, which included the bipartisan select panel probing the Jan. 6, Capitol riot.
Woodhouse stated that the project will “exploit every tactic possible”. He added: “It’s not enough just to wait and watch what they’re doing and how far they go.”
Although Republicans won’t officially take control of the House until January 1, its leaders have already pledged to expand their investigative powers. McCarthy stated it at his recent conference agenda rollout that “Every committee has oversight responsibilities.”
Herrig stated that House Republicans have “practically outlined no substantive agenda to govern.” “This is what they are going to do… you really need a concentrated effort that does this every day.”
Herrig and Woodhouse will be joined by Leslie Dach, a prominent Democratic communications specialist, who served as a consultant to the Biden administration’s pandemic response and has been leading progressive organizations for decades.
As a sign of how important the initiative will be over the next two-years — and its proximity the White House — Jeff Peck, an ex-aide to Biden during his time in the Senate, served as vice chair and treasurer of the Biden Foundation and as senior adviser to the Biden/Harris transition.
Republicans will have support in their oversight drive for the last two years of Biden’s term from a coalition outside conservative research groups. They have already identified potential targets and begun digging into issues such as Hunter Biden’s business dealings to immigration policies.
GOP lawmakers have made their own investigative breadcrumbs, which make it clear where they are going. James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, is likely to lead the Hunter Biden probe. Republicans are already planning to raise the probe from Joe Biden. However, there has been no evidence that his decisions were affected in any way by his son’s business dealings. Recently, Comer stated to POLITICO he and the likely Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R.Ohio), would give a public update on this week.
Jordan is, however, getting ready to use the gavel that he has in his hand to conduct an extensive investigation into both the Justice Department (often a target of Trump’s ire) and the FBI. The probe will cover everything, from the Mar-a-Lago search for classified documents to tracking threats to local school officials. This is what the GOP calls an attempt to target parents despite the fact that the bureau denies it.
Other areas of GOP interest include withdrawal from Afghanistan and Ukraine aid, as well as a coronavirus probe which is likely to sweep up Anthony Fauci, a long-time public health advisor.
McCarthy and his aides are under pressure from their base, and some members their own conference to combine their investigations with impeachment Articles. Some in the party are clearly hungry for retribution after Trump was impeached twice. Although McCarthy doesn’t support impeaching Biden, it is likely to be a difficult task and one that McCarthy won’t endorse for now. Republicans view Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, as a better target for an attempted removal from office.
The latest sign that Republicans aren’t serious in trying to pass immigration legislation is the promise by Republicans to investigate Mayorkas’ department and border. They also slam Republican investigation plans as weak attempts to help Trump. Jordan’s remarks earlier this year, in which he described GOP probes as “frame up 2024”, is a prime example of their disapproval.
The Congressional Integrity Project also seeks to raise funds for a paid media program, which will include dedicated websites, digital ads (mobile billboards), newspaper ads, and sometimes TV ad purchases. Project leaders stated that the public opinion research of the project will be shared with other like-minded organizations as well as congressional allies in order to compare GOP investigations with issues most important to the American people.
They want to avoid a repeat of 2016’s presidential campaign, when Republicans controlled the House. In that year, they created a select panel to investigate the 2012 attack in Benghazi (Libya) on U.S. missions. Four Americans were killed. The GOP select panel focused on Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, as she was preparing to run for the Democratic nomination. This culminated in an eleven-hour interview of Clinton.
The two-year Benghazi investigation by Republicans cost $7 million in taxpayer funds and dragged Clinton on the campaign trail. Finally a 800-page report was produced that did not focus on Clinton.
In 2015 , McCarthy, then-Majority Leader, joked to Fox News’ Sean Hannity about how the Benghazi committee had helped Clinton drop in poll numbers. Woodhouse recalled that McCarthy took a lot for the investigation, but it was ultimately true” that Clinton suffered politically from the findings.
Democrats are hoping that the flood of investigations will result in a repeat 1998 midterm election, which was held under the GOP push for impeaching then-President Bill Clinton. The Democrats were able to overcome historical trends in House races that favour the party not occupying the White House by launching a voter backlash.