Opinion | Distinguished pols of the week: Dems who turned the tables on MAGA inquisitors


As I predicted, MAGA Republicans in charge of House committees are having a difficult time conducting their inquests into made-up scandals. That’s because savvy Democrats are effectively turning the tables to use the committees against Republicans.

Consider the House Oversight Committee, which held a hearing on Wednesday featuring former Twitter executives. This hearing stemmed from the GOP’s obsession with Hunter Biden, specifically the ludicrous claim that the FBI in 2020 (during the Trump administration no less) colluded with Twitter to block users from sharing a New York Post article reporting on the contents of a laptop that belonged to Hunter Biden. (Don’t worry about parsing the details of this conspiracy theory. It’s nonsense.)

Not only did Republicans fail to produce any evidence that the government was involved in Twitter’s decisions regarding Hunter Biden, but they also showed themselves to be unhinged bullies as they insulted and appeared to threaten former Twitter executives.

Greg Sargent: This Gen Z Democrat is deftly skewering right-wing fantasies

But Democrats did more than just let Republicans make a spectacle of themselves. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) elicited testimony that in 2019, Twitter changed its policies to avoid taking down a racist tweet by then-President Donald Trump that violated the platform’s content rules. “So much for bias against right wing on Twitter,” Ocasio-Cortez said. A witness also testified the White House leaned on Twitter to take down a vulgar post insulting Trump.

Meanwhile, freshman Rep. Daniel S. Goldman (D-N.Y.) took time to thoroughly debunk the underlying accusation against the Bidens:

Then there was Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), who explained to Republicans, as though they were first-year law students, that the entire premise of the hearing was flawed. “I think there’s just a basic legal fallacy and logical fallacy that permeates most questions these days,” he said. “Under our First Amendment there is a requirement for state action. There is no state action here.”

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Raskin continued: “If Twitter wants to have nothing but tweets commenting on New York Post articles run all day, it can do that. And if it makes it so tweets mentioning the New York Post never see the light of day, it can do that, too. That’s what the First Amendment means.” He concluded, “This has been a wild cyber goose chase all day. It has turned up absolutely nothing.”

His remarks are worth savoring in full:

Things were no better for Republicans during Thursday’s hearing for the subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R- Ohio). As the Associated Press reported, the hearing “featured partisan and sometimes blatantly inaccurate testimony from some of the most veteran Republicans in Congress. Much of it focused on grievances about actions taken by federal officials when former President Donald Trump was in office.”

Once again, Goldman tied Republicans up in knots. He bashed Republicans for claiming that they had heard from dozens of witnesses who supported their accusations without providing any notes or transcriptions evidencing such conversations to Democratic committee members. He also bludgeoned one of the Republican’s witnesses, former FBI official Thomas Baker, brought in to discuss how the agency had been weaponized, even though he retired from the FBI way back in 1999. (Goldman wisecracked that 1999 was so long ago that smart phones had not yet been invented.)

Democrats came to these hearings prepared and focused. They not only eviscerated GOP conspiracy theories but also did a bang-up job exposing Republicans as the ones who have “weaponized” the government.

Perhaps this was inevitable. MAGA conspiracy theories only work in the hermetically sealed universe of right-wing media, where no assumptions are challenged, no hard questions are posed and no complete explanation of a supposed scandal is required. In that realm, a MAGA lawmaker can scream “Hunter Biden!” and be cheered for “owning the Libs.”

Once set loose into the real world, however, the MAGA conspiratorialists find it tough sledding. President Biden has no reason to be concerned about these congressional probes so long as Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez, Goldman and Raskin are there to embarrass Republicans.

For going on the offense, defending the First Amendment and exposing the vapidness of the GOP’s inquiries, we can say well done, Reps. Goldman, Raskin and Ocasio-Cortez.

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