Top House Republicans stepped up their attacks on President Biden and the Justice Department Friday after former President Donald J. Trump’s federal impeachment falsely suggesting that Mr. Biden, not a grand jury made up of American citizens, is accused of crimes as part of a political vendetta.
It was the latest instance in which high-ranking Republicans in Congress closed ranks behind the former president and helped spread baseless accusations against the government, undermining public confidence in the rule of law and stoking intense anger in the basis of their party against the nation’s institutions.
“Let’s be clear about what’s going on: Joe Biden is arming his Justice Department against his own political rival,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House. « This false accusation is the continuation of the unending political persecution of Donald Trump. »
Mr Scalise’s comments followed those of spokesman Kevin McCarthy, who vowed to « hold this blatant weapon of power accountable ».
“It is inconceivable for a president to impeach the leading candidate who opposes him,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter Thursday night, adding, “I and every American who believes in the rule of law stand with President Trump against this gross injustice.”
The Justice Department has gone to great lengths to distance the White House from its job, appointing two special counsels to look into Trump and Biden’s handling of confidential documents in an effort to insulate the investigation from allegations of political influence. White House officials said Biden learned of the allegations against Trump at the same time as the rest of the public.
But House Republican leaders have closely aligned with Trump for years and are under more intense pressure than ever from their right flank to defend him as they struggle to hold together a governing majority in the House.
Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 GOP leader, suggested the allegations, which were brought by a special counsel who has been examining Trump’s handling of confidential documents for months, were designed to distract from House Republican investigations into Mr. Biden’s family.
« On the exact same day that the FBI is forced to deliver absolutely damning and credible allegations to Congress regarding Joe Biden’s illegal, egregious, treasonous corruption, Joe Biden weaponises his Justice Department to indict Donald Trump, » he said. said Ms. Stefanik on Friday.
He was referring to a document that contains a baseless and years-old corruption allegation against Mr. Biden that has been reviewed and deemed unworthy of further investigation by the Trump Justice Department.
House Republicans have reacted with outrage since the allegations were disclosed Thursday night, vowing to use their majority in Congress to fight the Justice Department.
“WITCH HUNT,” was posted on the Twitter account of the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee minutes after news of the indictment went public.
The chairman of that panel, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, has used his perch to attempt to lobby the Justice Department over what he sees as unfair treatment of Mr. Trump. Mr. Jordan this week sent to letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for redacted documents regarding the investigation by Special Counsel, Jack Smith.
Members of Congress do not have the power to stop criminal charges, but they may attempt to interfere with prosecutors through their legislative powers, such as issuing subpoenas, requesting witness interviews or documents, limiting Justice Department funding, and use their office platform to attempt to publicly influence the case.
They can also set the tone for how their constituents view the trial of the former president and current Republican presidential candidate, an unprecedented phenomenon in American history.
One congressman, Representative Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, hinted at a strong backlash, in a cryptic tweet that appeared to refer to Trump as the real American president — « rPOTUS, » an acronym sometimes used by his supporters for » true president of the United States” – referred to the scale used in military maps, and told his followers to « buckle up ».
GOP leaders in the Senate have taken a different tone, with the top two Senate Republicans remaining silent following the impeachment.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a former presidential candidate of his party and a leading critic of Trump, condemned the former president’s conduct.
“Mr. Trump has shouldered these allegations by not only taking confidential documents, but simply refusing to return them when given numerous opportunities to do so,” Romney said in a statement.