The House Oversight and Accountability Committee is the major investigative unit in the House. Yesterday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy loaded it with people who enabled Donald Trump’s attempted coup in the months after the 2020 election. They have also called for violence against their political enemies, embraced conspiracy theories, and associated with white supremacists.
McCarthy’s move is the most cynical act of political thuggery since Trump left the White House. Not coincidentally, it is designed to advance Trump’s re-election and his anti-democracy agenda.
The people McCarthy put on the committee include Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Russell Fry of South Carolina, and Anna Paulina Luna of Florida.
To describe them as “conservative” or “extremist” misses the essence of what they’ve done and believe. They are authoritarians who have deep contempt for American democracy.
In the last Congress, Greene and Gosar were removed from congressional committees for posting messages on the Internet that advocated violence against their political enemies. Both have appeared with Nick Fuentes, the white supremacist and Holocaust denier. Greene recently said that, had she led the Jan. 6 attack, “we would have won” and that people would have been “armed.” Gosar has referred to members of the mob that stormed the Capitol as “peaceful patriots.”
Perry was a key figure in Trump’s attempted coup. During the attack on the Capitol, Boebert posted about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location inside the Capitol, and has repeated Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen. Fry has campaigned with election conspiracy theorists including Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow. Luna has denied the results of the 2020 election and has appeared on a television program that has pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory.
As a result of their committee assignment, for the next 22 months leading up to the 2024 election these members of Congress will be the on front line in Trump’s war against the truth of what occurred between November 3, 2020, and January 6, 2021.
They will head inquiries into the Biden administration. They will push to impeach Biden. They will conjure up false conspiracies. They will try to rewrite the history of the Trump administration. They will seek to expunge the two hearings and House vote to impeach Trump, and negate the work and findings of the January 6 special committee.
They will be the backup band for Trump’s incendiary, grievance-filled scorched-earth campaign for re-election in 2024. They will help Trump lead the fight to advance his own warped, authoritarian vision for America.
Kevin McCarthy put these people on the Oversight Committee because that’s what they wanted, and he needed their votes to become Speaker. But in a larger sense, these people typify what the Republican Party has become – a grotesque shadow of Trump, capable of stirring resentments and lies but utterly incapable of rational governance.
Robert Reich spent much of the last half century pushing for positive social change — from the inside (as Secretary of Labor, representing the U.S. before the Supreme Court, advising presidents). And from the outside (author of eighteen books and co-creator of two documentaries, chair of Common Cause, co-founder of The American Prospect, the Economic Policy Institute, and Inequality Media, and teacher of several generations of students).