Updated Jan 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy's fast start: Big Tech is a top target

Speaker McCarthy meets reporters in Statuary Hall early Saturday after being sworn in.

Speaker McCarthy meets reporters in Statuary Hall early Saturday after being sworn in. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

House Republicans plan to launch a new investigative panel this week that will demand copies of White House emails, memos and other communications with Big Tech companies, top sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speaker Kevin McCarthy plans a quick spate of red-meat actions and announcements to reward hardliners who backed him through his harrowing fight for the gavel.

The new panel, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, is partly a response to revelations from Elon Musk in the internal documents he branded the "Twitter Files."

  • House conservatives requested the subcommittee. McCarthy granted it as he worked to wrangle votes.

What we're hearing: The subcommittee will be chaired by House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan — a close McCarthy ally, and a favorite of the hard right.

  • The probe into communications between tech giants and President Biden's aides will look for government pressure that could have resulted in censorship or harassment of conservatives — or squelching of debate on polarizing policies, including the CDC on COVID.
  • The request for documents will be followed by "compulsory processes," including subpoenas if needed, a GOP source tells Axios.
  • In December, Jordan wrote letters to top tech platforms asking for information about "'collusion' with the Biden administration to censor conservatives on their platforms."

The subcommittee's top target is what Republicans call "the politicization of the FBI," including scrutiny of the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

  • The subcommittee also will look into Anthony Fauci and his approach to COVID misinformation and disinformation ... the Justice Department’s interaction with local school boards on masking and other COVID policies … and the Department of Homeland Security's failed effort to create a Disinformation Governance Board.

Ian Sams, a White House spokesman on investigations, tweeted last month after news of the committee broke:

  • "House Republicans continue to make clear that they’re focused on pointless political stunts ... instead of working with [Biden] or congressional Dems to take on the issues Americans care about like tackling inflation."
House Speaker votes for McCarthy, by ballot
Data: Office of the House Clerk. Chart: Axios Visuals

Zoom out: McCarthy, 57, signaled aggressive plans in his victory speech just after he finally won the gavel in Saturday's wee hours:

  • "We're going to pass bills to fix the nation's urgent challenges — from wide-open Southern borders, to American last energy policies, to woke indoctrination in our schools," he said.
  • "We'll also address America's long-term challenges — the debt and the rise of the Chinese Communist Party," he said, vowing to "hold 'the Swamp accountable — from the withdrawal [from] Afghanistan to the origins of COVID and to the weaponization of the FBI."

One of the most aggressive panels will be the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which will change its name under Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

  • On NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, Comer brought up his plans to hold hearings on "Biden family influence-peddling," telling Chuck Todd: "[L]et me be clear — we're not investigating Hunter Biden, we're investigating Joe Biden."

McCarthy said the new bipartisan Select Committee on China will "investigate how to bring back the hundreds of thousands of jobs that went to China."

The bottom line: It's all an effort by Republicans to show unity after the speakership crackup.

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