February 09, 2023

Welcome back to Sneak. Smart Brevity™ count: 788 words ... minutes.

💪 1 big thing: GOP's new committee flex

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Republicans have angered Democrats by disbanding subcommittees aimed at protecting civil rights and the environment, Axios' Sophia Cai and Keldy Ortiz report.

  • Why it matters: Democrats say Republicans are ignoring social and environmental crises in their zeal to target President Biden — though it's not unusual for a new majority to reshape the lineup of subcommittees.

Since taking over the House, Republicans have:

  • Disbanded the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
  • Disbanded the Oversight Committee's environmental panel.
  • Replaced the House Financial Services Committee's Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee with one focused on digital assets and cryptocurrency.
  • Renamed the Judiciary Committee's Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee the Immigration Integrity, Security and Enforcement Subcommittee.

A House Oversight spokesperson told Axios the moves are designed to “root out waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement” in government. 

  • What they're saying: Democrats are particularly critical of Republicans' axing of the civil rights panel, which held hearings on police departments' use of force, sentencing and incarceration; the threat of domestic extremism; and the deportation of critically ill children.
  • Democrats say the killing of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police underscored the need for such a panel to examine inequities in how police treat people of color.
  • Video images of Nichols and others being abused by police should have been "enough" to keep the civil rights subcommittee alive, Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), who was on the panel, told Axios. 

Between the lines: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), former chair of the environmental subcommittee, said that by gutting the committee, "Republicans are refusing to even engage in a dialogue."

  • The environmental panel, working with the full oversight committee, had done a two-year investigation into how oil and gas companies misled the public about climate change to cover the role their products play.

The other side: New House Financial Services chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), told The Carolina Journal that his committee took aim at its diversity and inclusion panel because Republicans believe that under Democrats, it “was sidetracked by far-left social policy pet projects.”

2. America's most partisan topics

Share who say <span style="border-bottom: 2px solid #000;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span> should be a top priority for the President and Congress in 2023, by party
Data: Pew Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Another way to understand the GOP committee changes: Just 20% of Republicans say protecting the environment should be a top priority for President Biden and Congress, vs. 67% of Democrats, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

  • Race is also a big divide: Just 13% of Republicans think addressing racial issues should be a top priority, vs. 49% of Democrats.

Share this story.

3. GOP vs. Twitter

Photos by Alex Wong/Getty Images and Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

One intriguing note from today's House Oversight hearing on Twitter, via Axios' Ashley Gold.

  • Former Twitter employee and whistleblower Anika Collier Navaroli said the Trump White House asked to take down a tweet by model Chrissy Teigen that was critical of the former president.

Why it matters: It seems to show the Trump administration doing exactly what Republicans are accusing the Biden administration of doing: interfering to persuade Big Tech companies to remove information viewed as politically damaging, Axios' Stef Kight notes.

The big picture: Distrust in the FBI has been a theme throughout several of the GOP's House investigations.

  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told the Twitter employees they were "played" by the FBI, which Republicans have accused of directing Twitter to take down the 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden's laptop.
  • The rebuttal from Twitter deputy counsel and former FBI lawyer Jim Baker: "I am aware of no unlawful collusion with, or direction from, any government agency or political campaign on how Twitter should have handled the Hunter Biden laptop situation."

Go deeper.

4. 2024 rumbles

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu in 2021. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu is testing donor interest for a 2024 presidential run, Axios' Josh Kraushaar reports.

  • Sununu is forming a 501(c)(4) organization that allows for unlimited donations without disclosing donor identities, he first confirmed to NBC News.

Why it matters: A Sununu candidacy would scramble the impact of New Hampshire in the presidential primary. 

  • One poll, conducted last month for the New Hampshire Journal, found that Sununu polled in third place in the state at 13% — enough to make a significant impact.
  • But Sununu would need to raise big money to have an impact outside of his home state, where his profile is low.

Zoom in: Sununu has served as New Hampshire's governor since 2016, and won re-election comfortably in 2022 despite other Republicans badly underperforming down the ballot.

  • He has been a vocal critic of former President Trump, calling him "f---ing crazy" in his standup routine at the exclusive Gridiron Dinner in 2022.
  • He's also distanced himself from the cultural conservatism of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, casting himself as an economic libertarian in the mold of his "Live Free or Die" state motto.

📬 Thanks for reading. This newsletter was edited by Justin Green and copy edited by Brad Bonhall.