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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during his weekly news conference Dec. 5, 2019, on Capitol Hill. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Republicans have begun mapping aggressive probes of the Biden administration if they win back the majority — including inquiries into the origins of COVID, a leak of IRS data about billionaires, and accusations the NSA spied on Tucker Carlson. 

Why it matters: The plans, obtained exclusively by Axios, show House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy would make muscular use of majority powers for the last two years of President Biden's term if, as expected, the GOP wins the majority in next year's midterms. 

  • McCarthy plans to send a spate of "preservation notices" to departments throughout Biden's Cabinet, ordering them to retain documents that might be needed for future GOP oversight hearings. 

Between the lines: Republicans want to deflect attention from the 1/6 commission, a real-time probe of real violence, death and looting in the Capitol.

  • As a prelude, House Republicans in August sent Biden a request to "preserve all records related to your Administration’s withdrawal ... from Afghanistan."

Investigations planned by House Republicans — in parallel with their legislative agenda — show they hope to use congressional power to stoke culture wars for 2024:

  • IRS: Leak of a "vast cache of IRS information" about billionaires to ProPublica.
  • National Security Agency: Tucker Carlson last summer accused the spy agency of targeting his show's communications. The NSA said he was never an "intelligence target."
  • Parents: Attorney General Merrick Garland's vow to mobilize the FBI against "threats of violence against school board members," after the National School Boards Association used the phrase "domestic terrorism." The association apologized for its letter.
  • Border: Record levels of illegal immigration.
  • COVID: Origins of the virus, and CDC communications about school closures and mask mandates.
  • Afghanistan: Decisions behind the withdrawal, and an accounting of Americans who remain stranded.
  • JEDI: A disputed cloud-computing contract.

What's next: McCarthy plans to beef up staff, counsel and other resources to be ready to extract information beginning Day 1 if the GOP gets the gavel.

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Go deeper

Biden's epic failures

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

In the two months since signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, President Biden has by almost every measure bombed big time on the things that matter most.

The big picture: Biden, who marks one year in office next Thursday, has never been less popular nationally, after personally lobbying his party and the public on Build Back Better and voting rights — and failing.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.