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Judiciary Republicans hint at investigation into FBI, DOJ if they retake the House

Ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 14, in Washington, DC. Jordan and House Judiciary Republicans plan to investigate the FBI and Justice Department--if conservatives retake the house--for political bias.
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Ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 14, in Washington, DC. Jordan and House Judiciary Republicans plan to investigate the FBI and Justice Department--if conservatives retake the house--for political bias.

In a glimpse of what's to come, House Judiciary Committee Republicans warned the FBI and Department of Justice that they plan to investigate both agencies if their party retakes the House of Representatives. And on Friday they released a 1,000-page report about whistleblower accounts of "a rampant culture of unaccountability, manipulation, and abuse at the highest level."

Republicans will more than likely retake the House, and possibly the Senate, with the party heavily favored to win midterm elections in several congressional districts.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who heads the DOJ, and another to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting documents pertaining to committee investigations lurking in the not-too-distant future. The report, titled FBI Whistleblowers: What Their Disclosures Indicate About the Politicization of the FBI And Justice Department, alleges political corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, according to a House Judiciary Republicans press release. Republicans assert in the report that whistleblowers have brought to their attention, "allegations of political bias by the FBI's senior leadership and misuses of the agency's federal law-enforcement powers." The report, while primarily focused on the FBI, also targets the Justice Department as well.

In response to a request for comment on the letter and the report, the FBI told NPR that it has testified to Congress and responded to letters from legislators on numerous occasions to ensure there is an accurate account of their work. It went on to say that its members are dedicated to protecting Americans against terrorism, violent crime and other dangers, all without a political agenda.

"Put quite simply: we follow the facts without regard for politics," the FBI said in a written statement. "While outside opinions and criticism often come with the job, we will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead, do things by the book, and speak through our work."

The DOJ told NPR it declined to comment on the matter.

Both letters and the report come mere days before the close of the 2022 midterm elections, touching on a handful of Republican hot button issues, including but not limited to: domestic violent extremism; allegations against President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden; and the FBI raid on former-President Trump's home where agents seized classified documents, which have become the subject of an ongoing legal battle.

Jordan and the committee Republicans accuse the FBI of, "artificially inflating and manipulating domestic violent extremism statistics for political purposes," in their report, claiming that the bureau is, "fueling the Biden Administration's narrative that domestic violent extremism is the biggest threat to our nation."

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security released a Strategic Intelligence Assessment and Data on Domestic Terrorism report in October, which asserts that domestic violent extremists represent one of the most persistent threats to the country. The report listed more than 30 incidents from 2020 and 2021 it categorized as significant cases of domestic terrorism incidents.

"These individuals are often radicalized online and look to conduct attacks with easily accessible weapons," the report reads. "Many of these violent extremists are motivated and inspired by a mix of ideological, socio-political and personal grievances against their targets."

According to the report, anti-government or anti-authority and racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism accounted for 77% of the FBI's domestic terrorism investigations in 2020 and 57% in 2021. And, a significant portion of the investigations from 2021 were directly related to the January 2021 siege at the Capitol, the report noted.

In his letters to both agencies, Jordan set a deadline of Nov. 16, to turnover the documents requested by the House Judiciary Republicans.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.