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News analysis: Five key investigations by House Republicans, including COVID origins

U.S. House of Representatives gather in the House of Representatives at the Capitol on January 7, 2023.
U.S. House of Representatives gathers in the House of Representatives at the Capitol on January 7, 2023.

WASHINGTON — With Republicans formally taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, they have vowed to advance the long-promised investigation into the Biden administration, including the chaotic and bloody withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and alleged “weaponization” of the Justice Department and the FBI.

There have been claims that Republicans are about to launch “retaliatory” hearings in retaliation for the Democratic-led investigation of former President Donald Trump, but Republicans have shrugged off the accusations, saying they simply want to exercise oversight duties and hold the administration accountable.

Here are the five most important investigations that Republicans have promised to conduct in this Congress’ House of Representatives:

Justice Department and FBI Back

in the presidency of former President Trump, Republicans accused the FBI

and the Justice Department of being politicized by the government. But both agencies deny this.

The FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago last year as part of an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, and since then allegations that the Biden administration has “weaponized” law enforcement agencies to crack down on political opponents have become a common watchword among Republicans.

Republicans said that in addition to investigating that unprecedented search, they wanted to investigate a range of allegations, including the FBI’s attempt to suppress a negative news story about the business dealings of then-candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, ahead of the 2020 election, and the FBI’s exaggeration of domestic extremism data for political purposes. There is also the Department of Justice directing the FBI to monitor parents at school board meetings.

To “investigate these investigators,” Republicans will form a task force to lead the investigation into the “weaponization of federal government.” The subcommittee will be subordinate to the House Judiciary Committee, which has subpoena powers.

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In November 2022, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee released a report detailing what they called a “rampant culture of impunity, manipulation, and abuse of power at the highest levels.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Republican Rep. Dan Bishop said Republicans had agreed to give the subcommittee enough authority to “get the job done.”

Democrats see the Republican investigation as an attempt to discredit the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump and have vowed to do everything in their power to block the Republican investigation.

Hunter Biden A related investigation,

led by the House Oversight and Reform Committee, will focus on the business dealings of President Biden’s family.

Since his father announced his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election in 2019, Hunter Biden has been the target of Republicans.

Profile photo: US President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Profile photo: US President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Republicans say a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden was discovered in late 2020 with evidence of corrupt business deals and influence peddling.

Republicans, who have been criticized for targeting the sons of presidents, are casting a wider net.

James Comer, the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said on Meet the Press: “Let me be clear: We are not investigating Hunter Biden. We are investigating Joe Biden. The

Justice Department has been investigating Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings since 2018 but has not charged him with any crime.

Hunter Biden has denied any wrongdoing, and President Biden has said he has never discussed business deals with his son.

The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 is also widely seen as one of the targets of the Republican investigation.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee will lead the investigation along with other committees, and Comer has sent letters to the Defense Department and other agencies asking for information on the withdrawal.

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The withdrawal led to the return of the Taliban to power after a 20-year insurgency that killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians.

On August 26, 2021, an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up outside Kabul airport, killing 13 U.S. troops and at least 170 Afghan civilians.

The Biden administration has been criticized by Republicans and some Democrats who believe that the authorities are not adequately prepared for the withdrawal.

Republicans want an investigation into the decision-making process that led to the withdrawal, as well as the misinformation that prompted Biden to declare in early 2021 that the fall of Kabul was not “inevitable,” as well as the decision to leave billions worth of military equipment.

Biden has repeatedly defended the withdrawal, saying it will always be difficult to withdraw from Afghanistan.

China and the origins of COVID-19

Republicans plan to retain the House Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, but try to focus on the origins of the virus and the impact of lockdowns.

In an October 2022 report, Republican aides to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee argued that the virus likely originated from a “research-related accident” in China.

The U.S. intelligence community failed to reach that conclusion, and China said the pandemic originated outside its borders.

But, Comer said, the public deserves “answers about what really happened at that lab in Wuhan, China.”

As part of the upcoming investigation, House Republicans last month released a list of 40 White House officials and health officials they plan to subpoena to testify, including Anthony Verge, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who retired last month Fauci) doctor.

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Republicans say the Biden administration’s “open borders” policy has led to an influx of immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, with a record number of arrests by law enforcement officers last year.

Migrants from Venezuela hold signs seeking help at the U.S.-Mexico border on January 7, 2023.
Migrants from Venezuela hold signs seeking help at the U.S.-Mexico border on January 7, 2023.

Republicans say they also investigate the authorities’ failure to “protect the border,” allegations that Border Patrol agents flogged immigrants in Texas, and a said decline in border enforcement operations and deportations.

Over the weekend, the Biden administration announced it would limit the number of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border and expand the use of the COVID-19 ban — known as Title 42 — but also add some legal avenues for immigrants to apply for asylum. Authorities announced Thursday (Jan. 5) that up to 30,000 Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan immigrants will be allowed to enter the U.S. each month, and they will be able to legally work in the U.S. for up to two years, provided they apply from overseas, pass a background check, and prove they have a financial guarantor in the United States.

Biden administration officials noted that people who entered the United States without authorization without applying for the program would be deported to Mexico under Article 42.

Some hardline right-wing Republicans have called for the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing him of “lying” to Congress by claiming that the border is secure.

Mayorkas said he had no plans to resign, saying on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday: “I still have a lot of work to do.”

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