When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield threatened Attorney General Merrick Garland on Twitter Monday night for deploying FBI agents to search the Florida resort of former President Donald Trump, it was a political declaration of war.
McCarthy once swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, but that oath clearly means little to him as he unilaterally disregards the work of a sitting attorney general before Garland even has a chance to make his case against Trump.
The California Republican cares only about his soiled Republican Party and his ability to hold on to power, which McCarthy said he would abuse if his party gained control of the House in November and McCarthy then became House Speaker.
“I’ve seen enough,” McCarthy tweeted. “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization. When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts and leave no stone unturned. Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”
Preserve your documents like Trump did, flushing them down the potty? That would be hilarious if this whole thing weren’t deadly serious, with loyal MAGA soldiers threatening civil war.
Whether McCarthy is serious or not, we should take him at his word: If Republicans take back the House in November, McCarthy would use his office to target Garland because the attorney general’s pursuit of facts is a threat to McCarthy’s pursuit of misinformation.
Sources told McClatchy journalists that “FBI agents obtained a search warrant from a federal magistrate judge in West Palm Beach to gather dozens of boxes containing alleged classified materials that President Trump had taken with him when he left the White House in January 2021.”
For agents to gain a search warrant, they had to convince the judge of probable cause.
“We have never seen a scene like this in presidential history,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss said in a tweet on Monday.
The investigation of an ex-president is a terrible development for the country, a dark turn that is not an occasion for anyone to celebrate.
But McCarthy’s threat to go after Garland if he gains power in November is even more disturbing because it would set up the Republican House leadership as agents of Trump with the goal of using their power to protect Trump no matter the evidence against him.
This comes at the same time social scientists fear a rising tide of political violence and flagging belief in American democracy.
National Public Radio reported earlier this year that “The Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School published a poll that found half of voting age Americans under 30 thought our democracy was ‘in trouble’ or ‘failing.’ A third also said they expected there to be ‘a civil war’ within their lifetimes. And a quarter thought at least one state would secede.”
Every House race in America this fall should be viewed in this context. A vote for GOP leadership in the House would be a vote to support McCarthy’s vow to use his power to fight the rule of law and defend his choice of party over country.
McCarthy told us what he would do if he comes to power, so for the good of democracy, we must prevent that from happening.