GOP 'weaponization' committee has dark origins — and a dark purpose: columnist
Jim Jordan (Photo via Shutterstock)

House Republicans have already kicked off the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, holding its first hearing and pushing the idea that Donald Trump has been unfairly targeted by the FBI and Justice Department.

On Tuesday, writing for Slate, Donald Moynihan probed the origins of Republicans' "weaponization of government" trope — and the purpose behind it.

"You probably have not heard of the Center for Renewing America, but it offers an important insight into both the origins and meaning of the weaponization trope," wrote Moynihan. "The Center for Renewing America is a Trump aligned think-tank. As best as I can tell, the center promoted the idea of a weaponization committee in the form it has now taken before anyone else. Last October, characterizing the idea as a 'Church-style' committee, the center stated: 'we call on Members of Congress to assemble a stand-alone committee with broad investigative powers focused on woke and weaponized agencies and personnel within the federal government.'" After this proclamation, Republicans like McCarthy began to use the term "weaponized" continually.

The think tank is run by Russ Vought, a "Christian nationalist" who previously worked in Trump's budget office — in fact, noted Moynihan, he was a key architect of several schemes to weaponize government himself: stripping merit-based civil service protections from government workers, illegally blocking aid to Ukraine, and even prohibiting Trump staffers from assisting the Biden presidential transition.

IN OTHER NEWS: Fireworks erupt as Ted Cruz lashes out at Biden nominee for referring to Fox News as propaganda

Now, wrote Moynihan, "Vought characterized legitimate uses of government power as 'weaponization,' such as when the FBI searched, under court order, the home of a key player in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Vought is now building an 'army' of far right ideologues with a 'biblical worldview' to take control of federal agencies when a Republican administration returns to power."

The "weaponization" concept, wrote Moynihan, is a rhetorical tool Republicans use to cast themselves as the victims, and pre-emptively delegitimize any law enforcement action that might be taken against them in the court of public opinion. The goal, he argued, is to make all manner of public servants scared to do their jobs when it might involve action against a Republican figure. Moreover, he said, Vought is pushing a budget blueprint that would effectively destroy the government and "rebuild it from the ashes" — for the sake of purging the "weaponizers" who enforce the law against Republicans.

"Vought reflects the emerging view on the far-right that the era small government conservatism is over: instead hard-right populists feel that they should actively take control of government to pursue their goals," concluded Moynihan.