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Durham hearing continues a week of whiffs for the GOP

The hearing with the former special counsel placed the Republicans’ angst in focus after their dream of a DOJ attack dog against Hunter Biden evaporated.


It’s been a bad week for Republicans who may have been pining for some action or evidence out of the Justice Department that could support conspiratorial claims they’ve made about their political foes. 

The bad news kicked off Tuesday, when reports emerged that President Joe Biden’s son Hunter will likely avoid jail time in an expected plea deal. I wrote a bit about the GOP’s deflated reactions, which come as Republicans are trying to stick baseless allegations of corruption to the Biden family. (You can read that post here.) And Wednesday’s House hearing with former special counsel John Durham, who investigated the DOJ’s Trump-Russia investigation, brought even more right-wing hysterics.

With both Hunter Biden and Durham, Republicans had dreams of the DOJ being an attack dog against their political enemies. And both dreams have gone up in flames. 

That explains why Durham took a beating from both Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday. 

Several Democrats appeared to relish the opportunity to mock Durham in person over a yearslong investigation — one marred by allegations of politicization — that ultimately netted no convictions. Some of the most scathing rebukes of Durham’s investigative work, and GOP claims that it proved there was a conspiracy to harm Trump, came from Reps. Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell and Ted Lieu, all of California, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state. 

Durham also faced varying degrees of heat from Republicans upset over his investigation’s failure to secure a conviction or affirm former President Donald Trump’s most conspiratorial claims about government officials being out to get him. This anger — in a chaotic spectacle overseen by the House Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio — ranged from relatively lukewarm to white-hot.

For example, Trump-loving Rep. Wesley Hunt of Texas bemoaned that the special counsel wasn’t able to send anyone to jail. Hunt conflated Durham’s investigation and the various criminal investigations into Trump, saying the lack of jail time in the former is an indicator of America’s “two-tiered justice system.” That phrase, which Republicans have also used with Hunter Biden’s case, appears to be the GOP’s focus group-tested complaint.

And then there was Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was incapable of hiding his contempt. The Florida Republican baselessly claimed that Durham — who was hired by a Trump-appointed attorney general, Bill Barr — was “part of the cover-up.” And the two men got into this fiery back-and-forth

It’s clearly been a tense week for Republicans hoping to bring the weight of the government upon their enemies. Spare a thought or prayer for them, if you wish. Unfortunately, I’m all out.