Tulsi Gabbard and 2 GOP senators among those testifying at GOP-led subcommittee’s first hearing
By Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer and Tierney Sneed, CNN
The GOP-led House select subcommittee on so-called weaponization of the federal government will draw upon a prominent ex-Democrat, two of their Republican Senate colleagues, and a former FBI agent in their first public hearing to discuss how they believe the government has been weaponized against conservatives, multiple sources familiar with the plans tell CNN.
GOP Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, as well as former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a fixture on Fox News, and former FBI special agent Nicole Parker, will be among the first witnesses called by the GOP, in a sign that Republicans on the committee will push a partisan, right-wing viewpoint on the alleged weaponization of the federal government. The Democrats are also expected to call their own witnesses but it remains unclear who those will be, one of the sources said.
Gabbard, a former Democrat, has regularly appeared on Fox News since leaving Congress and regularly used that platform to accuse the FBI and the Justice Department of targeting political opponents of the Biden administration. She has criticized the FBI on a variety of fronts, including its interactions with social media companies like Twitter, the bureau’s role in the Russia investigation and the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence — all issues Republicans on the GOP-led select subcommittee have said they want to investigate.
Parker, a former FBI special agent in charge, wrote an op-ed last month detailing how she left the bureau after over 10 years of service because she believed it had became “politically weaponized.”
The FBI has repeatedly pushed back on such claims.
Grassley and Johnson have both previously attacked the Justice Department for how it has handled its investigation into Hunter Biden, including with allegations that the FBI sought to “downplay derogatory information on Hunter Biden for the purpose of shutting down investigative activity.”
Grassley also has criticized the Justice Department’s approach to addressing threats against school administrators. He and other Republicans have singled out a memo Attorney General Merrick Garland issued in 2021 vowing to prosecute those who violate the law by harassing or threatening school officials.
Grassley and other conservatives have accused the DOJ of seeking to criminalize the First Amendment right of parents to protest school policies. The Justice Department has denied doing so, pointing to a line in the memo acknowledging that “spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution.”
Grassley spokesperson Taylor Foy said in a statement to CNN, “Sen. Grassley has been very outspoken in the past few years about concerns with the abuses of power and lack of accountability in government,” adding “he’s looking forward to discussing his oversight work, which can serve as a road map for House members who share these concerns.”
Johnson “looks forward to providing his testimony and perspective before the House Select Committee,” his deputy communications director, Corinne Day, said in part in a statement to CNN.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.