Jim Jordan is inadvertently discrediting his own case against the FBI

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It was roughly nine months ago when Rep. Jim Jordan began his offensive against federal law enforcement in earnest. The Ohio Republican claimed last August that he had secret sources inside the FBI, who, as luck would have it, privately assured the far-right congressman that his conspiracy theories have merit.

I have tried to keep an open mind about this, but Jordan hasn’t exactly made it easy.

In November, the GOP lawmaker released a report on the FBI’s alleged “politicization,” which was so pitiful that it quickly became the subject of ridicule. Republican leaders nevertheless rewarded Jordan for his failure, making him the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and putting him in charge of a new panel with a specific purpose: finding evidence of the government being “weaponized” against conservatives.

As regular readers know, the panel’s first big anti-FBI hearing was an embarrassing display, and it was soon followed by revelations that the FBI “whistleblowers” the Ohio Republican has been touting for months weren’t actually whistleblowers, and their recent behind-the-scenes testimony was literally unbelievable.

As a Washington Post report noted, yesterday’s hearing was no better.

[T]he hearing … focused on claims of FBI abuses of power and featured witnesses who alleged retaliation for raising red flags. Democrats have pointed to conspiratorial comments by the witnesses and their ties to a key ally of former president Donald Trump, Kash Patel, to cast doubt on their claimed whistleblower statuses. We learned Wednesday that the FBI recently stripped two of the witnesses of their security clearances, citing wrongdoing.

If the proceedings were intended to embarrass the bureau, they backfired, painting the FBI’s accusers and their allies in an unflattering light. Jordan hid transcripts from committee members, downplayed the fact that some of his witnesses have been paid by a member of Donald Trump’s team, and pretended his so-called “whistleblowers” don’t have serious credibility problems.

What we were left with was a congressional hearing about a few FBI agents who don’t like the fact that they were punished for alleged misconduct. As former Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger joked soon after, the hearing was little more than “a public airing of an HR complaint.”

Jordan and his conspiratorial panel have confronted criticisms in recent months from disappointed GOP insiders, Republican-aligned media, and influential leaders from the conservative movement, each of whom expected the Ohioan to deliver real results. He’s failing spectacularly.

A Politico report last month quoted a GOP aide who conceded that on Capitol Hill, Republicans agree that Jordan’s “weaponization” panel was off to a “rocky start.” That reputation did not improve yesterday.

But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: Jordan isn’t just humiliating himself, he’s also inadvertently proving the opposite of his intended point. The Republican and his team have spent nine months desperately trying to find evidence of the FBI becoming corrupted and politicized. What he’s proven, however, is that he hasn’t found anything meaningful, despite his best efforts, reinforcing suspicions that there just isn’t evidence to find.

By trying and failing to make a case against the bureau, Jordan is effectively giving the FBI a clean bill of political health.

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”

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