The top Democrat on the House Weaponization Subcommittee said there is a "difference" between "legitimate oversight and weaponization of Congress," slamming the GOP-created committee as one that will be used to "showcase conspiracy theories and advance an extreme agenda."

The subcommittee’s first hearing featured two panels of witnesses to present testimony and illustrate how the Department of Justice has allegedly compromised American civil liberties.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., opened the panel’s first hearing with a warning to Republicans on the committee.


democrat weaponization

The subcommittee’s first hearing featured two panels of witnesses to present testimony and illustrate how the Justice Department has allegedly attacked American civil liberties. ((Tom Williams/Pool via AP, File))

"Nobody disputed the important role of congressional oversight. I know firsthand how important it is to ask questions and demand answers of the federal government," Plaskett said. "Congressional oversight can serve to protect the integrity of our Republic."

"But there is a difference, my colleagues, between legitimate oversight and weaponization of Congress and our processes, particularly our committee work, as a political tool," she said.

Jim Jordan

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Plaskett, who served as an impeachment manager in the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump, said she is "deeply concerned" that the Weaponization Subcommittee will be used "as a place to settle scores, showcase conspiracy theories and advance an extreme agenda that risk undermining Americans’ faith in our democracy."

The first panel included testimony from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. The two senators have teamed together in high-profile investigations involving the FBI, the Department of Justice, Hunter Biden, Big Tech and more.

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who has been critical of the government for activities that have allegedly undermined freedom of speech, joined Johnson and Grassley on the first panel.

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 file photo, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee markup meeting on Capitol Hill, in Washington. Senate Republicans are bringing in Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to handle questioning about Christine Blasey Ford's allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. A news release from Grassley's office describes Mitchell as "a career prosecutor with decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes." (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The first panel included testimony from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.  (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The second panel is set to feature George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who focused on censorship in the United States; former FBI agent Thomas Baker, who will speak to the need for an independent bureau; and former FBI agent Nicole Parker, who left the bureau after believing it had become weaponized for political purposes.


Plaskett, ahead of witness testimony, blasted their experience, saying that the witnesses "would have us believe that the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are part of a deep state cabal."

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

"The Department of Justice and the FBI do not always get it right—history is full of examples of these agencies getting it very, very wrong," she said. "But in our current climate, with domestic terrorism on the rise and hate speech normalized by national politicians, the Department of Justice and the FBI are doing their best to protect us from sliding into chaos."

Plaskett said that she and Democrats on the committee "will resist any attempt by this subcommittee to derail ongoing legitimate investigations into President Trump" and others within his orbit.

Plaskett said that Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Republicans "continually use the moniker of protecting free speech."

Plaskett’s opening statement came after Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and the Weaponization Subcommittee, delivered his opening statement, detailing the dozens of FBI whistleblowers who have come to him and to congressional Republicans to report politicization within the bureau. 

Tulsi Gabbard

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. (Photo by Drew Angerer)

"Americans have concerns about the double standard at the Department of Justice. Americans have concerns about the disinformation governance board that the Department of Homeland Security tried to form. Americans have concerns about the ATF and what they're doing to the Second Amendment, and, of course, they have concerns about the IRS and the thousands of new agents who are coming to that organization," Jordan said in his opening statement. 


"And finally, there are concerns about what we've learned in the Twitter files where big government, Big Tech colluded to shape and mold the narrative and to suppress information and censor Americans."

Jordan said the committee will hear from government officials, experts, Americans who have been "targeted" by government, the media, and FBI agents who have come forward as whistleblowers. "We expect to bring forward legislation that will help protect the American people," Jordan said, adding that Republicans "hope our Democratic colleagues will work with us.

"We want to work with them. Protecting the First Amendment shouldn't be partisan--protecting the Constitution shouldn't be partisan, and protecting the fundamental principle of equal treatment under the law should not be partisan," Jordan said.

The panel is expected to investigate not only how the executive branch has gathered information on citizens but how it has worked with other bodies, including private sector companies, to "facilitate action against American citizens."