Two organizations trying to shield the Biden administration from congressional oversight risk running afoul of the law by obstructing hearings and intimidating witnesses, according to a conservative legal group calling for an investigation and — if warranted — arrests.
After Republicans recaptured the House in November, the Congressional Integrity Project — backed by an arm of the liberal dark money funder Arabella Advisors — and Facts First USA (run by Democratic operative David Brock) have blasted GOP House members that will be leading oversight matters, chiefly House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio.
An October memo from Brock called for “direct attacks,” “an environment of backlash,” and “maximum pushback” politically speaking, against Republican lawmakers.
America First Legal warns this could lead to obstruction of congressional hearings, harassing members of Congress and intimidation of both witnesses and whistleblowers — reminiscent of liberal protesters who followed and taunted Republican senators during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
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“Mr. Brock’s plan is simplistically derivative,” says Reed D. Rubinstein, director of investigations for America First Legal Foundation (AFL) in a March 16 letter to the House Sergeant at Arms William McFarland. “But in 2018 (for example), similar tactics were employed against Congressional staff and members to influence, obstruct, and impede Congressional hearings regarding Brett Kavanaugh. Therefore, there is ample reason to take seriously the promises made by Mr. Brock and his dark money affiliates of ‘direct attacks,’ ‘backlash,’ and coordinated ‘maximum pushback’ against members, staff, and witnesses.”
The AFL letter chiefly focuses on the words of Brock, the leader of Facts First USA. But the top of the letter says the subject matter is about potential violations by both Facts First USA and the Congressional Integrity Project of 18 U.S.C. § 1505, which is in the U.S. Code as “obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies and committees.”
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“Here, congressional oversight of Mr. Brock and his dark money network may also be appropriate to expose the breadth of and funding sources for the planned interference, obstruction, or disruption of House oversight activities,” Rubinstein’s letter continued.
“But as sergeant of arms, you have the power to make arrests and enforce the laws of the United States within the geographical area containing all House members, their staff, and committee hearing rooms,” the letter adds. “Federal law grants you the same law enforcement authority as a member of the Capitol Police. Intimidation of congressional witnesses or whistleblowers, obstructing official congressional investigations, or otherwise interfering with constitutional obligations and rights are all crimes within your purview.”
Facts First USA referred Fox News Digital to its own March 17 letter to McFarland, the House sergeant at arms, and noted it is an entirely separate entity from the Congressional Integrity Project.
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“That AFL is acting at the behest of House Republicans is really the only way to make sense of an organization that otherwise contends that it is ‘committed to an unwavering defense of… freedom of speech’ seeking to have us investigated for our speech. And, it does help explain why AFL would turn to the sergeant at arms of the House of Representatives to conduct such a review,” says the letter signed by co-chairs David Jolly, a former GOP House member from Florida, and Maria Cardona, a former TV anchor.
The letter went on to allege that AFL President Steven Miller’s one time boss — former President Donald Trump — engaged in witness intimidation in the past.
“In any event, we are delighted that Mr. Miller and his colleagues believe so strongly that witnesses tampering and intimidation warrant criminal investigation and charges — though this view appears to be newfound given their personal history with alleged interference of Congressional investigations,” the letter continued.
Brock, a former conservative writer-turned-Democrat operative, founded the liberal Media Matters for America and the American Bridge 21st Century super PAC. He founded Facts First USA in 2022 ahead of the midterm election, when it was widely anticipated Republicans would win at least one chamber of Congress in that year’s midterms.
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The 15-page Brock memo on Oct. 25, two weeks before the election, described the plans for Fact First, with a tone the AFL argued suggests disruption of Congress. The Brock memo calls for “coordinating among like-minded groups for maximum pushback and consistent messaging.”
The memo also defends Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden under investigation by the Justice Department on financial matters, and by the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.
“Hunter Biden has been unable to mount any public defense of his actions. That has allowed a one-sided narrative to become more mainstream, even among Democrats who do not know the facts,” the Brock memo says. “That will need to be ferociously countered — both with pointed responses and direct attacks against the congressional inquisitors.”
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The memo adds: “We will create an environment of backlash against the Republicans so that the 2024 elections can be decided on the merits.”
The Congressional Integrity Project has reportedly gotten about $1.5 million in donations from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a nonprofit that is fiscally sponsored by Arabella Advisors, a liberal dark money outfit. The CIP did not respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital for this story.