GOP senators perform for their Fox News soundbite as they attack attorney General Garland in Judiciary Committee meeting

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Attorney General Merrick Garland faced the Senate Judiciary Committee today as part of the normal congressional oversight process and the proceedings managed to demonstrate exactly how broken our partisan political system has become.

The minority Republicans used the hearings as a platform to assault the attorney general with partisan attacks, raising their latest talking points in order to guarantee a mention on Fox News or other right-wing media outlets while condemning the Biden administration on any front they could.

GOP Ranking Member Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) got the first shot at questioning Attorney General Garland and the octogenarian lawmaker seemed to be displaying a mental confusion far beyond any lapses displayed by Joe Biden, despite the constant right-wing sniping about the president’s supposed slide into senility.

Here’s a look at some of the video excerpts of the hearing, providentially provided by journalist Aaron Rupar of the Public Notice Substack newsletter.

Senator Grassley’s intent to shape his time questioning the attorney general as a partisan exercise was apparent the minute he brought up Hunter Biden.

Perhaps Senator Grassley just needs a bit more restorative beauty rest the night before a major hearing at his advanced age, but luckily another Republican senator was ready to take up the battle with their own set of accusatory questions.

Cue Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Graham may have thought he was questioning the head of the Homeland Security Department instead of the leader of the Justice Department, but Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) ventured into territory that might more properly be directed at the Department of Education.

Add your name to demand Trump be forced to testify for January 6th committee!!

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) used his time to push Garland to investigate Dr. Anthony Fauci for the latest right-wing conspiracy theories surrounding the top federal immunologist’s previous testimony to Congress, something he didn’t think to request for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh whose own testimony during his confirmation hearing included many suspect denials of past his behavior.

Cotton was apparently intent on making a spectacle of his performance at the hearing.

Senator Cotton’s calls for Attorney General Garland’s resignation will surely earn him a treasured spot in primetime on Fox News, so he felt no need to attend the rest of the committee’s hearing to see what else the attorney general had to say.

Senator John Kennedy was the next Republican to try to use a Justice Department memo about the recent invasion of school board meetings by crisis actors threatening violence against elected officials as a cudgel against Garland.

The difference in tone between the Republican and Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee is remarkable.

Even when a Biden administration official does exactly what the GOP Senators have urged him to do, it apparently isn’t enough, as Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) demonstrated.

Seeing the success that Senator Cotton’s questioning of the attorney general was having in raising his media profile, Senator Marsha Blackburn tried to earn her own time in the spotlight with a comment about Garland’s supposed politicization of the Justice Department. One must wonder where these Republican Senators were hiding when Trump Attorney General William Barr was issuing misleading summaries of the Mueller report distorting its findings to the political benefit of his then-boss and destroying the Justice Department’s legacy of independence from the presidency.

Rupar somehow managed to monitor both the hearing and the Fox News coverage of it at the same time, allowing him to demonstrate how the new outlet operates in lockstep with the GOP.

While the propaganda machine continued to churn out misleading coverage of the hearing, the GOP Senators continued their questioning. Next up were Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who weren’t going to let any accusations of complicity in the January 6th insurrection, stop them from pushing their partisan agendas.

After Senator Cotton called for Garland’s resignation, surely Hawley had to at least equal him in his level of performative outrage.

We’re not sure who Ted Cruz’s political advisor is these days, but someone should tell him that if he wants to appeal to voters outside the neo-Nazi coalition that perhaps he shouldn’t be defending fascist salutes.

After all the Republicans bleating about the FBI targeting parents outraged by right-wing propaganda over critical race theory, Senator Cory Booker tried to bring the hearing back to reality.

If Garland thought he was through facing the hostility of the GOP members of the Judiciary Committee, he was sadly mistaken.

Ted Cruz was somehow allowed another chance to attack the attorney general, this time using COVID misinformation rather than local school board disputes as his avenue.

Other GOP committee members also got a second shot.

The Committee adjourned for the day shortly afterward, after completely exposing the level of dysfunction in America’s two-party political system.

Nothing was truly accomplished besides allowing Republican senators to burnish their Fox News marketing credentials and help their fundraising profiles for their next elections.

Meanwhile, the larger questions for Attorney General Garland — namely when he will indict former President Donald Trump for his many demonstrable and prosecutable federal crimes — remain unanswered.

Thanks to Aaron Rupar for his diligent coverage of the Judiciary Committee hearing today. Please consider supporting his valuable work by subscribing to his Public Notice Substack newsletter which you can find here.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter. 

Original reporting by Aaron Rupar at Public Notice.

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