The newly established House committee to investigate the "weaponization of government" will waste no time before flexing its subpoena power, as Republican members prepare to tackle an ambitious oversight agenda on matters that Democrats failed to address when they were in the majority.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) says the committee, officially dubbed the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, is composed of members who know how to "dig," and they are hungry for answers after having their requests for documents and witnesses ignored when they were in the minority. Though the committee was established just a week ago, its first actions were on matters Stefanik and her colleagues have had their sights on for years. Stefanik says it’s time for answers.
"Time is of the essence, we understand that," Stefanik told the Washington Free Beacon. "Almost all these document requests have already been issued. There is a process, and we will follow that process, but we will leave no stone unturned."
Stefanik, now the fourth-ranking House Republican, saw her star rise in the party after demonstrating effective cross-examination of witnesses during impeachment hearings in 2019. The Republican defense of President Donald Trump was credited with unifying the party, showcasing Stefanik, a New York moderate, working well alongside outspoken Freedom Caucus members such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio). The two will join forces again on the Weaponization Committee, and Stefanik is excited at the prospect.
"I will tell you, working with Jim Jordan in the past, we know how to dig, dig, dig, how to follow and pull these threads," Stefanik said. "I’m really looking forward to continuing that in this important committee. This committee is going to be some of the most important work of this majority."
Armed with subpoena power that comes with the gavel, the committee is letting witnesses know that ignoring it won’t be an option.
Jordan, the committee’s chairman, on Friday issued letters to five subjects and indicated that subpoenas will follow if respondents are unresponsive. Witnesses called to testify include Nina Jankowicz, the TikTok star who was slated to head a "disinformation" board for the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security. Jankowicz was first asked to testify in May 2021 but was unresponsive.
Two other individuals in the committee’s sights, Dr. Viola Garcia and Chip Slaven, were first called in November 2021 due to their involvement in the government’s decision to treat parents at school board meetings as domestic terrorists. Neither recognized receipt of the request.
Stefanik says the committee’s focus will be wide-ranging. In recognition of that fact, leadership increased the number of Republicans on the committee from 9 to 12. Other members include Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who led Republican oversight efforts during the Obama administration.
Stefanik's position on the Weaponization Committee, which is sure to win the political spotlight as it probes issues such as corruption at the FBI, will be an opportunity to showcase the oversight prowess that won her support from colleagues.
"My questions were very fact-based, they were very professional, they were the type of oversight the American people deserve, and it caused a meltdown for Democrats and the far left," she said. "I wear it as a badge of honor that I asked some of the most effective, important questions in those impeachment hearings."
Stefanik’s role in oversight also established her as a target of the media. The Associated Press during the impeachment hearings questioned why such a low-ranking Republican was given a starring role in the Republican defense of Trump and suggested she was given the spotlight because she is a woman.
"It was no accident that the GOP featured Stefanik—who looks even younger than her age and is one of only 13 Republican women in the entire House—so prominently," the wire service wrote, quoting a Democratic member saying she was given the leading role only because "it’s a better look" to have a woman cross-examine witnesses.
Stefanik said the treatment was no surprise and that the "mainstream media is terrified of effective conservative women."
"It’s become a topic of conversation among Republican women in Congress about how the media just does not want to acknowledge success," Stefanik said. "They want women to fit in a box and only be in elected leadership on the Democrat side."
She’s hopeful other Republican women on the committee, such as Reps. Kat Cammack (R., Fla.) and Harriet Hagemen (R., Wyo.), will show that they can be effective in the spotlight as well.
"They’re on this committee for a reason, and it’s because they’re going to work and focus on standing up for the American people and holding these departments accountable," Stefanik said.