Ahead of the midterms, right-wing media issue marching orders for potential congressional investigations
In the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections, Fox News figures, right-wing personalities, and their guests are anticipating the return of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and issuing marching orders to the potential GOP majority. Despite a history of condemning supposed “show trials” held by Democrats, conservative commentators and personalities have assembled a lengthy list of baseless grievances for potential congressional investigations, should they come to pass.
The targets of the investigations range from the Biden family to Attorney General Merrick Garland to a “general attack on liberty.” Here are some examples of figures in right-wing media calling on would-be GOP legislators to investigate their grievances:
Attorney General Merrick Garland directing the FBI to address threats made against school boards
Attorney General Merrick Garland sent a memorandum to the FBI in 2021 amidst a wave of violent threats made against school boards in reaction to COVID-19 policies, transgender issues and so-called critical race theory. A Trump-appointed judge has since dismissed a lawsuit against Garland, noting that the memorandum did “not label anyone a domestic terrorist, as the plaintiffs suggest.”
- After House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) confirmed that he would investigate Biden over his response to Russia invading Ukraine, he added to his list of grievances to investigate, “The attorney general investigating American parents who want to go to school board meetings.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 4/10/22]
- Fox host Maria Bartiromo asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) if he would depose House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi if Republicans win the majority. He responded with a list of potential Republican Congressional investigations, including COVID-19 origins, FBI school board inquiries and the border: “We need to look into the DOJ targeting moms and dads who show up at school board meetings.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 6/12/22]
- After host Sean Hannity questioned whether House Republicans would investigate Garland, McCarthy confirmed there's an agenda to investigate him: “Why did he go after these parents who were going to the school board meetings? … He utilized that [letter] to go after to hold them as terrorists.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/12/22]
- The Faulkner Focus guest Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claimed Garland “sicced the feds on parents going to school boards concerned about their kids' education,” adding, “He should resign in disgrace. If he doesn't, Joe Biden should fire him, and if he won’t then we should impeach him come January.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 7/28/22]
- Fox contributor Ben Domenech expressed his support for Garland’s impeachment due to “the steps he took against American parents, identifying them as potential domestic terrorists because of pushing back against what they saw happening in their schools.” [Fox Business, Varney and Co., 8/11/22]
- Frequent Tucker Carlson Tonight guest Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) listed the “work” Republicans need to do “when we take back the majority,” including impeaching Garland. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/18/22]
- Speaking about FBI whistleblowers alleging that the National School Board Association worked “ahead of time with the Justice Department, the White House, and the Department of Education” to target parents, Jordan said on War Room that “when it comes to looking at an impeachment inquiry, I think Merrick Garland is potentially there, I think Chris Wray.” He went on to say, “When we do our investigation,” a key question will be if the White House directed the School Boards Association “to put in the information about targeting parents and using the Patriot Act against parents.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room: Pandemic, 10/7/22]
The Biden family
Following the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop in October 2020, right-wing media jumped on the opportunity to allege the Bidens were involved in corrupt business deals, particularly in Ukraine and China.
- Fox News contributor Miranda Devine said there are “well-founded concerns” that Biden may be compromised by his family, and predicted that Republicans “will be looking into all these links between Hunter Biden, Jim Biden, Joe Biden, and the Chinese communist regime, in particular." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/5/22]
- The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld demanded Congressional hearings investigating Hunter Biden “if only for the petty revenge of wasting our time with these impeachments and with this hearing.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/6/22]
- On his radio show, Hannity instructed Jordan to investigate Hunter Biden if Republicans take control of the House: “One of the things I want looked at the most is, Joe Biden says he had no knowledge, no discussion ever with zero experience Hunter. We now know that's a complete lie and that we know that they sold access.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/19/22]
- Fox host Jesse Watters urged Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to investigate the Biden family if Republicans take control of the Senate: “You’ve got to blow these hearings up, because that's the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of this entrenched corruption and cover-up.” Cruz agreed. [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/27/22]
- Fox News guest Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) speculated that China might be holding something regarding Hunter Biden over the president and suggested that he will “investigate the wrongdoing,” despite later admitting he doesn’t have evidence of blackmail. [Fox News, America Reports, 8/2/22]
- On his radio show, Hannity warned that “when Republicans get the reins of power and all the investigative tools available to them,” the investigations will include Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter’s business dealings. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 9/12/22]
Two years after the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, right-wing media are insistent on spreading misinformation about the efficacy, safety and necessity of the shots.
- On America’s Newsroom, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) advocated for “aggressive oversight and investigations of the executive branch” regarding both Dr. Anthony Fauci “covering up the origin of the pandemic” and “the theft of hundreds of billions of dollars of unemployment and PPP dollars.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/16/22]
- Guest host Jason Chaffetz suggested that Jordan and Rep. James Comer (R-KY) will investigate Hunter Biden “if the Republicans take the House over.” Later in the segment, Chaffetz asked Comer what the Oversight Committee will be investigating other than Hunter, prompting Comer to respond with COVID-19 origins and the border. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/7/22]
- Watters suggested that a GOP-controlled House should investigate “how much money Fauci is making in royalties from vaccines.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/25/22]
- With encouragement from co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) stated his intention to investigate injuries caused by the COVID-19 vaccine. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 7/31/22]
- Pressing that Americans want an investigation into “how COVID was created” and “why vaccines were mandated,” Greene said on War Room that Fauci “doesn’t just get to step down and retire, he owes answers to the entire world.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room: Pandemic, 8/22/22]
- In a segment discussing Republicans’ vow to investigate Fauci, Watters demanded he “comply with every subpoena they slap him with. And if he doesn’t, we should shackle him.” [Fox News, The Five, 8/23/22]
Right-wing media have used the humanitarian crisis at the southern border to fearmonger about immigration for years, often invoking the racist “great replacement” theory.
- Fox host Brian Kilmeade accused DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of “[lying] through his teeth” regarding migrant processing, then called for an investigation of the Biden administration’s border enforcement “if the House flips.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/8/22]
- On his radio show, Fox host Mark Levin argued that Biden should be considered for impeachment over his immigration policy. Guest Jordan agreed and proceeded to push the “great replacement” theory: “This is not by accident. This is by design, this is premeditated, this is deliberate, what they’re doing to our border." [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 7/12/22]
- On Hannity, Cruz declared that Mayorkas’ impeachment should be a priority for a GOP-controlled House. He also called for a Senate trial to “put on the evidence of the people that are suffering and dying as a result of Joe Biden’s dereliction of duty.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/15/22]
- The Ingraham Angle guest Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) attacked how migrants are processed at the border, calling it “absurd, it’s a complete violation of our laws.” Roy added, “Secretary Mayorkas should be impeached for it and hopefully we can address that next year.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/29/22]
- On Fox & Friends, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) responded to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott busing migrants to New York City by calling for Biden’s impeachment: “The Biden administration refuses to deal with this, which is why I’ve called for Biden's impeachment alone, just on this border crisis.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/8/22]
- On War Room, Jordan accused Mayorkas of having a hand in the border crisis: “When it comes to looking at an impeachment inquiry,” Jordan said, “I think Mr. Mayorkas certainly deserves it.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room: Pandemic, 10/7/22]
January 6 and the January 6 committee
Right-wing media figures have remained in denial about the realities of the January 6 insurrection and the 2020 election results, insisting that the January 6 committee is a farce. Pundits have downplayed and used the findings of the committee to create a false narrative that the government is hunting down conservatives.
- Levin called for Republicans to launch an investigation of the January 6 committee. [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 6/07/22]
- Hannity demanded that Republicans “have to” investigate the January 6 committee during the next Congress. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/29/22]
- Levin instructed Republicans “to investigate Democrat colleagues of yours … and dig into January 6 and beyond.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 7/7/22]
- Hannity also said he would “like to investigate why the January 6 committee … only made a one-sided presentation.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/13/22]
Lack of protection of SCOTUS justices, crisis pregnancy centers
Following the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, conservative justices and crisis pregnancy centers faced backlash, prompting right-wing media to demand protection for the justices and centers.
- Former law clerk for Justice Neil Gorsuch Mike Davis called for Garland’s impeachment: “When Republicans take back control of the House in January, they need to open an impeachment inquiry on Merrick Garland.” [Fox News, America Reports, 6/24/22]
- Host Laura Ingraham accused Garland of being “wildly biased” by not condemning attacks on crisis pregnancy centers and the attempted assassination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “You're going to have a lot of Republicans who are going to want to impeach him.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/15/22]
- Hannity asserted that Garland “could be facing an impeachment probe when Republicans take over the House” if he fails to prosecute people threatening Supreme Court Justices. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/12/22]
- On Hannity’s radio show, right-wing radio host Mark Simone said, “Garland, the Attorney General, should be impeached for not protecting the Supreme Court justices.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/15/22]
After the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, right-wing media exploded with rampant lies about the reasons for the search. Accusations of a “weaponized” and “partisan” Department of Justice and “the deep state’s war” against Trump became a common refrain among right-wing media figures who refused to acknowledge the FBI investigation as legitimate.
- In response to the Mar-a-Lago search, guest and white supremacist Stephen Miller declared, “In the near term, there needs to be such a large majority elected in the House that they will have unquestioned ability to not only subpoena, but to impeach, any and every official who is involved in wrongdoing, both current and past, and to ensure that we finally uncover the truth about who was involved in each and every one of the scandals and misinformation campaigns.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/8/22]
- Levin said that in response to the Mar-a-Lago search, Republicans should impeach Biden and Garland and “we’ll look for the reasons, just like an FBI warrant.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 8/9/22]
- Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer claimed that because the Mar-a-Lago search was unprecedented, unless there is a “smoking gun,” Garland will have to “resign in disgrace or get impeached after Republicans take the Congress.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/9/22]
- Fox & Friends guest Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested Republicans would investigate Garland over abuses during the Mar-a-Lago search: “I've never been a fan of overusing impeachment, but I think there has to be an investigation. And if it warrants it, there’s going to have to be a look at whether or not the attorney general has misused his office for political purposes.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/10/22]
- Watters claimed “you couldn’t have a more disgusting little plot to hatch” about the Mar-a-Lago search. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) added, “Garland needs to go. And if he won't resign, he ought to be impeached.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/10/22]
- Davis directly called for “House Republicans in January to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray,” arguing that “they have violated their oaths” by “politicizing” and “weaponizing” the DOJ. [Real America’s Voice, War Room: Pandemic, 8/15/22]
- Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) suggested that “Mueller and his team should be under investigation” because “some of these FBI agents are involved in this latest raid on Mar-a-Lago.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/24/22]
- Rudy Giuliani said on War Room that the search is “impeachment material here, with regards to the Attorney General.” Bannon responded that “we’re gonna take the House. We’re gonna be able to impeach Garland.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room: Pandemic, 9/6/22]
- After Trump lawyers claimed that the DOJ seized 200,000 documents from Mar-a-Lago, former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn argued that “It could lead to the impeachment and removal of the President of the United States,” adding that Garland “could be looking at very serious, very serious charges in terms of impeachment and removal.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room: Pandemic, 9/30/22]
In October, Saudi Arabia said that the U.S. suggested OPEC’s decision to cut oil production be delayed by a month. Right-wing media interpreted this as an effort by the Biden administration to interfere in the midterms and as grounds for impeachment.
- Levin ordered Republicans who are “making lists of impeachable offenses” to add Biden’s energy policy with the Saudis because he is “trying to help his party in the midterm elections.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 10/12/22]
- Watters deemed Biden petitioning the Saudi government to delay oil supply decreases “ten times worse” than Trump withholding aid from Ukraine. The host asked, “Where are all the Democrats calling for impeachment?” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 10/12/22]
- Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway said if Democrats are going “to be consistent,” Biden should “should be impeached and he obviously should be immediately convicted.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 10/13/22]
- After declaring that Biden “should be impeached,” Gutfeld emphasized that Republicans “don’t like exploiting processes for … darkness.” [Fox News, The Five, 10/14/22]
- Former spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Morgan Ortagus said Biden “needs to be investigated by the new Republican Congress” because his actions with the Saudis constitute “election interference.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 10/19/22]
Russia probe origins
Since the conclusion of the Mueller probe in 2019, right-wing media have been calling for retaliatory investigations into the origins of the probe. The frequency of these demands have only increased in the last year as Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation yields acquittal after acquittal.
- Nunes said that Congress must create a commission to investigate “all the malfeasance of the FBI” should Republicans retake control of Congress. Later, Comer – who would oversee a GOP House Oversight Committee – said he would consider establishing such a commission. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 10/16/22]
- Hannity guest Johnson promised if he wins his November 2022 Senate race, he will “get to the bottom” of FBI corruption supposedly framing Trump for collusion with Russia. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/18/22]
- After guest Andy McCarthy suggested that the Durham investigation’s recent failures in court mean the end of “prosecution” in the origins of the Russia probe, anchor Dana Perino asked if House Republicans “will at least maybe ask the FBI to come and explain itself?” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 10/19/22]
Social media response to Hunter Biden’s laptop
Twitter and Facebook limited circulation of the New York Post’s initial Hunter Biden laptop story due to concerns over misinformation ahead of the 2020 election. Right-wing media alleged a cover-up by Big Tech to help the Biden campaign.
- The Faulkner Focus guest Mercedes Schlapp complained of a Big Tech coverup of the Hunter Biden laptop story: “It really comes across being a coordinated effort by Big Tech and by the media to suppress information.” She then wondered if “Congress even investigate some of these media companies for basically not reporting the truth.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 3/18/22]
- Fox & Friends Sunday guest Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) promised that the “Judiciary committee and other committees of Congress” will investigate “thoroughly” Big Tech’s supposed suppression of the New York Post. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 3/27/22]
- Hannity hosted David Bossie, president of Citizens United and executive producer of the election denial documentary “Rigged,” who urged House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to investigate the censorship of Hunter’s laptop by Big Tech. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/31/22]
- Chaffetz demanded to know what Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) will do about the supposed suppression of the Hunter laptop story as a member of the House Judiciary committee. Biggs supplied that the Judiciary and Oversight committees will have to investigate the FBI. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/26/22]
- Kilmeade questioned guest Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) if he would prioritize investigating the “conspiracy” between Democrats, the FBI, and Facebook to cover up Hunter Biden’s laptop. Crenshaw replied: “Absolutely.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/29/22]
Student debt relief
President Biden announced his plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for low-income borrowers on August 24, 2022, and right-wing media quickly labeled the proposal a hand-out that would worsen inflation and bankrupt taxpayers.
- Levin complained “I don’t know why” Biden has not been investigated for impeachment due to student debt forgiveness. [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 8/24/22]
- Levin also claimed that because Biden knows his student debt relief plan is “half a trillion dollars of constitutional violations,” there should be considerations of impeachment or grand juries. [Fox News, Life, Liberty, & Levin, 8/28/22]
- Hannity gave Republicans a list of Fox News grievances to investigate if they win the House, including “Joe Biden acting unconstitutionally with his student loan forgiveness program.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/17/22]
Summer 2020 protests
Thousands of Americans peacefully protested against police violence after police murdered George Floyd in May 2020. In response, right-wing media framed the protests as “riots” and disproportionately covered violent incidents.
- During a lengthy segment condemning the protests, Hannity attacked Vice President Kamala Harris and asked, “Where’s the committee investigating her support, her comments of the riots, the insurrection in the summer of 2020?” Later, he accused Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of “directly threatening Gorsuch, Kavanaugh,” and lamented the lack of investigation into Schumer’s “release the whirlwind” statement. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/21/22]
- Hannity also criticized the protests and asked Jordan, “Where's that committee investigating those riots by left-wing groups?” Jordan echoed his sentiment, adding that American families “are going to remember that when they go to vote.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/29/22]
- Ingraham asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to outline Republicans’ plan if they flip the Senate. Rubio responded by calling for Congressional hearings to find out “who was behind” the protests. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 10/24/22]
Impeachments and beyond
Right-wing personalities called for investigations into and often impeachment of Democratic political figures for a host of vague or miniscule grievances.
- On his radio show, Levin said, “Damn it, it’s time to have articles of impeachment against this president.” He listed the “real reasons” as Biden’s “failure to enforce immigration laws, his failure to enforce Title IX … his failure to follow the 1953 and 1958 oil land laws.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 7/1/22]
- Hannity deputized Jordan to launch investigations if Republicans take back the House. Jordan then listed everything Republicans will investigate if they take back the House, including FBI school board threats, the border, COVID origins and “this general attack on liberty.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/19/22]
- Ingraham asked Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) whether he would launch an investigation into credit card companies tracking gun sales “if you all take back the House.” Steube said a Republican House will “absolutely be issuing subpoenas” to the FBI, DOJ and Democratic congresspeople who advocated for the measure. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 9/12/22]
- Hannity guest Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) warned that he is “going to play a critical role as a top member of the House Judiciary committee where we're going to be driving a lot of oversight and potentially even impeachment.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/23/22]
- Bartiromo hosted Jordan to preview investigations that Republicans look to hold, promising that his committee will look at “the impeachment question.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 10/9/22]