June 16, 2024

Mike Johnson courts bipartisan controversy with Intelligence Committee picks

During his tenure as House speaker, Mike Johnson (R-LA) has drawn the ire of colleagues all along the political spectrum, but one of his latest decisions has caused particular consternation of a bipartisan nature.

As Axios reports, Speaker Johnson is facing backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle over his decision to go out on something of a limb and appoint two allies of former President Donald Trump to the House Intelligence Committee.

Controversial picks spark uproar

Johnson's choice of Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Ronny Jackson (R-TX) to sit on the powerful panel has prompted an outcry of concern about the survival of what critics say is a precarious consensus that was painstakingly achieved after Trump left office.

The congressmen were selected to step into the shoes of former Congressmen Chris Stewart of Utah and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, both of whom vacated their seats before the end of their respective terms.

As NBC News notes, Perry once led the House Freedom Caucus, known by some for its efforts to aid Trump in his efforts to question the validity of the 2020 election results.

Perry's phone was seized by the FBI two years ago, and he was the subject of a judge's order to disclose cell phone records and other documents in a federal probe of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol unrest.

Jackson has been no stranger to controversy himself, having reportedly been demoted from his role as White House physician under multiple administrations due to what was said to constitute “inappropriate conduct” involving the use of Ambien and allegations that he mistreated lower-ranking staffers.

Lawmakers voice concern

It was not long before Johnson's picks spurred vocal opposition, with Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) writing to the speaker to request him to reverse course on Perry and Jackson.

According to an unnamed Democrat in the House, members of the Intel panel were initially “shocked” by the speaker's move but are now “angry” about the “reckless” appointments to a committee in which highly sensitive information is routinely accessed and disseminated.

A Republican lawmaker also expressed reservations about the situation, saying that with regard to Perry's ascension to the committee, “Part of the problem is it is rewarding bad behavior.”

Johnson stands firm

Despite the uproar that followed his announcement of the committee's newest members, Johnson has stood firm in his decision.

Johnson spokesperson Tylor Hauslee explained, “Speaker Johnson has the utmost confidence in Congressmen Perry and Jackson to capably serve the American people on the Intelligence Committee,” and whether that faith proves to have been well-placed, only time will tell.

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