The consequences of Jim Jordan’s attack on the FBI go far beyond our security

The GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee was supposed to hold an FBI oversight hearing on Wednesday. Instead, its chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and what I call his cadre of conspiracists looked more like a kangaroo court putting the entire FBI on trial. Bureau Director Christopher Wray did his best to professionally parry a barrage of unsubstantiated accusations and spurious attacks, but his inquisitors were more interested in spouting fiction than hearing facts. It’s tempting to refer to Wednesday’s debacle as mere political theatrics, but that would belie the grave threat underlying the GOP’s intentions.

The Jordan-led assault on the nation’s premier security agency appeared to be a very public extension of a broader campaign to diminish Americans’ trust in their key institutions. Their strategy seems to be working. This month, an NBC poll found that only 37% of registered voters held a positive view of the FBI, a perception that has been in steady decline since late 2018, when 52% had a favorable opinion. This erosion of trust coincides with Donald Trump spending much of his tenure as president, and now his post-presidency, promoting false theories, bashing the agency that’s investigating him and undermining other institutions he views as a threat. Notably, the poll shows 17% of Republican voters held a positive view of the FBI, compared to 58% of Democrats.