The week began with news of violence in Brazil, an attempted uprising that echoed America’s own Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. An uprising in the capital of Brasilia Sunday came in response to false claims of election fraud by former President Jair Bolsonaro.
Back in the U.S., lawmakers this week called for an investigation and reforms following a Federal Aviation Administration computer outage that led to thousands of cancelled flights Wednesday. It’s one of several matters Republican House members have their sights set on investigating now that members are sworn in and able to work.
Over in the White House, President Joe Biden is facing scrutiny over batches of classified documents found in his private office and most recently, the garage of his Delaware home. The story may sound familiar, as former President Donald Trump has been under months-long investigation for his own mishandling of classified documents. There are parallels but also key differences between the two situations.
What happened this week in politics?
The president and classified documents, the sequel
On Thursday, the White House confirmed the discovery of more classified documents in President Biden’s Delaware home garage. This came days after the news of a first batch, found in Biden’s private office, was revealed.
Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary committee, and Rep. Mike Johnson announced Friday afternoon an investigation, specifically of Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice. On Thursday, Garland named Robert Hur, former top attorney in Maryland, as special prosecutor in the matter.
Hur’s role and appointment echoes that of special counsel Jack Smith, who Garland named back in November to lead investigations into Trump, including the former president’s handling of hundreds of classified documents. The news this week could become a political liability for Biden, who previously criticized Trump for being “irresponsible.”
There are facts that distinguish Biden’s situation from Trump’s, such as the current president’s cooperation with the Justice Department and his smaller quantity compared to the number of documents kept by Trump.
Brazil riots in the wake of Jan. 6
Protestors in Brazil stormed capital buildings Sunday, in response to false claims by President Jair Bolsonaro that he had lost his bid for reelection due to electronic voting machine error. Bolsonaro is a longtime ally of Trump, who likewise endorsed meritless theories of election fraud after losing reelection and has been blamed for inciting violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Among those pointing the finger at Trump is the attorney for Proud Boys leader, Enrique Tarrio, who is on trial for seditious conspiracy related to Jan. 6, alongside four other leaders from the far-right extremist group.
“Too hard to blame Trump, too hard to bring him to the witness stand with his army of lawyers … Instead they go for the easy target,” said Sabino Jauregui, Tarrio’s attorney.
Rules and investigations in the House
While the Senate is still out until Jan. 23, House lawmakers were finally able to get to work after 15 rounds of speaker votes took all of last week. Members, sworn in during the early hours of last Saturday, returned to the chamber Monday to approve a House rules package by a vote of 220-213.
Republicans from the House majority announced Tuesday they have established two panels, one to investigate the Biden administration and executive branch, the second focused on America’s competitiveness with China. The GOP is also promising investigations by the House Oversight committee into COVID-19 relief spending, the southern border and the Biden family, among other matters.
The latest on George Santos
The freshman representative from Long Island, New York faces mounting questions about his campaign finances. This is after weeks of controversy around George Santos over lies about his resume and personal background. Two House Democrats, along with a nonpartisan watchdog group have each filed complaints about Santos’s finances. GOP leaders from Nassau County in Santos’s home district added to those calling for his resignation, saying “We do not consider him one of our congresspeople.”
In a tweet Wednesday, Santos said he “was elected to serve the people of #NY03” and “will NOT resign!” He followed this Thursday by telling Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, guest host on Steve Bannon’s podcast War Room, that he will not answer to “politicians and party leaders.”
“I was elected by 142,000 people. Until those same 142,000 people tell me they don’t me, we’ll find out in two years,” Santos said.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., expressed similar sentiments when asked about the Republican freshman during a press conference Thursday.
“The voters have elected George Santos. If there is a concern, he will go through ethics (committee),” McCarthy said. “If there is something that is found, he will be dealt with in that manner, but they have a voice in this process.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden’s classified documents, Brazil uprising, calls for Santos to resign, more