Just how seriously should we take this effort by Congress to head off conspiracy theories in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide? “Where you have few facts, you have much speculation,” says … Rep. Al Green (D-TX), the man who has pushed articles of impeachment almost since Donald Trump’s inauguration. Rest assured we can take this seriously in the same House where Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff are still flogging the Russia-collusion theory.
And you know who’d take the lead on this, right?
Members of Congress, furious over Jeffrey Epstein’s death in federal custody, are set on getting to the bottom of it before the many conspiracy theories swirling around the accused serial sex offender’s demise completely overshadow the facts.
They are, obviously, running far behind. By the time the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Monday demanding answers about the circumstances of Epstein’s apparent suicide, the country already had two full days to marinate in President Trump’s retweet of a conspiracy theory that former President Bill Clinton was somehow to blame. …
“Where you have few facts, you have much speculation,” said Rep. Al Green (D-TX). “If we don’t get facts before the people… we will find ourselves dealing with speculation about what happened in that cell.”
The House Judiciary Committee is currently chaired by none other than Jerrold Nadler. When the nation needs a thorough debunking of conspiracy theory thinking, Nadler’s just the man for the job. We’ll have to wait until he finds every last Russian under the beds of every last Republican, but he’s gonna be on top of it after then.
To be fair, some of the members want the Oversight Committee to take on the job, including Green:
Green, for his part, told The Daily Beast the Epstein case warrants a federal fact-finding effort on par with the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Texas Democrat has written to Trump asking him to appoint a special investigator to head up such a probe; he has also requested that House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) open up an investigation.
While the Judiciary Committee oversees federal prisons, the Oversight Committee’s broad jurisdiction has prompted members to call on Cummings not only to investigate Epstein’s death but also his criminal conduct and others who may have been implicated in it. Spokespeople for Cummings did not respond to requests for comment about the chairman’s plans.
Cummings would be better than Nadler, but … that’s a pretty low bar. The Russia-collusion conspiracy theory was spread far and wide across the House Democrat caucus over the last two-plus years. They don’t have much credibility as conspiracy-theory scolds at this point, especially not with Nadler and Schiff still assaulting the dead equine on practically a daily basis.
This isn’t really a job for Congress anyway, except in a more general sense of resource allocation. If they’re interested in finding out what the suicide rate is in federal detention centers and how to provide resources to address it, that’s a good Oversight or Judiciary topic. Investigating a specific incident such as Epstein’s suicide requires actual criminal investigators acting with discretion in the immediate term, and in this case an Inspector General probe to review all of the pertinent information to determine the facts. Rushing factoids out in public hearings before people can connect dots and present them in context will drive conspiracy thinking, not combat it.
That would be true even if House Democrats hadn’t spent two years promising that Russia collusion was “proven” before Robert Mueller slapped the pie in their faces. Post-Mueller, this is a good opportunity to sit down, shut up, and demand that William Barr do his job rather than try to do it for him.