Gone almost unnoticed during last week's healthcare battles, House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee last Wednesday pulled the latest in their ongoing effort to block investigation of Russian election hacking and its potential connections to the Donald Trump campaign and administration. Specifically, they blocked a Democratic amendment asking for more information about the firing of FBI Director James Comey, replacing it instead with an amendment demanding more investigation of ... Hillary Clinton.
By the next evening, Twitter sleuths had identified where the text of that House Republican amendment had been cribbed from: a pro-Trump Reddit conspiracy subgroup.
Thursday night, three Twitter users discovered that a staffer for one of the resolution’s sponsors attempted to crowdsource a number of the resolution's salient points from r/The_Donald, a subreddit notorious for playing host to unfounded conspiracy theories and anti-Islam tendencies. In other words, not a conventional source of legislative inspiration.
The frequent r/The_Donald visitor asking for the group's input on what House Republicans should be investigating instead of Russian election hacking, Devinm666, was then confirmed to be legislative assistant Devin Murphy, an aide to Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. And Devin Murphy was up-front about his own alt-right notions in posts to the group:
About seven months ago (prior to taking his current job), he referred to Barack Obama as "Barry o'Islama": [...]
In other posts, he refers to Obama as a "Kenyan Muslim," and refugees in Germany as "raping savages."
After soliciting potential Clinton scandals to "investigate" instead of Russian election hacking, Murphy then cribbed from the resulting replies to create an amendment that would block the Democratic effort. Among its demands: That the United Kingdom-based company of the private investigator who first compiled the now-famous "dossier" of Trump-Russia links be itself investigated, rather than Trump’s own actions.
A key note here is that the "r/The_Donald" subreddit isn't just any pro-Trump group. They're a den of (frequently racist, typically alt-right) conspiracy theory promoters who have pushed such malevolent notions as "Pizzagate", the claim that a Clinton-linked pizza restaurant was trafficking in child slaves which soon sent an armed "patriot" to the restaurant to shoot the place up a bit while he was looking. Its racism, general lunacy, and specifically the frequency with which the group launches trolling attacks against other Reddit users has been a thorn in the side of Reddit for some time.
So it's not just news that Rep. Matt Gaetz is soliciting legislative ideas from the group in order to tie up congressional investigations of Russia and Trump; it's news that a member of his staff is a "frequent" contributor to the group at all. Murphy has been deleting his old comments to the group, but there is no word over whether any action will be taken by Gaetz's office in response to the news that one of the staffers helping Gaetz write new United States laws believes the last president was a secret Muslim or otherwise traffics in the various asininities of the far-far-right. It truly does seem that there is no longer a line of demarcation between the worst loons of the internet and the people Republican voters willingly send to Washington.