News broke early Friday: The Republican minority on the House Judiciary Committee was releasing a “1,000 Page Report” on alleged politicization of the FBI and the Justice Department. The length was mentioned in the group’s tweet and in its press release, reinforcing the heft that 1,000 pages of documentation would obviously convey.
There’s just one problem with this assertion: The report itself was less than 50 pages. Most of the rest of the document was letters sent by the minority members of the committee to various people. In fact, there were more than 1,000 pages of material that wasn’t the report itself, instead mostly those letters.
Included were pages with nothing but signatures on the letters: There were more than seven times as many pages that had nothing of substance on them except signatures than there were pages in the report.
The report gets off to a traditional start. A cover page, three pages of executive summary. Then an unusual but pertinent page calling on potential whistleblowers to reach out to the committee. After that come 43 pages of the report itself, documenting alleged complaints from within the Justice Department about the department’s culture.
That’s where the meat of the document ends. What follows first is an eight-page appendix identified as “Attacks on Pro-Life Facilities,” most of which are incidents of vandalism. Then a nine-page appendix that serves as a subindex of the scores of letters that make up the rest of the document.
Or, put visually:
Notice that many of the letters — 725 of the 1,050 total pages — consist of dozens of duplicates of the same two letters. One centers on a public letter signed by former intelligence officials in October 2020 questioning the legitimacy of the New York Post’s story that month about Hunter Biden. It appears that each signatory was sent a letter from the Judiciary Republicans. The second of the two letters was sent to dozens of U.S. attorneys, centered on the idea — popular in conservative media last year — that the Justice Department had broadly targeted school parents as violent threats. (It didn’t.)
Of those 725 pages, 290 included nothing but signatures.
This is an intentional tactic, of course. Conservative media outlets like the Daily Caller (“ ‘Rotted At Its Core’: House Judiciary GOP Releases Massive 1,000-Page Report On Alleged FBI Misconduct”) and Fox News (“House Republicans release 1,000-page report alleging politicization in the FBI, DOJ”) included the purported length of the document in their article headlines. The idea is that the Judiciary Republicans either have 1,000 pages of analysis to share with the country or, at least, 1,000 pages of evidence to bolster their claims. At most, they have about two dozen.
This ploy was a favorite of Donald Trump’s. Shortly before the 2020 election, for example, he gave an interview to CBS News’s Leslie Stahl. At the end of the interview, his team presented Stahl with a thick binder that they contended was an articulation of his health-care plan.
It was not a health-care plan but, instead, a mish-mashed compilation of other documents.
President Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, gave us a heavy book that she described as the president’s health care plan. It was filled with executive orders and congressional initiatives, but no comprehensive healthcare plan. https://t.co/Mn6HRAOwHL pic.twitter.com/WmsoRQP2WJ
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 26, 2020
Again, the point was to seem like there was some heft there. To use physical scale as a proxy for importance. It worked a bit better on television than in a downloadable PDF, certainly, but the Judiciary Republicans’ version of the ploy at least managed to snooker their conservative-media allies.
AMERICAN HERO Congressman Jim Jordan is taking on the FBI–which has Disgraced itself. He just dropped a 1000 page report detailing its CORRUPTION. MUST BE OVERHAULED and possibly DISBANDED ! pic.twitter.com/H9oQlB9Ljp
— Greg Kelly (@gregkellyusa) November 4, 2022
One final bit of data. If we pick a name at random — say, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) — we can tally that his signature appears on 173 pages alongside his colleagues. In other words, there are four times as many pages with Chip Roy’s signature as there are actual pages in the report.
Not quite the hefty bombshell the committee’s allies are suggesting.