The new, Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing Wednesday. Under Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), the hearing’s purpose was to begin what is expected to be a long and detailed investigation of the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration policies that brought it about.

Republicans have long said the Hunter Biden laptop scandal is really a Joe Biden story. Now, it looks like the Joe Biden classified documents scandal is also a Hunter Biden story. Two Biden scandals are merging into one.

Columbia, South Carolina — Former President Donald Trump did something unusual here in South Carolina Saturday night. He held a small event, or at least a relatively small event. Trump is known for holding massive rallies, with 8,000, 10,000, 15,000, or even more attending. His appearance in the main lobby of the state Capitol in Columbia was tiny by comparison, with perhaps 500 people in the room, and maybe a little less than that.

What is the most important similarity of the Joe Biden and Donald Trump classified documents investigations? Of course, there is the simple fact that both men, the current and former presidents, are accused of mishandling classified information. But just as critical, from the public’s perspective, is this: We don’t know what that information was. We don’t know if the classified material each allegedly mishandled involved the nation’s most sensitive and carefully guarded secrets, secrets that would do grave damage to national security if revealed, or whether it was minor stuff that should never have been classified in the first place.

The United States has shipped massive amounts of military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022. There has been bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for the aid, although some Republicans have questioned the price tag — $27.5 billion so far in military aid, or “security assistance” alone, which does not include tens of billions in financial, humanitarian, and other types of aid. Some GOP lawmakers have also expressed concern about the lack of safeguards in sending so much money to a notoriously corrupt country.

Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court more than four years ago, on Oct. 6, 2018. His oath followed perhaps the ugliest Supreme Court Senate confirmation process in history — and that, given the previous examples of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, is saying something. But when it was all over, Kavanaugh settled in to the court, where he has, by all accounts, performed admirably ever since.

In a new interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier, former South Carolina governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walked close to the line of declaring her candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. “I’m not going to make an announcement here,” Haley said. “But when you’re looking at a run for president, you look at two things. You first look at, does the current situation push for new leadership? The second question is, am I that person that could be that new leader?”

Here’s a lesson from the polls in the last 16 months. When President Joe Biden is unpopular, when things are going badly, his job approval rating falls to about 36%. When he is doing better, when things are going well, his job approval rises to about 44%.

It was big news at the time. Shortly after the Aug. 8, 2022, FBI raid to seize classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the winter home of former President Donald Trump, Democrats in Congress asked the intelligence community to do a “damage assessment.” In a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) cited news reports about the classification levels of the documents, including one sensational Washington Post story that Trump held documents concerning nuclear weapons. “At least one report indicates that the FBI’s investigation focused in part on highly classified documents ‘relating to nuclear weapons,’ which are among our nation’s most closely guarded secrets,” they wrote. “If this report is true, it is hard to overstate the national security danger that could emanate from the reckless decision to remove and retain this material.”

This newsletter has written previously about the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. When confronted with more than 2 million illegal border crossers overwhelming U.S. authorities on the border last year — and 250,000 more crossers last month indicates the figure will be even higher this year — Republicans want to find a way to stop, or dramatically reduce, the flow. Democrats want to accommodate it.

On Sept. 23, 2022, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), then the House Minority Leader, traveled to Pennsylvania to unveil the GOP’s midterm campaign platform, the Commitment to America. The document was a “plan for a new direction,” McCarthy said. “We want to roll it out to you, to the entire country, so you know exactly what we will do if you would trust us and give us the ability to take a new direction for this country.”

On Monday evening came one of those stories that seem almost too convenient to be true. CBS News reported that Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a U.S. attorney to investigate classified documents found in an office used by President Joe Biden after he left the vice presidency.

Republicans have spent two years demanding that President Joe Biden visit the U.S.-Mexico border. They wanted Biden to face the real-world consequences of his border policy and the burden it has placed on people not only in the border states but around the country. Now, the GOP has gotten its wish; Biden visited the border at El Paso, Texas, on Sunday. But there is bad news: The president used the occasion of his border visit to make things even worse.

It was obvious when the Capitol riot took place on Jan. 6, 2021, that its aftereffects would last for a long time. The prosecutions alone would be lengthy, and indeed, they are still underway and will be for the foreseeable future. Politically, from the beginning, one party, the Republicans, had an incentive to move on, while the other, the Democrats, had an incentive to dwell on Jan. 6 for as long as possible.

Two contrasting realities of the present-day Republican Party were on display on Tuesday. In the House of Representatives, 20 members of the GOP’s so-called chaos caucus blocked the efforts of 202 fellow Republicans to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker. The move led to a once-in-a-century standoff that paralyzed the House. Members cannot be sworn in, committees cannot be formed, and lawmakers cannot do any work until the deadlock is broken, whenever that might be.

With great fanfare, the House Democrats’ Jan. 6 committee sent to the Justice Department four criminal referrals targeting former President Donald Trump. Committee members, all picked for the job by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), want the Justice Department to investigate Trump for 1) obstruction of an official proceeding; 2) conspiracy to defraud the United States; 3) conspiracy to make a false statement; and 4) “incite,” “assist,” or “aid and comfort” an insurrection.

This week could mark the most consequential development on the U.S.-Mexico border since January 2021, when President Joe Biden essentially opened the nation’s doors to millions of illegal border crossers. On Wednesday, Title 42, the Trump-era measure that allows the U.S. government to quickly return illegal crossers to Mexico on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID, will expire. After that, officials expect a flood of illegal crossers, all coming into the United States confident that they, like hundreds of thousands before them just this year, will be allowed to stay.

President Joe Biden has not officially, finally announced that he is running for reelection in 2024. But he has done everything short of coming out and saying it. The word is that Biden will make a final decision with his family over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Recent news reports suggest that first lady Jill Biden, who not long ago was said to be skeptical about a second presidential campaign, is now “all in” for a 2024 run. All of this means that, once the new year comes around, Biden is likely to declare his candidacy.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden held a big White House ceremony to sign the Respect for Marriage Act, passed by bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate. It was a strange event, celebrating the passage of a bill that will make absolutely no change in the practice of marriage in the United States today.

It is sometimes said that the crisis of illegal crossers on the U.S.-Mexico border “can’t get any worse.” Well, it can. And now it has.