Power Of The Pest: How Jared Moskowitz Helped Wreck The Impeachment Inquiry

The Florida Democrat seems to have mastered the art of getting to James Comer, the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) holds up a whiteboard at a Sept. 28 House Oversight Committee inquiry on impeaching President Joe Biden. On it, he compares the impeachments and indictments of former President Donald Trump to Biden's.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) holds up a whiteboard at a Sept. 28 House Oversight Committee inquiry on impeaching President Joe Biden. On it, he compares the impeachments and indictments of former President Donald Trump to Biden's.
Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Every member of Congress knows that their five minutes of speaking time at committee hearings are an opportunity to make a memorable C-SPAN clip, but few have exploited the medium like Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.).

At House Oversight Committee meetings, the freshman congressman has ignored the custom of posing questions to witnesses and gone straight after the committee’s chair, James Comer, mocking the Kentucky Republican’s efforts to impeach President Joe Biden.

“There is no protocol or procedure on what you have to do in your five minutes,” Moskowitz told HuffPost. “You don’t have to ask questions. By the way, you don’t even have to talk on topic.”

In November, under attack from Moskowitz, Comer lost his cool, accusing the Democrat of spreading “bullshit” and looking like a Smurf.

“Gargamel was angry today,” Moskowitz said on social media afterward, referring to the fictional sworn enemy of the cartoon Smurfs.

The exchange was a notable example of what one Republican described as “failure theater” in the impeachment project, which has been doomed from the start thanks to the leftover material Republicans have been working with. Their “most corroborating” new evidence, for an already-debunked theory about Biden’s corruption, has turned out to have been made up.

Moskowitz, a 43-year-old who wears sneakers with his suits, has been one of the most visible Democrats on the committee, along with fellow first-year Reps. Jasmine Crockett (Texas), Daniel Goldman (N.Y.) and Robert Garcia (Calif.).

The committee’s most senior Democrat, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, said Moskowitz has “mastered not only parliamentary rules but the fine art of debunking Russian propaganda while getting under Chairman Comer’s skin.”

A spokesperson for Comer declined to comment.

“If Reps. Raskin and Moskowitz are proud of his immature behavior, then that says a lot about their level of seriousness,” said a GOP aide who was granted anonymity to be able to speak candidly.

House Oversight Committee members, from left, Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.) attend a March 20 hearing titled "Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden's Abuse of Public Office."
House Oversight Committee members, from left, Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.) attend a March 20 hearing titled "Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden's Abuse of Public Office."
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Moskowotz has a curious political origin story. He first performed on the national stage back when he worked for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, as director of the state’s emergency management department. In March 2020, Moskowitz launched a public relations attack against the multinational conglomerate 3M because it was selling protective masks to overseas buyers instead of to the Florida government as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.

“Hi @3M. I’m your new Troll,” Moskowitz said on Twitter. “Please send us N95 masks directly to our hospitals, first responders and the state.”

The callout came in those bewildering early days of the pandemic, when people were hunkering down and hoarding supplies and policymakers collaborated on the government response. Moskowitz’s effort to secure masks for his people earned him a star turn on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“The idea that an American company is selling masks away from our hospitals, away from our doctors, away from the real heroes on the front lines is something that will long be investigated after this,” Moskowitz told Carlson, blasting 3M for having made “a globalist decision and not put America first.”

Moskowitz grew up in Florida and attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the site of a horrific mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018. As a member of the Florida Legislature at the time of the school massacre, Moskowitz helped draft a landmark gun control law setting up a red flag system and raising the state’s gun-buying age to 21. Working on the bill taught Moskowitz how to communicate in public and work with Republicans, he said, and the following year, DeSantis appointed him to run the state’s emergency management division.

When he was offered the position, Moskowitz said, “I took it because I had dealt with the nation’s largest mass shooting at a high school in American history, and it felt like a ‘this was happening for a reason’ kind of deal.”

In 2022, Moskowitz defeated Republican Joe Budd to replace the retiring Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, to represent the safely Democratic and heavily Jewish 23rd Congressional District, which includes Boca Raton, Coral Springs and parts of Fort Lauderdale in South Florida. Moskowitz has been a reliable Democratic vote, though he was one of several Jewish Democrats to break with the party on an Israel funding bill that cut the Internal Revenue Service budget and on the censure of Rep. Rashida Tliab (D-Mich.) over allegedly antisemitic comments in criticizing Israel.

Moskowitz said he wanted to join the oversight committee when he saw the Republican lineup, which included Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), the most inflammatory demagogue in Congress. Greene, too, flouts conventions at hearings and has repeatedly displayed large photos of the president’s son apparently engaged in sex acts with prostitutes.

While not explicitly saying he and Greene share a media strategy, Moskowitz said that, thanks to an attention economy pioneered by Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, “every congressman’s like a mini PR company” and that being right isn’t good enough.

“If you don’t make it entertaining, you don’t break through,” he said. “Make it a little entertaining, and that’s why we’ve beaten them in the oversight hearings. We’ve beaten them because we’ve given them a taste of their own medicine.”

At a committee meeting in January, when Republicans pushed a contempt of Congress citation against Hunter Biden, Moskowitz brought a giant photo of Donald Trump with Jeffrey Epstein, who died in jail while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

“The guy you all kneel to associates himself with a pedophile,” Moskowitz said, outraging the Republican side of the room.

“I kneel for Christ!” bellowed Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.).

But Moskowitz is probably best known for provoking Comer. He rankled the Oversight Committee chair during an otherwise sleepy November hearing about the General Services Administration. Instead of questioning GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan, Moskowitz queried Comer.

“I think you owe it to the American people to explain why you have gone on Fox News and told people that while the president was out of office he had a loan with his brother and in a way they were evading taxes,” Moskowitz said, referring to a loan between Joe and James Biden that Comer dubiously claimed was corrupt. “It has come out in the public you also do business with your brother with potential loans.”

Comer deeply resented the question, which referred to what he called a “bullshit” Daily Beast story about financial transactions between him and his brother involving similar sums of money and a “shell company” of the sort allegedly favored by Hunter Biden. He noted that both Moskowitz and Goldman, whom he described as “Mr. Trust Fund,” had tweeted the story.

“The White House tried to get CNN to write that story,” Comer said. “They went around and investigated all this bullshit that [White House spokesperson] Ian Sams is trying to tell people that only dumb, financially illiterate people picked up on.”

Moskowitz, wearing a light blue suit, tried to interrupt, apparently prompting Comer to reach for the meanest insult he could think of. “You look like a Smurf here just going around and all this stuff,” Comer said.

In a November Newsmax interview, Comer said he wanted a private deposition with Hunter Biden, rather than a public hearing, partly because of “little Moskowitz jumping up and down” disrupting the hearing.

At the next hearing, in January, Moskowitz wore a Smurf tie. In February, he wore a black suit and dress shoes to Hunter Biden’s deposition, saying the impeachment inquiry had died. (The proximate cause of the death was the Justice Department’s indictment of an FBI informant who’d made up a Ukrainian bribe allegation against the Bidens. The informant allegedly has ties to Russian spy services.)

Before a hearing in March, Moskowitz wore a Vladimir Putin mask in the hallway, and then during the meeting he dared Republicans to go ahead and vote on impeaching Joe Biden. “Let’s just do the impeachment,” Moskowitz said. “When is it going to happen? When are you going to tell the American people you’re going to stop wasting their money?”

“We don’t do snap impeachments like you guys,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, referring to Donald Trump’s quick second impeachment after he incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The chairman knows me well. I’m just here to help him,” Moskowitz said after some back and forth, again inviting Comer to go ahead and hold the vote. Jordan smiled; Comer frowned and shook his head.

“It’s never going to happen, because they don’t have the evidence,” Moskowitz said. “This is just a show. It’s all fake.”

The apparent enmity between Comer and Moskowitz is real, or at least there’s no behind-the-scenes rapport between the two, according to Moskowitz.

After House votes wrapped up one week in December, Moskowitz said, he noticed Comer on his flight to Miami, assuming the Republican had a fundraiser or some other event in Florida. They didn’t talk.

“We land in Miami. We’re in the baggage claim. And, you know, we’ve been on the flight for a while, so I gotta go to the bathroom. So I go to the bathroom while I’m waiting for my baggage, and the only person in the bathroom when I walk in ― it’s fucking James Comer.”

As Moskowitz remembers it, each man pretended the other was not there.

“And so there is this image of me and Comer standing next to each other, staring at the wall as we’re going to the bathroom, then washing our hands and then leaving as if neither one of us were in the bathroom together.”

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