The House is in session.

After a protracted speaker’s fight and a narrowly averted fistfight on the House floor, Republican Kevin McCarthy was handed the gavel and representatives finally took their oaths of office. Now, representatives on both sides of the aisle are seeking and accepting committee assignments, and the House leadership – in Republican hands – is setting priorities for the next two years: investigation, investigation and more investigation of the Biden administration.

Scholar Claire Leavitt, who studies government oversight, gives us a brief history of oversight and explains how investigation, which is a legitimate function of government, can serve a different purpose when the White House is the target.

Lorna Grisby

Senior Politics & Society Editor

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy walks to the speaker’s ceremonial office at the Capitol on Jan. 9, 2023. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Congress investigates presidents, the military, baseball and whatever it wants – a brief modern history of oversight

Claire Leavitt, Smith College

The House GOP has announced a slew of investigations, including a review of the conduct of the Department of Justice and its investigations of Donald Trump.

What does it mean when a document is classified? Pgim/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

DOJ probes Biden document handling – what is classified information, anyway?

Jeffrey Fields, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

What are classified documents? Who gets to see them? What happens if they are released? A former State Department and Department of Defense staffer who had top secret clearance provides the answers.

Donald Trump waves to people during a New Year’s event at his Mar-a-Lago home in December 2022. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trump is facing various criminal charges – here’s what we can learn from legal cases against Nixon and Clinton

Kirsten Matoy Carlson, Wayne State University

Trump isn’t the first modern president with legal problems, but he would be the first former president to be indicted for alleged crimes.

Democracy under attack in Brazil: 5 questions about the storming of Congress and the role of the military

Rafael R. Ioris, University of Denver

The sacking of key democratic institutions in Brasilia has parallels with the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol but was different in one key way: the position of the military.

5 types of threat – how those who want to divide us use language to stoke violence

H. Colleen Sinclair, Louisiana State University

Language can provoke violence between groups especially when people paint others as threats.

4 ways Netanyahu’s new far-right government threatens Israeli democracy

Boaz Atzili, American University School of International Service

Israel’s most far-right and religious ruling coalition, which just assumed power, poses a profound threat to the country’s democratic institutions, from the courts to individual rights.

How does a child become a shooter? Research suggests easy access to guns and exposure to screen violence increase the risk

Brad Bushman, The Ohio State University; Dan Romer, University of Pennsylvania

Watching gun violence on screen can desensitize children to the harm caused by firearms.

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