House Republicans, their consciences stirred by the brutal unfairness they’ve seen, came before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and let their righteousness flow like a mighty stream as they pleaded their cause: Michael Flynn Matters!

The Black Lives Matter movement may have gripped the nation since George Floyd died under a police officer’s knee. But the GOP hijacked the committee debate over the Democrats’ Justice in Policing bill Wednesday to revisit complaints about the treatment of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“Before there was even a basis for this embarrassing hoax, you had Jim Comey telling the FBI to go and entrap General Flynn,” complained Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

“The director of the FBI," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), told "the agents, ‘No, no, no don’t drop the case, we’re going after Michael Flynn.’”

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wanted "the FBI held accountable for the gross misconduct that it engaged in with investigating the Trump campaign.”

Again with this? Nearly a month of national unrest has put race in the spotlight, and Republicans talk about a Trump aide’s perjury? For the record, Flynn is a white guy — and Trump’s attorney general is working hard to dismiss the case against him.

In fairness, Republicans didn’t talk only about Flynn. They also talked about the “witch hunt” and impeachment, abortion and the death penalty, and the unfairness done to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who was sentenced to prison.

“The Democrats want to defund, dismantle and abolish the police,” alleged Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), though the bill proposes no such thing. He called antifa a “terrorist organization that has taken over six city blocks in Seattle” and accused Democrats of "allowing rapes, robberies and all sorts of acts to occur under the name of ‘peaceful protests.’”

After enduring lengthy debates on amendments concerning Flynn and antifa, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who is African American, had had enough. “I am absolutely sitting here offended and angry as hell,” he said. Speaking as “a black male … who was a victim of excessive force, who has a black son,” he addressed Republicans in raw terms. “To my colleagues, especially the ones that keep introducing amendments that are a tangent and a distraction from what we’re talking about, you all are white males, you’ve never lived in my shoes,” he said. "If you are opposed to this legislation, let’s just have the vote. But please do not come into this committee room and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community.”

Richmond said he would assume “it is unconscious bias I’m hearing, because at worst it’s conscious bias, and that I would hate to assume from any of the people on the other side.”

Gaetz needled him: “Are you suggesting that you’re certain that none of us have nonwhite children?”

“Matt, Matt, stop!” Richmond shot back, “I’m not about to get sidetracked about the color of our children.”

When Gaetz kept interrupting, Richmond told him: “It is not the color of your kids. It is about black males. If one of them happens to be your kid, I’m concerned about him too — and clearly I’m more concerned about him than you are.”

Gaetz, whose bio lists no children, erupted. “You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do? ” he shouted. “Who in the hell do you think you are? … This is outrageous!”

“If the shoe fits,” Richmond replied. “A kicked dog hollers.”

There was a whole lot of hollering from the minority party, most of it extraneous.

Democrats tried to steer the debate from that straw man to the topic at hand. “Can anyone on the Republican side say unequivocally, black lives matter?” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked.

“Unequivocally, all lives matter,” Gaetz replied. Gaetz, who later called Swalwell’s “theatrics” not "super productive,” added: “It would be as if I were willing to yield to any Democrat willing to say that blue lives matter.”

So what was “super productive”?

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) spoke of “unborn children that are born alive from a botched abortion.”

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) wanted it to be known that “antifa is without a doubt a domestic terrorist group.”

Gaetz described protesters’ “autonomous zone” in Seattle as "racially segregated,” with “all kinds of violent acts,” a “lack of sleep, screaming, gunshot, terror,” and a demand issued for “everyone who is white to give someone who is black $10.”

And most of them had thoughts about poor Gen. Flynn.

“It’s not about Michael Flynn,” said an exasperated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). “What are we going to do about George Floyd?”

Floyd would have to wait. Two hours into the proceedings, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) served notice: “We’ve got 20 other amendments here.”

Watch the latest Opinions videos:

Read more: