President Donald Trump unleashed a Twitter tantrum Thursday labeling congressional oversight as “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” that “should never be allowed to happen again!”
This extraordinary statement came just two days after the president declared during his State of the Union address that, “an economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.”
That was the president of the United States telling members of Congress that the only way he will work with them on legislation is if they agree not to exercise their constitutional rights to act as a check and balance on the executive branch.
Imagine the reaction from congressional Republicans and the Fox News crowd if President Barack Obama had said those very words during a State of the Union address.
I could see Trump attacking him as “the least transparent president – ever – and he ran on transparency,” the accusation he leveled against Obama in 2012.
I could see Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, now the senior Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, front-and-center asking, “How can you ignore the facts when you don’t get the facts? That’s what this is all about. … I just want to get the information. … I think we’re right on target with this. We just want the information so we have the facts.” That is after all what he said when justifying his vote to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over the release of documents subpoenaed by the committee.
GOP oversight mission only applied to Obama
I could see North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, accusing the administration of violating federal laws for not turning over documents to Congress – as he did in 2014 when the committee subpoenaed records from the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS.
I could see my former boss, Darrell Issa, the former chair of the Oversight Committee and now a Trump political appointee, defiantly vowing to hold “seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks” – as he did weeks after the Republicans took the majority in 2010.
Rhetoric like that allowed them to justify issuing more than 100 subpoenas to the Obama administration. It’s how House Republicans justified holding members of the Obama administration in contempt of Congress.
After all, the mission statement Republicans recited at the start of every single oversight committee hearing they presided over declared, “Americans have a right to know that the money Washington takes from them is well spent. … Our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers, because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. We will work tirelessly, in partnership with citizen watchdogs, to deliver the facts to the American people.”
Apparently, what they forgot to add to that “mission statement” were the words, “And this mission only applies to the first black president.”
For the past two years, congressional Republicans retreated from their oversight zealousness, choosing to instead use their majority to protect President Donald Trump. They issued zero subpoenas. Conducted zero investigations into the conduct of the Trump Cabinet. Reduced the volume of committee hearings.
‘Route to the truth is through the House’
Now that Republicans have lost the power of the majority, an investigative avalanche is about to engulf the Trump presidency. Congressional Democrats wisely spent their first month in the majority laying the groundwork to launch a series of important investigations. They organized their committees, added members, updated their committee rules, hired investigative staff, and are now operating at full capacity.
Less than 24 hours after Trump’s State of the Union address, the House Intelligence Committee moved to turn over thousands of pages of documents to special counsel Robert Mueller. Chairman Adam Schiff also announced a wide-ranging investigation examining, among other things, “the scope and scale of the Russian government’s operations to influence” U.S. elections and whether “any foreign actor” has influenced Trump’s decisions.
The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a high-profile hearing with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Friday.
Earlier this week, Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings launched an investigation into the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman after receiving reports that the office was “failing to carry out its statutory duties to help people applying for legal immigration programs and to assist the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to improve those programs.”
There was a time when Republicans like Jim Jordan said passionately that “the only remedy we have to get to the truth … the only route to the truth is through the House of Representatives … through this committee.” Jordan’s sincerity is about to be tested as the oversight onslaught begins.
This article provided by NewsEdge.