Tag Archives: House Oversight Committee

The power of education shows itself in this man

Elijah Cummings is the new chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. He is a Maryland Democrat who’s represented the Baltimore area for more than 25 years in Congress.

“60 Minutes” interviewed Cummings tonight, exploring how he intends to run the committee that on Feb. 7 is going to question Michael Cohen, the convicted felon who once was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and his so-called “fixer.”

The interview covered a lot of ground, including Cummings’ background as the son of Pentecostal ministers; both Mom and Dad were preachers.

He talked about how his father instilled in young Elijah the value of education.

His father told him that “if you miss any school that means you died the previous night.” Cummings told “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft that he “never missed a day of school.”

That’s what I call discipline. Pay attention, Michael Cohen. You are going to be facing a tiger.

This hearing ought to be an attention-getter

When was the last time you waited with bated breath for a congressional hearing? Oh, maybe . . . never? I get that. I suppose you can consider me to be a weirdo, as I have actually looked forward to these kinds of events.

Let’s look ahead now to Feb. 7. That’s when Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer/fixer for Donald Trump, will testify before the House Oversight Committee.

What does it mean? A couple of things.

First, it means that Democrats who have just taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives are going to start flexing their muscles in their search for facts surrounding the president’s conduct.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is a Maryland Democrat who’s no one’s fool. He’s a smart man. An experienced member of Congress.

He wants Cohen — who faces a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to campaign-related crimes — to talk publicly about what he knew about the Trump campaign’s behavior in 2016.

Cohen paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels a six-figure sum for her to stay quiet about a sexual encounter she had with the future president; Trump denies the encounter occurred, but he paid her anyway. Go figure.

That is just the beginning.

The rest of it is likely to wander far afield undoubtedly. Why did Cohen lie to federal authorities? On whose instruction did he lie? To what extent did he lie? What does Cohen know about those mysterious meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives who were working to interfere with the 2016 election?

Cohen already has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller, who sought leniency for Cohen from the federal judge who sentenced him. Instead, Cohen got a three-year prison sentence.

Cohen is no prince. He lied in search of personal gain. He once stood foursquare behind Donald Trump. Now he’s trying to atone for that, which now seems a bit late in the game to receive any sort of absolution. The sentencing judge scolded him harshly while handing down the sentence.

However, he well might have plenty to say in public to House committee members and their investigators.

If you’re a political junkie, as I am, you are going to await this drama.

I might even have some popcorn ready.

Ivanka: not your run-of-the-mill presidential kin

I know this doesn’t really need to be said, but I’ll offer it anyway.

Ivanka Trump is not your run-of-the-mill presidential family member who is “off limits” from intense media scrutiny. Ivanka is a key member of the president’s team of advisers. He’s a “senior” adviser, in fact, although I don’t know what in the world qualifies her as “senior” anything.

Donald Trump no doubt sees any media inquiry, for example, into her use of a personal e-mail account to conduct government business as an intrusion into a “private matter.” It’s far from it.

Ivanka Trump needs to steel herself for an intense look by Democrats who will run the House of Representatives. So should her dad, the president. So should her brothers, Eric and Don Jr.

So should we all.

Indeed, the only children of Donald Trump who should be exempt from media scrutiny are Tiffany, his daughter with his second wife, Marla Maples, and young Barron, who lives in the White House with the president and first lady Melania Trump.

Daddy Trump says there’s no comparison between what Ivanka has done and what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did when she used her personal e-mail account while she ran the State Department.

But . . . what Ivanka Trump has allegedly done is worth a careful look by Congress. She should be called to testify before, say, the House Oversight Committee and forced to answer questions under oath about what she put out there for all the world to see.

She’s not just a “first daughter” who deserves to be left alone. She’s part of the president’s inner circle, a cog in Donald Trump’s “fine-tuned machine.”

To what end will this investigation lead?

I’ve spent a good part of my day sitting in my study. My TV has been tuned to a cable news channel, which has been broadcasting a congressional hearing with a single witness: FBI agent Peter Strzok.

My question is this: For what purpose are they conducting this all-day marathon?

Strzok used to serve on Robert Mueller’s team that is looking at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Then he and another agent, Lisa Page, were fired. Mueller canned them when it became known that they had exchanged anti-Trump messages via e-mail. Congressional Republicans allege a deep bias against the president. They are contending that the alleged bias taints the Mueller probe. They are seeking to undermine Mueller’s probe.

So, where is this investigation going? The U.S. House Oversight Committee is going to issue some kind of report. Then what? Suppose the report determines Mueller’s team has been biased and has conducted a corrupt investigation into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election. Are they going to recommend an end to the probe?

Strzok has defended himself fiercely. He said he and the FBI did everything “by the book.”

I keep circling back to the man at the top of the investigation, Robert Mueller.

I remain quite convinced that Mueller’s integrity is intact. He is a former FBI director. He is known to be a meticulous lawyer. Mueller has assembled a top-tier legal team to probe deeply into the myriad issues surrounding the Trump campaign.

As for the president’s assertion — backed up by his GOP allies in Congress — that the Russia probe is being dominated by “13 Democrats,” this flies in the face of the fact that Mueller is a life-long Republican; so is the man who appointed him, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and … so is the man Trump fired as FBI director, James Comey.

Trump accuses Mueller of launching a “witch hunt” against him. I strongly suspect another type of “witch hunt” is under way. It ‘s occurring in Congress and the target is Mueller, who the GOP is targeting because he is inching closer to the White House in his probe into what happened during the 2016 presidential campaign.

House Oversight Committee Republicans have one of Mueller’s former team members — Peter Strzok — in their sights.

Where in the world is this congressional probe heading? I think it will end up in the ditch, right along with the Benghazi probe.

So long, Chairman Chaffetz

Jason Chaffetz stunned his U.S. House of Representatives colleagues today by announcing his intention to step away from Congress next year.

The Utah Republican won’t seek re-election.

Scuttlebutt is going in a couple of directions: Chaffetz might run for Utah governor in 2020 or he might seek a U.S. Senate seat after that.

The young lawmaker has made a bit of name for himself during his time in Congress. He chairs the House Oversight Committee and spent a lot of time — and taxpayer money — looking for dirt to throw onto Hillary Rodham Clinton while she was running for president this past year. He came up empty, as did his predecessor as chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

My own thoughts of Chairman Chaffetz, though, go back to when he was first elected to Congress. He became one of those grandstanders who slept each night on a couch in his office. He didn’t bother with renting an apartment, or buying a home in Washington, D.C.

I recall him making some noise about wanting to connect with his constituents back home. He flew home regularly to be with his wife and children. I admire his dedication to his family.

However, I always have wondered about politicians who call attention to themselves ostensibly to make some sort of statement about staying in touch with the home folks. I am left to ask: How many folks back home sleep on office furniture?

Rep. Issa gets schooled by Benghazi chairman

Comeuppance at times can be the real pits.

Isn’t that right, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa?

The former chairman of the House Oversight Committee tried Tuesday to crash a closed-door hearing into — yes, that’s right — the Benghazi matter. You’ll recall that incident and the interminable congressional hearings that Issa, R-Calif., chaired when he led the Oversight Committee.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/16/rep-issa-visits-blumenthal-deposition-on-benghazi-escorted-out-by-rep-gowdy/

The Benghazi matter has been handed over to a House select committee, chaired by Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

So, Issa showed up at the closed deposition being given by former Hillary Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. Issa  entered the hearing room, but then was escorted quickly into the hallway by Gowdy.

Issa then stormed off. I guess he didn’t like being told he didn’t belong there.

Too bad, Darrell.

Gowdy’s committee, I must point out, is replowing ground that Issa’s committee already turned over. It’s still looking for something — anything — that will implicate former Secretary of State Clinton in the Benghazi matter, the firefight at the U.S. consulate on Sept. 11, 2012 that left four Americans dead, including he U.S. ambassador to Libya.

To be candid, I believe the select panel will come up just as empty as the Oversight Committee did. That means Clinton’s presidential campaign will proceed.

I have to chuckle a bit, though, at the spectacle of Issa — who at times conducted his Oversight hearings on  Benghazi with an extra-heavy hand — getting some of what he dished while he was embarking on his own congressional fishing expedition.

 

 

Here we go: Congress to probe email tempest

It was a matter of time — and it took no time at all — before Congress would decide to conduct hearings into Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email accounts while she served as secretary of state.

Here’s how I believe the inquiries break down: What will they learn? What do they hope to learn?

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/235769-boehner-reportedly-set-to-announce-clinton-email-probe

At issue is Clinton’s use of a private account rather than using a State Department email account to communicate with, oh, this or that foreign minister or U.S. government staffers relating to official government activity.

The hearings might enable members of Congress to learn what she said and when she said it, and to whom. The public also might learn whether Clinton divulged national security secrets while using the private account — which is the one thing she said categorically the other day she didn’t do.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said — by golly — he doesn’t want to subpoena Clinton. Sure thing, Mr. Chairman. “I’d rather not have to subpoena her, but if she’s fully cooperative there wouldn’t be a need,” Chaffetz told The Wall Street Journal. “Are we prepared to do so if necessary? I suppose so. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

Now, what does the Republican-led Congress hope to learn? Only God knows. I’m guessing the leadership hopes to learn something — anything — that is going to damage Clinton’s chances of getting elected president of the United States next year.

That’s how it goes in the world of politics. Something goes amiss and Congress jumps all over it.

If the hearings commence, and I am quite certain they will, be sure to tune in to all the speeches lawmakers will make prior to asking whatever questions they intend to ask. This is a bipartisan tendency. Indeed, as Republicans pontificate over their outrage at what they suspect happened, you’ll hear Democrats blather on about how they are utterly certain this is all a witch hunt.

Get ready for it. The fun is just beginning.