Tag Archives: Darrell Issa

‘None of your business’? Why, I never …

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa is getting a bit testy, or so it appears.

A reporter asked the veteran California Republican lawmaker how he intended to vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with some sort of Republican-sponsored alternative.

Issa responded, “It’s none of your business.” The reporter then responded with a question about Issa’s constituents. Don’t they need to know? “You’re not a constituent,” Issa replied.

OK. Let’s settle down for a second or two.

Exchange got tense

Rep. Issa is a member of Congress. He is one of 435 members of the House. This body writes federal law. It then enacts those laws, which then get approved by the Senate and gets signed by the president.

Thus, we’re all his constituents, if you get my drift.

Rep. Issa, you need to get a grip, sir. Reporters asking you for your opinion on an important piece of federal legislation is everyone’s business.

Issa has no special privilege to keep his views on these critical matters to himself.

GOP lawmaker gets it right: appoint a special prosecutor

Well … as I live and breathe.

Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California — one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most fervent nemeses on Capitol Hill — has shown his reasonable side.

Issa believes a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate allegations about Donald J. Trump’s connections to the Russian government.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the wrong man to lead such a probe, Issa told Bill Maher on his “Real Time” TV show.

Issa said, according to the Associated Press: “You’re right that you cannot have somebody — a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions — who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office.”

How about that?

Issa makes the case that Sessions is too close to the president and too much in Trump’s hip pocket to be a faithful and committed investigator into allegations about the president’s relationships with Russian government officials.

Intelligence agencies have determined that Russian hackers sought to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump keeps denying it, calling such reporting “fake news.” What’s more, there now are questions about whether the Trump campaign had improper contact with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign while the government was (allegedly) trying to sway the election in Trump’s favor.

Sessions role in the campaign? He was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump; he spoke in Trump’s favor at the Republican convention this past summer; he joined the campaign as a national security adviser; and then he got appointed attorney general by the same president who should be investigated for improper conduct.

It’s to be expected that Democrats would insist on a special prosecutor. To hear such demands come from Republicans — let alone one who pursued a leading Democratic politician seemingly forever — provides a need push in the drive to find the unvarnished truth in this ongoing story.

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.


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.



Sen. Graham: No emails from me

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is appealing to the technologically challenged.

The South Carolina Republican says he’s never sent an email and prefers to talk face to face with his South Carolina constituents. Well, good for him.


Graham said on “Meet the Press” that the next president of the United States — which might be him, although that seems to be among the longest of long shots — should be good with people, not technology.

That’s quaint talk, senator. It’s also meaningless.

The subject came up in a discussion of the email flap that keeps hounding Hillary Rodham Clinton and her use of a private email account while she served as secretary of state. Some Republicans, such as Rep. Darrell Issa of California, suggest Clinton might face “criminal charges.” Oh, brother.

Graham said Sunday: “The way I communicate is that I talk to people face to face, I’ll pick up the phone. I think the best thing is … to go to the Mideast, not email about the Mideast, not be told about the Mideast, but get on the ground.”

Maybe it’s just me, but my strong hunch is that in the remote chance Graham gets elected president next year that he’ll have plenty of staff sitting around waiting to communicate via email with a pertinent foreign leader. Were he climb aboard Air Force One just to talk to someone, say, in the Middle East, well … that could get a little expensive.

And haven’t Republicans been casting stones at the current president, Barack Obama, and his family over their alleged overuse of that big jumbo jet?


Foes team up for security reform

It turns out that two leading members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee aren’t enemies for life after all.

Republican Chairman Darrell Issa and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings are on the same page regarding the Secret Service. They want a broad investigation that examines the culture that seems to pervade the agency charged with protecting the president of the United States.


Their concern is legit. The Secret Service has been pounded in the media and on Capitol Hill for the horrendous security lapses that have placed the president in potential peril. The agency’s director, Julia Pierson, has resigned. Issa and Cummings have sent Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson a letter asking to examine a full range of issues that have resulted in what they call “embarrassing security mistakes.”

We’ve had the fence-jumper who ran through the front door of the White House. That incident came after an armed convicted felon got into an elevator with President Obama in Atlanta, standing only a few feet from the head of state.

The Secret Service is in trouble. It needs fixing. Congress has been justifiably outraged over these embarrassing matters.

Issa and Cummings have had their differences over their committee’s handling of the IRS matter and the Benghazi controversy.

On this one, they’ve locked arms and are demanding answers.

Political animosity appears to come and go, according to the issue of the moment.

I’m OK with that.

GOP getting unhappy over IRS probe

Might there be some restiveness brewing within Republican congressional ranks?

It appears, according to Politico.com, that some GOP members of Congress are getting a bit tired of the incessant probing, questioning and spending of taxpayer money over a controversy that seems to have run out of steam.


You remember the Internal Revenue Service “scandal” that boiled up nearly a year ago when it was learned that the most loathed agency in the federal government was vetting conservative political action groups’ request for tax-exempt status? Remember when all that broke?

It was considered a big deal because some folks feared that the IRS got its marching orders from the White House, perhaps from within the Oval Office itself. Heck, maybe the president himself awoke in the wee hours one morning, picked up the phone and called the IRS himself and ordered the agency to stick it to those right-wingers, correct?

Well, none of that seems to have happened. Instead, the IRS acted apparently as it is charged to do — with liberal and conservative groups alike — and vetted tea party groups carefully to ensure that they didn’t violate federal tax status laws. Investigators have determined that all decisions reportedly were made by field office personnel; they were not mandated by White House directives.

None of that has satisfied House Government Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who keeps beating the drum looking for something — anything! — that ties this controversy to President Obama’s shirt tail.

It turns out some of his GOP colleagues — not to mention Democratic House members — are getting weary of it.

“There is a perception that if your case is rock-solid, it doesn’t need months to sort it out,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who is considered a probable successor to Issa as chairman, given that Issa is being term-limited out of the chairman’s seat at the end of the current Congress.

The case has been far from rock-solid. In fact, it has been shown to be mushy soft and full of holes.

Let’s get off this one, Mr. Chairman, and get back to legislating — which is what we pay our lawmakers to do.

Where's the fairness?

Good journalism — be it print or broadcast — relies on relatively few basic tenets.

Accuracy is one. Thoroughness is another. So is fairness.

And fairness requires that you seek out both sides of a dispute, such as one that recently erupted in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican, shut down a hearing as the ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, sought to pose a question of Lois Lerner, an Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a controversy that some folks want to turn into a full-blown scandal.

The IRS has been criticized for its vetting of conservative political action groups seeking tax-exempt status. What the right-wingers don’t acknowledge, of course, is that the IRS does the same thing to liberal groups.

Back to journalism’s fairness tenet.

The Rev. Al Sharpton — a liberal MSBNC talk show host — interviewed Cummings the other day to get his side of the story. One liberal would “interview” another liberal.

Meanwhile, Issa was making the rounds on the Fox News Channel to give his version of events. Conservatives were “interviewing” a conservative.


My strong preference would be for Cummings to talk to the Fox guys and Issa to talk to the MSNBC guys. Let the liberal news/commentary network get the other side’s version of a controversy and have the conservative network get the liberal’s version of events.

That’s one way to define — if I can borrow a phrase — a “fair and balanced” approach to journalism.

Issa misuses immense power

My reading of the controversy over U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa’s recent behavior at a key House committee meeting is fairly straightforward.

The chairman misbehaved … badly.

He needs to be called down for his treatment of a senior member of his committee. What’s more, he needs to be called down for the interminable hearings he keeps conducting on matters that do not rise to the level of importance he’s attaching to them.

I refer to the IRS and Benghazi controversies.

This week he shut down the microphone of Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland as Cummings was trying to speak publicly about the IRS matter involving the tax agency’s vetting of conservative political action groups’ tax-exempt status. Democrats call it a witch hunt; Republicans say the IRS might have acted on orders from the White House. Except that independent analyses have determined the White House wasn’t involved.

Issa chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It doesn’t control much tax money. It isn’t by definition a “sexy” committee. Its role is to probe government functions and to ensure that government agencies are working efficiently.

This particular committee once operated under the name of Government Operations Committee, which was chaired for many years by my former congressman, the late Jack Brooks, a tough-as-nails Beaumont Democrat. Brooks was as partisan and mean as anyone I’ve ever known, but he didn’t send his committee on witch hunts looking scandals involving Republicans where none existed.

By my reckoning, Issa is misusing the immense power of his committee. He keeps calling IRS officials before his panel to ask them questions they’ve already answered, or have fallen back on their Fifth Amendment protections against possible self-incrimination. He’s spending a ton of public money on these investigations, about $14 million to date.

He’s also got his sights set on the Benghazi matter, the firefight that in September 2011 resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Issa alleges that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton covered up what she knew and when she knew it. Government probes have determined there was fault in the way the State Department handled the crisis, but there is no evidence of a deliberate cover-up. Issa persists nonetheless.

The matter with Rep. Cummings is just one more example of the manner in which Issa is abusing the power of the gavel. He did apologize — more or less — to Cummings for cutting off his mic. Then he went on TV to portray Cummings’s outburst as a staged event.

Democrats sought a resolution to punish Issa. The GOP-controlled House, to no one’s surprise, shot it down.

There’s good news, though, in all of this. Issa’s term as chairman of this panel expires at the end of the year. I’m hoping he won’t do any more damage to the cause of “government reform” before he hands the gavel over to someone else.

Congressional dust-up ends with apology

That was a brief tempest on Capitol Hill.

What figured to be a festering sore on Congress has ended with an apology from the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee to the panel’s ranking minority member.

Now, let’s all get along, shall we?


Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., had the turned the microphone off while ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., had sought to “question” Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official who had taken the Fifth while refusing to answer questions relating to the IRS political action committee investigation controversy that just won’t go away. Seems that congressional Republicans continue to smell blood in the water and want to make hay whenever possible.


Issa disrespected Cummings by turning off the mic and then walking out of the hearing room while Cummings was expressing his anger at the way he was being treated.

The House of Representatives the next day rejected a resolution to condemn Issa for his boorishness.

Issa then called Cummings and apologized. Issa said, “As chairman, I should have been much more sensitive to the mood of what was going on, and I take responsibility.” Cummings accepted the apology. Both men said they want to move on.

One way to put this issue behind them — and us — is to stop the incessant questioning of officials when they know they won’t get any answers to a controversy that’s been covered to the nth degree. Issa still appears to be looking for any White House involvement in what’s been determined to have been an IRS field office decision to probe conservative PACs closely in their request for tax-exempt status. Let’s also note that the IRS has done the same thing to liberal PACs.

Cummings was angry at the badgering.

Issa was gentleman enough to apologize.

So, guys, let’s get on with the business of governing.