He’s leaving. He doesn’t care.
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz has already handed over his House Oversight Committee responsibilities to Rep. Trey Gowdy, so he is a man on short time, with nothing to lose. He’s the most free man in Congress and he knows it.
Speaking in a weekend interview with Sharyl Attkisson, Chaffetz expressed some frustration with the Trump administration.
Namely, as it pertains to cooperation and transparency, a changing of the guards in the Department of Justice really hasn’t moved things forward.
Attkisson: “Some people might think this is a great time to be a Republican chairman of an important committee because Republicans control the House, they’re the majority in the Senate, and they hold the president’s office. That means, you would think, that federal agencies can’t stonewall investigations of spending, waste, fraud and abuse.”
Chaffetz: “The reality is, sadly, I don’t see much difference between the Trump administration and the Obama administration. I thought there would be this, these floodgates would open up with all the documents we wanted from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Pentagon. In many ways, it’s almost worse because we’re getting nothing, and that’s terribly frustrating and, with all due respect, the attorney general has not changed at all. I find him to be worse than what I saw with Loretta Lynch in terms of releasing documents and making things available. I just, that’s my experience, and that’s not what I expected.”
Worse than Loretta Lynch?
Yeah. That’s pretty awful.
And if you think it’s just the Russian probe, you’d be wrong.
Attkisson: “What were some of the investigations that this committee was stalled on that you hoped could be picked up now, that’s not been able to happen in terms of documents not provided by federal agencies?”
Chaffetz: “We have everything from the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which is really one of the critical things. There was the investigation into the IRS. And one that was more than seven years old is Fast and Furious. I mean, we have been in court trying to pry those documents out of the Department of Justice and still to this day, they will not give us those documents. And at the State Department, nothing. Stone-cold silence.”
I will be the first to admit that I don’t know what goes into moving these things forward, but it would seem that with a new administration, something could be done.
Maybe there’s more than just family concerns that have Chaffetz stepping down. In the interview, he seemed more than a little frustrated with how the D.C. machine operates.
Speaking of the IRS, why is John Koskinen still a thing?
Yes. The smug jerk who served as IRS commissioner while conservative groups were targeted under the Obama administration is still commissioner.
Attkisson: “Republicans were very upset in the last few years over the IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, who they said allowed destruction of documents and investigations and other things. This committee, I believe, even called for him to be impeached. He’s still IRS commissioner even though Republicans are now in charge of pretty much everything. Why is that?”
Chaffetz: “Now look, you have more than 50 Republicans pleading with President Trump to release him, um, to let him go, fire him. Uh, or at least encourage him to retire. No, he’s still there. No changes. Nobody was fired. Nobody was prosecuted. Nobody was held accountable. We tried to issue subpoenas, we tried to hold people in contempt and the Obama administration said no, and the Trump administration came in and did zero. Nothing. Nothing changed.”
So what’s the problem? Why are we not seeing Congress truly shake off the malaise of the Obama years, now that Republicans have control of House, Senate, and presidency?
Attkisson: “Just the way you describe it, it’s troubling. Is Congress broken?”
Chaffetz: “Congress doesn’t stand up for itself. I think it’s, it’s really lost its way. They say, oh, we’ll use the power of the purse. That doesn’t work. First of all, they never do cut funding. Even getting people to come up and testify before Congress, the Obama administration at the end of their term, they got so brazen they stopped sending people up. They just didn’t care. And, and there was no way to enforce that, and until that changes, uh, the legislative branch is going to get weaker and weaker.”
I actually have a new respect for Chaffetz’s decision to walk away. One person can only do so much when the entire system is pushing against them.