Corporate media pats itself on the back for ‘solidarity’ in White House press briefing yet ignores progressive question

THE ISSUE

The majority of the corporate media may well be ‘anti-Trump’ but they also take care to make sure progressive issues are at best, ignored or at worst, belittled.

THE MEDIA

Clip by Lawrence O’Donnell in YouTube on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

“…the most perfect of White House press corps teamwork unfolded…”

THE COMMENT

It’s hard to disagree with Lawrence O’Donnell and for the most part I enjoy his MSNBC show The Last Word, particularly in the Trump era.  But much like news coverage by the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, you often have to ask yourself if they are always covering a given topic to its fullest and consider what is being left out.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ press briefings are always contentious occasions, but yesterday’s was always going to be even more so given all that happened surrounding Trump’s Monday meeting with Russian despot/president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and its aftermath.

Of course Lawrence is right when he points out in the above clip that it was nice to see NBC’s Halle Jackson and The Hill’s Jordan Fabian working together to prevent ‘SHuckS’ (why isn’t everybody calling her that????) from dodging important questions, having seen the entire briefing I think it would have been prudent for him to also mention what happened regarding April Ryan from the American Urban Radio Network.

Ryan and SHuckS have had several heated exchanges in the past and on this occasion, I thought her question was not only relevant but also one that was unlikely to have been asked by her fellow journalists in this session.

In her defence of the president’s approach to election security, SHuckS listed a range of measures she claims has been taken by the Trump administration.  Ryan wanted to know if voter suppression, in other words actions taken by mostly Republican state legislatures around the country, was also on the list.

At first, her question was completely ignored.  To be fair, Ryan was eventually allowed to ask it, yet while SHuckS offered some words in reply, none of them could really be considered a ‘straight answer’.

But this post is not about SHuckS, rather O’Donnell and the corporate media for which he works.  If there really was a general sense of teamwork among the White House press corps, then Ryan would have received the same help from her colleagues that Jackson did.

Ryan’s experience wasn’t completely ignored by the wider media.  Josh Feldman of Mediaite wrote of it in his piece : “April Ryan Confronts Sarah Sanders For Not Calling on Her in Briefing: ‘I’ll Keep Asking the Question’” while a more conservative slant was put on it in “April Ryan keeps interrupting Sarah Sanders – Sarah finally loses it” by the Daily Caller’s Benny johnson.

But with Trump finding new creative ways to shoe horn himself into the headlines every day, I can’t see the very real issue of voter suppression coming even close to the mainstream again any time soon.  JLP

#IANWAE

 

Peter Strzok hearing has Republicans struggling to stick to party narrative away from Fox News safe haven

THE ISSUE

Republican lawmakers are determined to use cherry-picked private text messages by FBI agent Peter Strzok to ‘prove’ the Mueller investigation is biased, and after months and months of analysing the texts on Fox News, he finally had the chance to speak for himself in front of the American people yesterday.

THE MEDIA

Clip by CNN in YouTube on Thursday, July 12, 2018

GOP Congressman Chris Collins : “Peter Strzok and Lisa Page…are a stain on the FBI…”

[Cuomo goes to his whiteboard and demonstrated there is no evidence of Strzok ever acting on this perceived bias]

Collins : “…the bias speaks for itself, again, he and Lisa Page are a stain on the FBI’s reputation…”

 

THE COMMENT

Forget Love Island or the Kardashians…THIS was what I call ‘Reality Television” in that it was entertaining, it was actually happening and most importantly, it actually mattered.  

“In the Majority (Republican)’s view, the text messages exchanged between Mr. Strzok and Lisa Page are a higher priority for us than President Trump’s request that James Comey end the investigation into Michael Flynn, or his decision to fire Director Comey “because of that Russia thing with Trump and Russia,” or his repeated attempts to fire Special Counsel Mueller directly.”

Congressman Jerrod Nadler, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, lays out his party’s position very well in his opening statement at yesterday’s hearing.  And while I don’t always agree with the Democrat position, in this matter. namely the witch hunt on Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, they are doing a great job of laying bare the blatant misinformation and bullying tactics being used by their political opponents.

I only got to see the first hour of the hearing as it happened but even then it was most enlightening, and what is so significant about the proceedings is that it is the first time the agent has actually been able to publicly put forward his own defence of his text messages.

Looking at this with a rational eye, the conclusion is simple.  He is entitled to his viewpoint, he was stupid to express it on an FBI device but even given that, there is no evidence that he was anything but impartial in carrying out his duty, though just to be absolutely sure, Mueller took him off the investigation the second he learned about the messages.  So why are we still here engaging in this political theatre months later?

There are a ton of clips from the actual hearing I could comment on but they are too numerous to mention.  From an entertainment standpoint, one of the best moments was when Democrat congresswomen Bonnie Watson from New Jersey asked Republican Louie Gohmert from Texas if he had “taken his medication” after he repeatedly called Strzok a liar and brought up the subject of the agent’s extra-marital affair [because as we all know, the president the GOP are so desperate to defend would never do such a thing].

Or from a misinformation standpoint, I could highlight Strzok’s response to ranking Republican Trey Gowdy who attacked him as if all the evidence of his mindset is contained in a specific series of tweets, which he proceeded to literally examine word for word.  The FBI’s agent answer (when the congressman finally stopped interrupting him) got a round of applause in the chamber, albeit from the Democrats.

But for me, the most telling soundbite comes from Congressman Chris Collins (R-New York) who appeared on Chris Cuomo’s Prime Time show on CNN.  Cuomo seems to want to make the whiteboard his trademark, and to be fair he uses it well in this clip, and as you can see from the quote chosen above, when he uses it to press Collins, all he can do is go back to the talking point he was obviously given when he plugged himself into the GOP/Fox News ‘Matrix’ prior to the interview.

Of course Trump supporters (the select few who don’t simply go by his tweets and rallies that is) won’t have been watching Cuomo’s show – instead gorging themselves on the Fox News spin like they always do.  Still, for those of us who crave as much real information as possible, yesterday’s hearing offered us plenty.  I’d even go as far to say it was more entertaining than the World Cup, and for me, that’s saying something.  JLP

#IANWAE

Fox News evalutates the opinions of all American students on SCOTUS pick by interviewing five of them

THE ISSUE

Fox News might as well be renamed TrumpTV.

THE MEDIA

Clip by Fox News in YouTube on July 8, 2018

“Every person I spoke to all assumed Trump was going to pick a man.”

THE COMMENT

This clip is Fox News at its best.  Well, I really should say ‘worst’ but since they get such good ratings I suppose you could spin it as a positive.

In what is quite possibly the most unscientific vox pop ever put on the airwaves, a young guy goes on the streets of New York (probably not far from Fox News studio) and clearly gets the answers he wants from random people, with the ‘Students hate the SCOTUS pick that Trump hasn’t made yet’ narrative more than likely determined before he ever set foot on the sidewalk.

The premise of the narrative, of course, is highly disingenuous.  It is widely known that the shortlist for Trump’s Supreme Court choice was taken from a longer list drawn up by the ultra conservative Federalist Society (think Iona Institute and you’re in the ballpark) so no matter which judge Trump goes for, anyone of a progressive or ‘liberal’ mindset would be inclined to oppose the nomination.  For example, there isn’t a single judge on that list which would fail the ‘I will help abolish Roe vs Wade’ litmus test.

But why ruin a good narrative with the facts?  The already-brainwashed Fox News viewership don’t need much of a push to support the stereotype they have already been fed of ‘students’.  Once the answers from the vox-pop are selectively chosen and they spend more time in the studio mansplaining the responses than actually airing them (assuming the overall sample was actually bigger than the one they put on air that is), it only takes a clip of less than three minutes to get the ‘job’ done.

As I always say about entities like Fox News, it’s not its existence that is downright scary, it’s the fact that so many people actually believe content that is so blatantly skewed towards the Republican agenda.  And it has only gotten more blatant under this president.  JLP

#IANWAE

Notes from Dáil Leaders’ Questions – Wed July 4, 2018

Dail LQ notes

Intro

Leaders’ Questions is arguably the most important weekly event in Irish politics, as the government must give answers on various topics to the opposition parties on live TV.  However, as it is held on a Wednesday just before lunchtime, its effects on the national political discourse is minimal. Unfortunately we’re far more prepared for discussions on sports, soaps and reality shows than we are political issues.

In this new series on FPP we’ll be taking notes throughout both the Dáil session and RTÉ’s coverage, with much paraphrasing of course…

Pre-game

Host – Sharon Ni Bheolain

Panel

John Brady SF
Elaine Loughlin – Irish Examiner
Michael Lehane – RTE pol corr

Varadkar went to US and put his foot in it

ML – “At very best it’s immature”

EL – difference between a ‘gaffe’ and remarks at closed door meeting

JB – Definitely not a gaffe, the spin that it was private doesnt wash, he’s in ‘serious trouble’ and needs to make a statement and we also need to know who was at the meeting

SNB – He claims the remarks were taken out of context

ML – This is a gift to his opposition

Leaders’ questions

Note – text is paraphrase not transcript

Micheal Martin – Govt said homelessness won’t develop.  Children’s Right Alliance has released report on homelessness in children, CEO Tanya Ward “Children who are homeless lose out on every aspect of their education…”  There should have been urgent response from govt but initiatives see targets missed. Housing schemes including so-called ‘Rapid Build’ taking too long. Why the lack of urgency and have these children been failed?

Leo Varadkar – I can assure you there is no denial of the challenge we face as a result of the housing crisis and family homelessness, we are very determined to do all we can to alleviate it.  Don’t forget 7 year period with no houses built because of no money and no private investment. (Blaming Fianna Fáil). There has been some success, like rent control, amount in emergency accommodation is levelling off, we’re moving away from hotels and B&Bs, rough sleeping is down, and underlying problem of low housing supply is seeing an uptick.  

MM – You’re wrong in terms of the backdrop that you’ve suggested.  There have been numerous announcements, but poor delivery of all that has been promised (has figures to back him up). Why the failure to deliver? We’ve too much spin over substance.

LV – Let’s leave aside announcements for the moment (laughter in chamber) I came off plane at 1:30am this morning (‘awwww’ from chamber) let’s talk about delivery and facts (has more figures to back up his argument)

Mary Lou McDonald – Failte ar ais.  I want to raise with you the comments you made in New York.  It was meant to be private event but it seems to have been paid for by the Irish taxpayer.  You say you are in sympathy with Trump saying media have no interest in the truth. You have attacked Irish investigative journalism, programmes that have exposed scandals, hospital waiting lists, failing to protect children in care, housing policy, etc.  Time and again citizens have had to use the media to get the ear of the govt. If you were genuinely interested in the media you might have been more concerned in media ownership like Denis O’Brien. Had you said that, you would have had broad agreement. But you’re not interested in that, you simply wanted to have a go.  Can you tell us who was at this lunch? Is there a record? What else was discussed? Did you comment on other aspects of Irish society?

LV : Thank you for giving me opportunity to clear this matter.  I believe in the free press, very important to democracy. (CC shouts down hecklers)  I always try to be as accessible as I can be. I profoundly regret if anyone thinks I don’t support the media, but it can’t be beyond reproach.  This was a private event, I wanted to sit down with young Irish people living in NY, I’d like to be able to respect the privacy, we discussed everything from Brexit to the UN to Russia.  There was no speech it was more of a discussion. I did say positive things about the media like the #MeToo movement. None of that positivity was reported. My only reference to RTE (Mission To Pray) was when someone challenged me and I alluded to one particular broadcast.

MLM – That account  directly contradicts reports from those at the events.  You accused media of trivialising matters, chasing tittle tattle instead of important issues.  Here’s the problem, it’s your word against theirs. What about the issue of media ownership? You chose not to address that.  Did you mention other aspects of Irish society?

LV – I was actually there so I know what transpired, you can believe any information you want. The issue of media ownership didn’t come up if it had Id have addressed it as I have several times here in the Dáil.

Thomas Pringle – Your cosy relationship with FF has caused ‘anti-rule’ that has impacted my constituency in Donegal.  I’m talking about local small businesses that are largely left outside govt support. Measuring the health of this sector is vital, I carried out a survey which confirmed my suspicion that govt doesnt care about rural economy.  I raised this with Minister for Small Business who said issue is addressed but it isn’t. Please don’t quote me unemployment figures, emigration has helped that, not growth. Your policies have ensured that depopulisation has become the trend.  Tell me how you

LV – I appreciate that unemployment falls for different reasons, but I disagree that emigration is the reason.  My government appreciates the importance of small business all over the country, especially in rural areas. We have reduced the VAT rate from 14.5 to 13% and that has helped.  Parties on the left want to increase that which would harm these businesses. There have been huge increases in tourism which has helped areas like Donegal. Project Ireland 2040 will mean huge investment in all areas, infrastructure, broadband, etc.

TP – You haven’t mentioned anything the people of Donegal have mentioned like closure of post offices etc.  The VAT rate has been lowered all through the time of this decline. People say they haven’t heard about initiative and response from government and none of them have been asked, maybe you don’t want to hear the answers

LV – I’m glad that you acknowledge that FG is the party of small business, our TDs spend a lot of time at local chamber of commerce meetings.  I have figures to show employment figures in Donegal on the rise. (to supposedly prove that emigration not a problem)

Noel Grealish (RIG) – as we head to summer and budget preparations, people of middle Ireland find life is a constant trouble, the ‘squeezed middle’ get the leaqst amount of help from the STate.  These are the people who go to work early, but they are getting nothing back, Rents, fuel, child care, medical, electricity costs going up. They get no grants, no state benefit. They are being ignored by the govt which has most of its focus on certain aspects of Irish society.  Once an Irish worker earns 34k they pay half of everything above that in taxes, it’s building a problem for the future. Some progress was made in last year’s budget I concede, how are you going to look after the people of middle Ireland in October that will make a difference?

[RTE cut to studio]

Post game

SNB and ML basically re-hash MM’s point

SNB puts LV’s facts to EL

EL : Taoiseach acknowledged slow down in house building (though he was actually blaming FF)

SNB to JB – What about argument that it wasnt this govt that caused the bank crash

JB – There’s a housing crisis and what we see now is that the govt is trying to pass the blame.  This is a squabble that is between two parties that are essentially in government together.

SNB – It’s easy to say that from the SF benches?  You had an opportunity to be involved in govt but you chose not to

JB – We’re constantly putting forward suggestions, this is thrown up time and time again…FF and FG have said they wont go into govt with us

ML – after last election, SF changed their position saying they would only go into govt as lead party meaning it wasnt at table

SNB – Mr Trump wasnt mentioned in SF comments?

EL – repeats LV’s answer to MLM (why do that?  Sure we all heard it?)

JB – LV is clearly trying to spin his way out of this, and he glossed over the ownership question.  We need more clarity on who was at that meeting.

ML – I think LV is sticking to his guns….his apology is more of a non-apology….there is clearly some niggle there.

SNB – I only have 30 seconds for Thomas Pringle

EL – FG mantra ‘keep the recovery going’ mantra not washing in rural areas

JB – Income tax cuts helping is a myth, a lot of issues for govt to address

FPP comment

My core issues with this broadcast remain, in that there’s no need for two from RTE in the studio, nor should there be someone from a party that is already asking a question in the Dáil.  The aim should be to spread the representation around the other points of view of the parties and technical groups IMO. Plus, even without the current heatwave, I don’t see the logic in having this session at midday on a Wednesday other than out of a motivation to make sure nobody is watching.

But here, there was an added problem.  Deputy Grealish went to great lengths to ask a valid question, and then they cut to studio?????  I mean, I know it’s called ‘Leader’s Questions’ but shouldn’t that also mean we get to hear the answers as well???

And it’s not like there weren’t alternatives for them…they have their RTÉ News Now and easily could have kept the coverage going over there.  Or, they could have informed viewers that the Dáil session was being covered on the Oireachtas TV channel.

On the substance, well, the Varadkar/Martin exchanges are tedious to say the least.  It’s like they are manufacturing topics on which they can argue back and forth endlessly to put viewers to sleep.  While Martin made it sound like he is extremely concerned about child homelessness, both he and the Taoiseach seemed more interested in scoring Civil War political points.  It was pretty pathetic.

I may not be a fan of Sinn Féin but I have to say MLM’s wording of her question was impressive, cleverly working the name Denis O’Brien into the discussion, though Varadkar danced around it in both of his responses.

You had to feel for Thomas Pringle – no doubt he works tirelessly for his constituents but when it comes to standing up and speaking in the Dáil he appeared extremely uncomfortable in the chamber.  He didn’t take long to post his reaction to the answers he received on his webpage it was up within a matter of hours

“The Taoiseach was unable to respond directly to my question because he knew he had no sufficient answer as to why support has been so lacking in this sector. Instead he talked about employment levels and other unrelated aspects of Fine Gael policy.

“His reply confirmed the deeply held suspicions of current Government policy, which is simply that Fine Gael don’t care about rural Ireland”

As for Deputy Grealish, nothing about his questions on social media at the time of posting I will update when something becomes available.

One final point…strange there was absolutely no mention of water shortages or the heatwave.  Maybe that more than anything else illustrates their assumption that nobody was watching.  JLP

#IANWAE

Ironic Trump typo illustrates how he has his base of supporters under his ‘spell’

THE ISSUE

Tweeting and slagging off the so-called ‘Fake News media’ are two of Trump’s favourite pastimes, or tactics depending on how you look at it.

THE MEDIA

Article by Judah Taylor in Politico on july 4, 2018

Pore or pour? Trump tweet corrects example of poor spelling.

“Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill added: “You misspelled ‘ghostwritten’. Also, ‘pore’ #PitifulPridefulPOTUS.”

THE COMMENT

How many times have we said about Trump ‘you couldn’t make it up’?  Thankfully for once this is one of those stoies we can actually laugh at because it doesn’t directly involved people’s lives being affected.

trump pore pour

Being Trump-obsessed as I am, I get a notification whenever he tweets, so I saw this one moments after it was sent from his tweetphone.  O how I laughed when I saw he could get through the sentence ‘the Fake News constantly likes to pour over my tweets looking for a mistake” without making a mistake!!!

As you can see from the article in Politico, many are also focusing on his glossing over of the fact that most of his books were ghostwritten, but I’d like to hone in on the irony of the mis-spelling.

Sure, we’re all having a laugh at pore not pour.  Especially in this context, it’s pretty funny.  But we must also remember that this laughter is fuel to the fire of the anger of his base.  Many of them don’t necessarily support him for his own views, they do because they love to piss off so-called ‘Liberal elites’.

As long as they think they are perceived as ‘stupid’ (and less face it Hillary’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ certainly didn’t help that) it will be nigh on impossible to convince them that a Progressive approach to government is one that will benefit them way more than Trump’s.

Which means the louder we guffaw at his gaffes, the more solidified his base becomes.  And it’s really, really, REALLY hard not to laugh.  You feel like those Roman soldiers in the Life of Brian when Julius Caesar says ‘Biggus Dickus’.

Hopefully one day we’ll find a way to make them see the funny side and take our message seriously.  JLP

#IANWAE

Have the Republicans stolen another Supreme Court seat?

THE ISSUE

The resignation during the past week of SCOTUS justice Anthony Kennedy allows President Trump to appoint a young, healthy, cons replacement who could guarantee pro-corporate and anti-sivil rights rulings for decades to come.

THE MEDIA

Article by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman in New York Times on June 28, 2018

Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening

As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin.

THE COMMENT

A popular refrain whenever a new revelation emerges about ConManDon is : “What would he be saying if Obama did the same thing?”  This could be the most important one of all.

To my question in the title, ‘another’ refers to the fact that when Justice Scalia passed away in February 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote on confirming Obama’s pick as successor on the grounds that it was ‘too close to the election and the American people should decide’.  While this decision certainly did not break any laws, norms or protocols, it certainly established a new one.

Yet despite the fact that Kennedy has resigned much closer to a big election, namely the Midterms, it seems that Senator McConnell is suddenly much less concerned about whether or not the American people should weigh in.  Trump plans to have Kennedy’s successor nominated by the end of the week.

As you can see by the NYT article, there is much evidence that the Trump administration has gone to great lengths to prepare for Kennedy’s resignation, like rewarding all the justice’s clerks with appointments to district courts, and indeed two of his most favoured clerks are front runners to succeed him.

But of all the revelations in the article, the one that takes the biscuit is the fact that Kennedy’s son runs a division of the only bank that would loan money to Trump for property deals after he was turned down by other financial institutions due to his many failed business practices.

Oh and did I mention that Deutsche Bank is considered to be one of the ‘go-to’ banks for Russian oligarchs for money-laundering?

But of course it’s the ‘Failing New York Times’ after all, so I must be all ‘Fake News’.  To be fair though, the article itself doesn’t suggest that any seat has been ‘stolen’, those words are mine.  I still stand by them though.  JLP

#IANWAE

Opening statements at US House Judiciary Committee Hearing clearly lay out Trump v ‘Sane People’ nature of political discourse

THE ISSUE

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are insisting that the FBI and Department of Justice hand over documents relating to the Mueller  probe into Russian meddling in US elections, knowing full well it can’t be done because it would mean essentially handing over evidence to Trump who is himself being investigated.  Yet despite knowing this, they still they choose to make it look as though they are hiding something so it can be used as a pretext for the President to end the investigation.

THE MEDIA

Clip by PBS News in YouTube on June 28, 2018

“…have we conducted any oversight at all on election security; on the family separation crisis; on the Administration’s failure to protect Dreamers; on the Justice Department’s radical decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act; on the Supreme Court’s recent decisions to undermine voting rights and workers’ rights; on the President’s ongoing conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments Clause; or on the myriad other pressing issues within our Committee’s jurisdiction?

No, as with so many issues, this Committee has stayed silent.”

“But on Hillary Clinton’s emails? Sound the alarms.

THE COMMENT

All the headlines from this committee hearing came from the aggressive grilling of Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Direct Christopher Wray by Republican congressmen Trey Gowdy and Jim Jordan, and it’s true, the exchanges were far more compelling viewing than anything going on in the World Cup at the same time (and I normally like soccer).

For me the most illuminating exchange came in the opening remarks.  Sure, it wouldn’t make the ‘news cycle’ because that is what all the shouting from Gowdy and Jordan was for, but it was in the opening statements by the ranking members of the two main US parties [House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Congressman Jerrold Nadler] that the real differences between the two parties’ attitudes towards the Mueller investigation can be seen.

Just as a reminder, I’m not a 100% loyal Democrat supporter and I certainly wouldn’t automatically agree with everything said by their so-called leadership, but the contrast between the two statements lays bare the sheer mental gymnastics, assuming there are any mental faculties being used at all, required to accept the Republican party line.

Both statements are in the YouTube clip but I have also cpoy/pasted them below.  JLP

#IANWAE

GOODLATTE STATEMENT:

The Church Committee was established on a bipartisan basis and chaired by Democratic Senator Frank Church in 1975 to review CIA, FBI, and NSA surveillance abuses, including the improper surveillance of an American icon, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other prominent individuals. The Committee also conducted a review of the insidious monitoring of political activities of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. The Church Committee’s findings resulted in passage three years later of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA attempts to balance the need for secrecy in conducting surveillance against foreign agents with the protection of Americans’ time-honored civil liberties.

This history shows we have already found ourselves, once before, in a situation where the FBI and other intelligence agencies violated their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. In monitoring citizens’ political activity, the agencies exercised their responsibilities in a manner unworthy of U.S. officials. The abuses of that bygone era, and really of any era, often happen because of power – power to influence political currents, power to collect sensitive information, and power to wield surveillance tools in improper ways to achieve improper purposes. That power can and has been abused in the past, by individuals at the highest and lowest levels of our government.

Fortunately, the power of our intelligence agencies is overwhelmingly used to protect us from those wishing to do our country harm. That is the conundrum. We need our intelligence agencies to have the necessary tools and techniques to safeguard our nation, and we have to be constantly vigilant to ensure these tools are not manipulated by unscrupulous actors.

The recent Inspector General’s report revealed bias in the top echelons of the FBI during a hotly-contested presidential election. It revealed that FBI agents, lawyers, and analysts held profound biases against then-candidate Donald Trump and in favor of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. While those on the other side of the aisle continue to exclaim that these biases are only personal political predilections that had no effect on the operation of one of the biggest investigations in our nation’s history, I wonder whether these same Members would say the same if text messages had turned up to the tune of “Hillary is a disaster,” or “We’ll stop” her, or cursing her with all manner of expletives, or smugly stating that particular parts of the country “smell of Hillary supporters.”

These types of comments were originating from people who were the fact-finders in the investigation. These profoundly inappropriate comments were coming from the individuals who were making decisions on whether to provide immunity to people who had already lied to investigators, and whether subjects of an investigation could sit in on interviews with other subjects of the same investigation. These were individuals who were plainly in positions of great power with the opportunity to place greater, lesser, or even no emphasis on certain facts or interpretations of law. These actions led to complete legal exoneration of everyone involved in sending Top Secret emails over personal servers and unsecured emails- and setting up a server for the explicit purpose of doing this. These actions even led to exposing at least one classified email to a foreign party that risked serious damage to our national security. Amazingly, considering their overwhelming biases, these people were also the very same people who were assigned to investigate the man that they hated: then-candidate Donald Trump.

My reference to the Church Committee is apropos because it not only reviewed abuses by individuals, including the FBI Director himself, but focused in on surveillance abuses. Here, we now face the same allegations, yet in manner that goes to the heart of our democracy. It is right out of a novel with salacious, unverified dossiers, reports of informants that appear more like spies for the U.S. government, and application of the aforementioned surveillance powers to collect on a U.S. person once associated with President Trump’s political campaign. But it’s not a novel; it is real life and we are here today to understand a little bit more about why we now must review how our intelligence and law enforcement agencies engaged in activity that appears not only wrong, but potentially illegal.

All of which brings me to this body’s Constitutional oversight mandate and responsibilities. Our responsibility to the American people is to conduct robust oversight of agencies within this Committee’s jurisdiction, to ensure that taxpayer-funded agencies operate lawfully. Our oversight, though, is only as good as the information we are provided. This Committee’s oversight has been hampered by both the FBI and DOJ’s lack of consistent and vigorous production of the documents we need to hold the agencies accountable. While this production has significantly improved recently, it has felt like pulling teeth much of the time to obtain and review relevant documents. Moreover, we just recently learned that some documents the Inspector General received to conduct his investigation of the 2016 election have been interpreted by the Department of Justice to fall outside the first subpoena I ever issued as Chairman of this Committee. Shockingly, emails and communications of DOJ officials have not been produced at all. Therefore, we have not received any emails between prosecutors working the Clinton case.

Said differently, we are not receiving and have not received potentially enlightening communications between prosecutors themselves, between prosecutors and DOJ management including former Attorney General Lynch, or even communications between DOJ officials and those with the Obama White House. This is unacceptable, particularly when we had long before issuing the subpoena requested all documents provided to the Inspector General other than certain ones pertaining to grand jury material.

The Department of Justice and the FBI are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The President and Congress are. Our Constitutional oversight necessitates that institutions like the FBI and DOJ yield to Congress’ constitutional mandate. This is non-negotiable because we must assure the American people that the agencies under our jurisdiction operate fairly, treating all equally under the law.

This hearing emphasizes the importance of transparency in helping to regain both the perception and reality of impartiality of our law enforcement system. Damage to the FBI and DOJ’s reputations is not something any of us desire. But now that both agencies have been on the front pages for so long, we must all work to ensure that those stories are able to focus once again on the great men and women performing admirable and often heroic jobs to protect our country.

We expect to hear today how the FBI and DOJ will hold people accountable and prevent this from happening again. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from both Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Director Wray.

NADLER STATEMENT : 

“Mr. Chairman, the events that have led up to this hearing are totally unacceptable.

“On Monday of this week, you notified us of this hearing without the seven-day notice required by the rules.

“On Tuesday, you started our Committee markup more than an hour late, without notice to the Minority. Then you allowed Mr. Jordan to offer an amendment to a resolution of inquiry that was patently non-germane—and then you stood out of view of the cameras, in the hallway just off the hearing room, while the Majority voted to overturn the ruling of their own Chair that the amendment was not germane.

“On Wednesday, you dropped all Committee business to interview Peter Strzok, who had already volunteered to come in for an interview before you threatened him with a subpoena.

“Today, we meet so that the Majority can criticize the Deputy Attorney General to his face, largely about documents that you know he cannot produce. We will take a break so that we can go to the floor and vote on a so-called “resolution of insistence” based on the Jordan amendment from earlier this week—a measure that is without precedent, without the force of law, and clearly a pretext for a move against Mr. Rosenstein that the Majority already has planned.

“And what is the great emergency that justifies this last-minute hearing? Why has the Majority abandoned the rules and traditions that govern civility in the House? The tired story of Hillary Clinton’s emails, of course, plus a few conspiracy theories about the Special Counsel.

“When President Trump and his Administration were actively separating families at the border—ripping children out of the arms of their parents, and causing untold suffering to thousands of families—that did not merit an emergency hearing.

“And now that thousands of children are still separated from their parents, with no clear plan from this Administration for reuniting these families, where is the emergency hearing on that issue?

“We know that Russia, after successfully interfering with the 2016 elections, is actively working to disrupt the upcoming elections as well. The former National Security Advisor testified that our intelligence agencies have received no instructions from the White House to protect the integrity of our election system. Have we scheduled an emergency hearing on that issue?

“For that matter, have we conducted any oversight at all on election security; on the family separation crisis; on the Administration’s failure to protect Dreamers; on the Justice Department’s radical decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act; on the Supreme Court’s recent decisions to undermine voting rights and workers’ rights; on the President’s ongoing conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments Clause; or on the myriad other pressing issues within our Committee’s jurisdiction? No, as with so many issues, this Committee has stayed silent.

“But on Hillary Clinton’s emails? Sound the alarms.

“Despite an Inspector General’s report that, in more than 500 exhaustive pages, demonstrates conclusively that the outcome of the Clinton investigation was not affected by any improper bias, political or otherwise, we are wasting precious Committee time to chase Hillary Clinton.

“The Republicans seems desperate to prove that there was some sort of pro-Clinton and anti-Trump conspiracy within the FBI when, in fact, the overwhelming evidence shows exactly the opposite. Virtually every action criticized in the Inspector General’s report—Director Comey’s July announcement, his disparate treatment of the Clinton and Trump investigations, and his October decision to announce the discovery of additional emails—ultimately harmed the candidacy of Secretary Clinton, and inured to the benefit of Donald Trump.

“But I guess we shouldn’t let facts stand in the way of a good manufactured emergency.

“According to the Republican memo for today’s hearing, today is also an opportunity for Members to consider “the Justice Department’s compliance with the committee’s March 22 subpoena,” a subpoena that was not issued in compliance with House Rules and, therefore, cannot be enforced.

“Even if it were a properly issued subpoena, the fight over document production seems to have boiled down to certain documents that the Republicans know the Department of Justice cannot turn over—much of it evidence related to an ongoing criminal investigation, the scoping documents outlining specific lines of inquiry in an ongoing criminal investigation, and the identities of confidential human sources still working undercover in the field.

“And that, of course, is the whole point. As part of their coordinated and determined effort to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation, Republicans are requesting documents they know they cannot have.

“If they somehow find themselves in possession of sensitive documents that go to the core of the Special Counsel’s investigation, and if past practice holds, those documents will end up in the possession of the subject of the investigation—namely, President Trump.

“And if the Majority is rightly denied, they will do their best to undermine the credibility of the Department of Justice, the credibility of the Deputy Attorney General—and, by extension, the credibility of the Special Counsel.

“They will likely try to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt. Some have even threatened him with impeachment. They may argue that he must be removed his oversight role over the Special Counsel’s investigation.

“This is an investigation, I might remind my Republican colleagues, that has already yielded five guilty pleas, and that has led to the indictment of 20 people so far. The President and some of his closest advisors are under investigation for having participated in a criminal conspiracy with a foreign power against the United States.

“That is an emergency.

“The President practically confessed to Lester Holt on television that he obstructed the investigation into that conspiracy when he said that he fired former FBI Director Comey because of “this Russia stuff, with Trump and Russia.”

“That is an emergency.

“But is that the subject of today’s emergency hearing? No. Or of any emergency hearing? No it is not.

“I know that this has been a hard week for the Majority. I know that it must be tempting to change the subject and rally the base with cries of “lock her up!”

“But we do not have the luxury of hiding or voting present at this critical juncture in our democracy.

“We cannot hide from our responsibilities. We cannot hide from our obligation to conduct oversight of a corrupt Administration. We cannot hide from our constitutional duty to protect our elections from foreign interference, or to stand up for the rules, and for our democratic institutions, and for the rule of law.

“I ask my colleagues to consider this question as we proceed: when the Special Counsel’s work is complete, when the enormity of what he finds has been laid bare, how will the American people judge your actions today?

“I yield back the balance of my time.”