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Who Says House Oversight Isn’t Doing Its Job?

[ 101 ] February 17, 2017 |

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You might think that the presidency of the United States was enough of a prize for the EMAILS! faint echo of a scandal, but you can’t serve America a cyanide-and-shit omelet without breaking a lot of eggs:

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state.

To paraphrase Justice Harlan, straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel is the governing credo of House Republicans. I mean, the camel might have a bad weave job but it contains upper-class tax cuts.

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  1. howard says:

    I still make chaffetz the frontrunner in the coveted house member you most want to punch in the nose award sweepstakes.

  2. efgoldman says:

    Now that Sessions is AG, he can probably find a US attorney to do it, too.

    Christ what an asshole.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

      I don’t see why they’re messing around with a pawn when they can go after the queen. Indicting Hillary would satisfy the Trumpisitas.

      • Shakezula says:

        I’m sure the clever plan is to get him to cut a deal – tell them whatever they want to hear about Hitlery’s EVIL MACHINATIONS and he’ll go free.

        Also – EMAILS to distract the press from whatever the Cheeto-in-Chief is doing.

        • BiloSagdiyev says:

          Yes, I was wondering this week, they’re going to have to cook up one heckuva phoneybaloney distraction to get the media away from their newfound hobby of truth-telling. I was assuming it would be some small war.

          I still am, long term.

      • efgoldman says:

        I don’t see why they’re messing around with a pawn

        Speaking of which, another asshole committee heard from:

        Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office will not comply with a subpoena received Thursday from a congressional committee seeking documents in connection with her office’s investigation into Exxon Mobil Corp., Healey’s office said.

        The records are being pursued by Congressman Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which also previously issued Healey a subpoena in June.

        Healey’s office on Thursday evening reiterated that it does not intend to comply and maintained that the House committee has no jurisdiction over the state investigations into the oil company that began last spring.

        In April Healey along with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened a fraud investigation into Exxon about whether the company encouraged climate-change confusion for years after its own scientists established the risks.

        • Snarki, child of Loki says:

          “…and we’re also not turning over the records on the Lamar Smith goatfucking investigation” Healy should have added.

        • (((Malaclypse))) says:

          Healy is genuinely great.

        • BiloSagdiyev says:

          Egads. I hadn’t thought of that. I guess because I’m not wicked enough.

          An investigation into the global climate change hoax will justify itself for years, as they search and search but OMG how deep does it go?! How did these evil, plotting, rootless academics (dogwhistle) hide the proof of their nefarious scheme so well? Still no proof of what we know they did! WE NEED MORE SUBPEONAS! More kangaroo court hearings!

          • BigHank53 says:

            “We just need to waterboard a few of these eggheads…”

            Don’t forget that torture really does work. Not for intelligence gathering, of course. But if you’re interested in false confessions and suppressing internal dissent…there’s a good reason it’s front and center in the authoritarian toolbox.

      • CP says:

        I don’t see why they’re messing around with a pawn when they can go after the queen.

        The same reason they went after Susan Rice for Benghazi, whose grand crime in the whole story was repeating the talking points that had been put in front of her by Petraeus. When you can’t go after someone because they’re too highly placed, you take it out on their subordinates. Basic rules of Official Washington.

      • njorl says:

        Hilary has the resources to defend herself from a pointless persecution. This guy might not. Faced with several years of expensive, baseless, legal harassment, he might choose to admit to some crime he didn’t commit. Then they have “evidence” of the “crime” Hilary is getting away with.

        • efgoldman says:

          How quickly do you suppose gofundme can raise a defense fund?
          They easily raised more than enough theoretically to buy back Toomey’s vote on DeVos. Didn’t work, but still…

  3. LosGatosCA says:

    Their goal is to exceed the combined record of the Iraq War and Katrina rebuilding oversight committees.

    This isn’t new, as Christopher Buckley said it’s not corruption, it’s just their way of saying ‘we’re open for business!’

  4. alexceres says:

    “Meat’s back on the menu boys!”

  5. Nick056 says:

    I’m glad the first comment on the WaPo article is expressing indignation at calling the email server a “home-brew server” which is so obviously meant to be derogatory it beggars belief WaPo would use it makes it practically mandatory.

  6. cpinva says:

    I expect Chaffetz is counting down the days until the 2018 elections, at which point even Utah voters may have finally had enough of his donothingness in congress. yes, would someone, anyone, please punch him in the face?

    • VCarlson says:

      “Donothingness?” Why, little Jason has been very busy finding Hillary surrogates to beset, federal lands to give away (or, failing that, put under local control), Planned Parenthood to defund, women to control, …

      From Congress.gov:

      Chaffetz sponsored or cosponsored bills

      H.R.1096 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      To amend title 31, United States Code, to provide for transparency of payments made from the Judgment Fund.

      2. H.R.1062 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      To amend title 18, United States Code, to specify the circumstances in which a person may acquire geolocation information and for other purposes.

      H.R.1061 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      To amend title 18, United States Code, to regulate the use of cell-site simulators, and for other purposes.

      H.R.1033 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      To amend titles 5 and 28, United States Code, to require the maintenance of databases on, awards of fees and other expenses to prevailing parties in certain administrative proceedings and court cases to which the United States is a party, and for other purposes.

      5. H.R.998 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      SCRUB Act (aka “Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome” Act

      H.R.899 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      To terminate the Department of Education.

      H.R.850 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Agency Accountability Act of 2017

      H.R.756 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

      H.R.732 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017

      H.R.720 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017

      H.R.702 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2017

      12. H.R.637 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017

      H.R.623 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2017

      14. H.R.622 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act

      H.R.621 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2017

      16. H.R.527 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Greater Sage Grouse Protection and Recovery Act of 2017

      17. H.R.522 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017

      18. H.R.422 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Default Prevention Act

      19. H.R.397 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Members of Congress Tax Accountability Act of 2017

      20. H.R.396 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Tax Accountability Act of 2017

      21. H.R.392 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017

      H.R.391 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017

      23. H.R.387 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Email Privacy Act

      24. H.R.367 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Hearing Protection Act of 2017

      25. H.R.354 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017

      H.R.298 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Transparency Act of 2017

      27. H.R.297 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Review Every Dollar Act of 2017

      28. H.R.296 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      PRO Sports Act

      29. H.R.184 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2017

      30. H.R.76 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2017

      31. H.R.41 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      POWERS Act of 2017

      32. H.R.26 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017

      33. H.R.24 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2017

      34. H.R.7 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)
      No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017

    • CaptainBringdown says:

      Evan McMuffin would have a good shot at taking him out in a primary.

  7. Asteroid_Strike_Brexit says:

    When checks and balances are truly required, they will not exist. Logically, by that time the rot will have spread so much that no effective check or balance can exist.

  8. Brett says:

    Chaffetz, man. I fucking hate that I live in this asshole’s district. There’s not much hope of getting his ass out the door in 2018, either, because the Utah Republican Party has dominated the state forever and they gerry-mander it up every time there’s a census. Chaffetz is in a super-safe district (there was a 47% absolute percentage margin between him and the Democrat), so the only way he’s going out the door is if he commits some conservative “heresy” and gets replaced by someone even more fanatically conservative and Trumpist – and he knows that for certain.

    Such a nice set of national representatives we have. Ted Cruz’s little Tea Party buddy Mike Lee, Orrin “I say I’ll retire but never will*” Hatch, fucking Chaffetz, Mia Love, Rob “Let’s Privatize Federal Lands!” Bishop, and the non-entity that is Chris Stewart (he’s basically Rob Bishop lite, but with one non-shitty thing he did with regards to Zika).

    * Maybe that’s for the best, though. I think the only reason Hatch wasn’t Tea Partied out of office like Bob Bennett was because people realized that might make it easier for Congress to shut down Hill Air Force Base.

    • kped says:

      Not a real point…but that’s not actually gerrymandered. When a party gerrymanders a state, they take a seat like Chaffetz won by 47%, and start breaking it up to help other more vulnerable party members. In the end, they are happier with a safe 55%-45% victory, or even a little smaller if they can spread out some of that love.

      (or, alternatively, it’s when they draw a ridiculous map to herd all of a states black people into one district covering the entire state so that they can blunt the force of the black vote….)

      • NeonTrotsky says:

        Honestly Utah is probably republican enough that you could probably gerrymander districts with a much larger margin for their representatives across the state if that makes sense.

  9. Taylor says:

    Can someone reconcile this Gestapo thug with someone who worked for Dukakis?

    The concentration camp kommandant who doesn’t hate Jews, it’s just a good career move?

  10. Up until today the biggest shit-stain on Earth says:

    Holy fuck what a shit stain.

    In for a penny, in for a pound. Eh, el Chaffy?

  11. Nathan Goldwag says:

    The only thing that will convince me of the existence of just and loving God after the last year is if Chaffetz is found having sex with a male prostitute in a Capitol bathroom, at which point it is discovered that the prostitute is a Russian spy who’s been exploiting the flaws in Chaffetz’s private email server to steal vital American information, at which point he is expelled from Congress, excommunicated from the Mormon Church, and imprisoned for a lengthy sentence. Amen.

  12. LeeEsq says:

    According to my Facebook feed, Republican congresspeople are refusing to do town halls because they don’t want to face angry voters. I guess loyalty is a political virtue that is underrated these days but it has limits. Nearly every American with a little bit of good sense is deeply worried and the Republicans need to do their job. Not that I’m expected them to.

    • Gregor Sansa says:

      To be fair: the angry voters in this case are the Democrats, who have found a strong voice even in red districts.

    • yet_another_lawyer says:

      To be honest, I don’t really get why politicians of any stripe do town halls, and I wondered much the same about Democrats during the run-up to the ACA being passed. The best case scenario is that you make a small positive impression with a tiny handful of voters. The worst case scenario is that things go wrong, your fuck-up becomes viral, and it haunts you for the rest of your political career. With each congressional district covering ~700,000 people and each Senator representing an entire state, the numbers just don’t work out. Much, much easier/better to have an “interview” with a friendly “journalist.”

      • Cheerfull says:

        It’s a problem of a democracy of 300 million people. All the usual, traditional levers of contacting your representative depend on not too many people attempting it. Congressional phone lines are jammed, and the implication they pay fairly little attention to emails. If 1% of the population consistently attempted to call or attend town halls the logistics get difficult fast.

        I admire Indivisible for trying to hack the democracy (using hack in a positive sense) but it looks like if you try to turn the handle too often it breaks off in your hand.

      • Bitter Scribe says:

        Agreed. It’s just hanging your chin out. Those town halls are nothing but an excuse for soreheads to vent.

      • efgoldman says:

        I don’t really get why politicians of any stripe do town halls

        Before Dick Armey astroturfed the TeaHadis in 2010, town halls were routine, quiet affairs, mostly for meet and greet and constituent services. A few dozen people, mostly in Hoverrounds, would show up to have a cup of coffee and shake hands with the congresscritter. Tell him what a fine job he was doing, maybe ask about an issue (my social security check is screwed up, and I can’t get anyone on the phone). Moatly harmless. Many members didn’t even have town meetings, just had office hours in their district for the same purpose.

  13. Gregor Sansa says:

    Erik’s post on the building trades got a wingnut pingback, and then disappeared.

    I would understand a desire not to fight a troll avalanche, if that’s what’s going on. But I wonder what the plan is to not let that silence us. I’m confident Erik is not cowering in fear, but I look forward to seeing the post return in some form.

  14. Crusty says:

    To entertain this nonsense for half a second, what could the guy possibly be indicted for? He set up an e-mail server at the behest of his boss? So the fuck what? How about we indict Hillary Clinton’s maid too, because e-mails!

    • liberal says:

      The Federal government does have some laws about records preservation, IT, etc, and it wouldn’t surprise me whatsoever that there’s an actual law that was broken.

      Look, this is idiotic, and the EMAILZ thing during the campaign was idiotic, but having her own email server was a stupid thing to do. Yes, the treatment HRC received from the media wasn’t fair or reasonable, but so what? We’re basically in a war, and when you’re in a war, you don’t want your higher ups doing stupid fucking things. This was a stupid fucking thing. What was the upside? Oh, yeah, people here often seem to buy the bullshit that Federal IT is fundamentally broken. Like I say, that’s bullshit; I worked as both a Federal employee and a contractor-who-wasn’t-a-federal-employee-but-in-all-important-respects-worked-like-one, and there was nothing wrong with the email system.

      Yeah, I know, I know, the Republicans are horrible, horrible shitstains.. True. But that’s only one of the issues. If an Allied commander made dumb tactical mistakes during the fight against Nazi Germany, would we defend him by saying “no, it’s OK, because the Nazis are genocidal maniacs”? No, we’d cashier him.

      • jim, some guy in iowa says:

        if we’re in a war another thing we don’t do is say, “you know, the Nazis have a point here and we should just roll over”

      • rhino says:

        Yeah, I have to agree. There should never have been such a fuss, in anything like a reasonable world. But we have all known this isn’t a reasonable world any more, if it ever was.

        There is, of course, the problem that it is impossible to never misstep. Missteps are going to happen, and then you’re in the hands of the news cycle. Look at what happened to Howard Dean. Or John Kerry. Or even, arguably (and thank god for this one) Mitt Romney. All candidates doing okay until a misstep or a dirty trick that might have gone nowhere blew up.

        And there were very few legitimate missteps by the Clinton campaign. The problem was not the campaign, it was that the media bias was enormous, and the bullshit baggage was more powerful than most ever expected. And that the media woke up to reality far too late.

        What we have, fundamentally, is a failure of democracy. Sometimes I wonder if, at least in America, repair of the system used to elect the government is even possible anymore. I can tell you one thing, I am glad my Canadian parents took me back across the border right after I popped out a month early. I used to love the time I spent down there, But I haven’t been back for 20 years and now I doubt I ever will again.

        Of course, increasingly, I wonder if one day I will wake up to an M1 Abrams parked on my street corner, and some friendly Marines going house to house with a deck of playing cards…

      • yet_another_lawyer says:

        I agree with all this and two addendums:

        1) Her stated rationale was that she… didn’t want to have to use two devices. Taking this at face value, then perhaps it would have been easier to invest in an assistant, pantsuits with bigger pockets, or some other conveyance that would allow her to achieve the Herculean task of using two different mobile phones.
        2) She stated it complied with records retention because virtually all of her work email was either to/from somebody with a .gov email address, meaning it was retained on their end. Which means that what she’s doing works if she’s literally the only person who does it, because if two people with homebrew servers emailed each other without CC’ing somebody with a .gov, the record would not be retained. Obviously that’s an unworkable rationale.

        The coverage of emails was completely overblown, but the error was completely unforced and some of the justifications were nonsense. It was a legitimate story, albeit at nowhere near the level of coverage it got.

        • tsam says:

          I’m not quite getting how the fucking hell a cabinet secretary doesn’t hit the job with an email account and a secure device and a server controlled by government information services…? This extends to the White House, where information is currently stored on RNC servers, which is totally fine. I mean, there’s no way they can hide information that way.

          To me, this is all adding up to a seriously dangerous level on information security that goes far beyond a private mail server or a political party having control of hardware that stores information that belongs to the public.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        I have absolutely no patience with this shit. It was trivial. Nobody would have cared if anyone else did it. The idea that there’s ONE MAGIC TRICK Hillary Clinton could have used to not have bullshit non-scandals manufactured against her is insane. Stop hitting yourself.

        • nemdam says:

          Amen.

          This is the only proper response to EMAILS! Anyone who thinks the lesson from this is to nominate a candidate who has never made a mistake as trivial as EMAILS! is basically advocating to never nominate someone for president.

      • Stag Party Palin says:

        but having her own email server was a stupid thing to do.

        No. The Mighty Wurlitzer does not care what the issue is, it merely roars. Just being alive is enough to get it going. And by analogy, you’re telling me that Kerry was stupid for getting a medal in Vietnam because the Rethuglicans pilloried him for it. You are victim blaming and it would be great if you would just STFU.

    • efgoldman says:

      what could the guy possibly be indicted for? He set up an e-mail server at the behest of his boss?

      Was he even an employee, or just some IT guy they hired to do a job?

  15. It’s almost as if they think they can take all the energy gunning for an investigation into their guy, and divert it against the other side without losing any of the momentum or enthusiasm associated with it, and without any blowback, and that will dissipate it without harm to themselves.

  16. tsam says:

    Charge this guy with fucking what??

  17. Gary K says:

    Are you trolling us with the citation of Justice Harlan? Surely you know he didn’t invent that phrase from Matthew 23:24.

  18. Bitter Scribe says:

    I can only assume that this is their way of maintaining that the whole e-mail thing wasn’t a cynical, nonsensical campaign slur.

    Here’s hoping the grand jury (if, God forbid, it gets that far) says, “Jesus Christ, guys, you won. Give it a fucking rest already.”

    • tsam says:

      I’m kind of thinking they’re looking for a trophy to put hang on the wall and point to when Trump is asked about locking Hillary up. It all looks even worse for Hillary since the narrative would indicate that she let an underling go down for her crimes.

  19. scott_theotherone says:

    If I found a genie in a lamp, one of my wishes would be that the grand jury would instead indict Chaffetz for obstruction of justice.

    • efgoldman says:

      If I found a genie in a lamp, one of my wishes would be that the grand jury would instead indict Chaffetz for obstruction of justice.

      Also for blurting secret information in a public hearing.

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