Jim Browski April 10 2014 (Thanks, Minty)
Trey Gowdy explodes In Contempt Hearing For Lois Lerner held by the House oversight committee on the IRS scandal.
Trey Gowdy explodes In Contempt Hearing For Lois Lerner held by the House oversight committee on the IRS scandal.
Testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Wednesday, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said the only way to get government spending under control would be to have the Obama administration show more leadership and for Congress to do more oversight, The Washington Times reported.
“Imagine beginning every month not knowing what money you have and not being able to track how much you’ve spent,” said committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, according to The Times. “Yet year after year, that’s where the federal government operates.”
As lawmakers seek to use federal courts to force disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to hand over documents on the deadly Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, the Obama administration filed a motion this week claiming that the judicial branch has no power to interfere. According to the Department of Justice, a ruling in favor of Congress and its oversight authority would violate so-called “executive privilege.” But lawmakers are not buying it.
While he is currently abusing his position to shield himself from prosecution, Holder famously became the first attorney general in U.S. history to be held in civil and criminal contempt of Congress in late June on a bipartisan vote. Lawmakers were upset over the administration’s ongoing coverup in which it refused to provide subpoenaed documents on Fast and Furious, the now-infamous federal scheme that put thousands of high-powered American weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
“Disputes of this sort have arisen regularly since the founding,” the Justice Department claimed in the legal brief filed late Monday, asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss the lawsuit. “For just as long, these disputes have been resolved between the political branches through a constitutionally grounded system of negotiation, accommodation and self-help.” The filing also claimed the courts lack jurisdiction in the case.
The administration has unlawfully refused to hand over thousands of documents related to the scandal, repeatedly defying congressional subpoenas and flouting the authority of Congress. When it became clear that lawmakers would not back down in the effort to uncover the details of Fast and Furious, however, President Obama stepped in and claimed “executive privilege” to justify the coverup.
Congress responded with contempt charges and over 120 members of the House and Senate demanded Holder’s resignation. When that failed, lawmakers filed suit in federal court. Now the administration claims that even the judiciary does not have the authority to force the executive branch’s hand. Lawmakers trying to carry out their oversight responsibilities, though, say the Justice Department’s argument is absurd on its face.
“The Obama Administration’s argument should trouble Americans who believe the President and the federal government are not above the law,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has been leading the charge for accountability. “In perpetuating a cover-up, through false and misleading statements that even the Justice Department’s own Inspector General found troubling, the Obama administration argued for months that it did not have to meet its legal obligations to a lawfully issued congressional subpoena.”
(CBS News) — House Republicans investigating the Fast and Furious scandal plan to pursue a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder, senior congressional aides told CBS News.
The resolution will accuse Holder and his Justice Department of obstructing the congressional probe into the allegations that the government let thousands of weapons fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
The citation would attempt to force Holder to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents related to the probe, which has entered its second year.
For months, congressional Republicans probing ATF’s Fast and Furious “Gunwalker” scandal – led by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, have been investigating a contempt citation. They’ve worked quietly behind the scenes to build support among fellow Republicans, since it could ultimately face a full House vote.
CBS News has confirmed that House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, was provided a 48-page long draft by Issa, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“While there are very legitimate arguments to be made in favor of such an action, no decision has been made to move forward with one by the Speaker or by House Republican leaders,” a Republican leadership aide told CBS News.
Tensions are rising quickly in the investigation of the deadly federal gun-running operation “Fast and Furious” as Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice continues to unlawfully withhold subpoenaed documents. The persistent stonewalling prompted Congress to renew its warning that contempt proceedings against top Obama administration officials are imminent if the cover-up does not end.
The Justice Department missed another deadline earlier this month to hand over key information to congressional investigators, asking — yet again — for more time to consider the requests and produce the documents. The media barely noticed. But after a year of stonewalling and cover-ups, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has had just about enough.
In a letter dated February 14, Rep. Issa warned Holder (above) that failure to comply with a congressional subpoena is a violation of federal law. About two thirds of the document categories sought by investigators have been unlawfully withheld without any proper justification, he said, noting that much of what has been handed over was so heavily redacted as to be rendered useless.
As such, the letter ordered the nation’s top law enforcement officer to appoint a DOJ representative who will “serve as the conduit for dealing with the contempt proceedings, should the Department continue to ignore the Committee’s subpoena.” If convicted, Holder could face jail time and hefty fines.
“The Justice Department’s request for additional time has, unfortunately, not been followed by efforts to bridge the significant differences between its legal obligation to Congress and the reality of its stonewalling,” Chairman Issa said in a statement blasting the DOJ. The Committee declined Holder’s request for more time.
Rep. Issa emphasized that, in light of the ongoing DOJ cover-up, Congress had no choice but to take action. “If the Justice Department cannot commit to providing, at a minimum, a detailed description of documents it is withholding, and the legal basis for doing so, then the Committee has no other option than to move forward with the contempt process against Attorney General Holder,” he said in the statement.
Holder and other top officials have already been caught repeatedly lying to Congress under oath — itself a criminal offense. They were originally being investigated for trafficking thousands of high-powered firearms to Mexican drug cartels. Some of those weapons were later linked to murders of federal officers including Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, as well as the deaths of hundreds of Mexican citizens.
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) unless there is consensus on the bill.
“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said in a statement. “Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”
The announcement comes just hours after Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), SOPA’s sponsor, made a major concession to the bill’s critics by agreeing to drop a controversial provision that would have required Internet service providers to block infringing websites.
WASHINGTON — When Representative Ed Pastor was first elected to Congress two decades ago, he was comfortably ensconced in the middle class. Mr. Pastor, a Democrat from Arizona, held $100,000 or so in savings accounts in the mid-1990s and had a retirement pension, but like many Americans, he also owed the banks nearly as much in loans.
Today, Mr. Pastor, a miner’s son and a former high school teacher, is a member of a not-so-exclusive club: Capitol Hill millionaires. That group has grown in recent years to include nearly half of all members of Congress — 250 in all — and the wealth gap between lawmakers and their constituents appears to be growing quickly, even as Congress debates unemployment benefits, possible cuts in food stamps and a “millionaire’s tax.”
Mr. Pastor buys a Powerball lottery ticket every weekend and says he does not consider himself rich. Indeed, within the halls of Congress, where the median net worth is $913,000 and climbing, he is not. He is a rank-and-file millionaire. But compared with the country at large, where the median net worth is $100,000 and has dropped significantly since 2004, he and most of his fellow lawmakers are true aristocrats.
Largely insulated from the country’s economic downturn since 2008, members of Congress — many of them among the “1 percenters” denounced by Occupy Wall Street protesters — have gotten much richer even as most of the country has become much poorer in the last six years, according to an analysis by The New York Times based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group.
Alex Newman | The New American
December 3 2011
The scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s operation “Fast and Furious,” which sent thousands of American guns to Mexican drug cartels, continues to escalate. Senior officials and a new trove of documents released yesterday further confirm that the Justice Department provided false information about the deadly scheme to Congress. And the number of Congressman demanding Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation has now soared well above 50.
The administration was forced to release more than 1,300 pages of documents related to the gun-trafficking program. The subpoenaed records reveal frantic e-mail communications between senior officials about how vigorously to defend the operation, as well as concerns about the veracity of some of the proposed defenses.
Several of the exchanges also expressed worries that if the administration were to cooperate with the congressional investigation, Congress would press for even more information. Others highlight the general fear among those involved that exposure would damage the image of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (still known as ATF).
One e-mail from U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who oversaw much of the gun trafficking, recommends sending a “stern missive” to the Arizona Republic newspaper for exposing the scheme. “Just baffling that they refuse to engage even just to protect the integrity of the agency,” he wrote in a February 1 e-mail to Justice Department Criminal Division boss Lanny Breuer. In another e-mail, Burke complains that congressional investigators were acting as “willing stooges” for defenders of the right to keep and bear arms.
The documents that were released to the press also show that top officials urged the Department of Justice to issue a strong and categorical denial of accusations made by ATF whistleblowers. And in the end, despite the seriousness of lying to Congress, that is precisely what happened.
Vicki Needham (The Hill) | Common Dreams
November 28 2011
A top House Democrat is calling for a hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following a report that the central bank secretly committed more than $7 trillion to save banks during the financial crisis.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (Md.) sent a letter on Monday to panel Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) requesting the committee look into how banks “benefitted from trillions of dollars in previously undisclosed government loans provided at below-market rates.”
“Many Americans are struggling to understand why banks deserve such preferential treatment while millions of homeowners are being denied assistance and are at increasing risk of foreclosure,” Cummings said.
The request comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report that said the Fed secretly committed more than $7 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the nation’s top financial institutions, and that these banks “reaped an estimated $13 billion of income” on the below-market rates.
“Unfortunately, officials from many of these financial institutions declined to comment about these loans, including officials from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley,” Cummings writes.
Information about the loans was withheld from Congress as lawmakers debated and passed the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, Cummings said. Banks also failed to disclose the information to their shareholders.