Is Goodlatte losing confidence in Robert Mueller?

With Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s support, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday hijacked a Democratic bill calling for information from the Justice Department relating to the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

Democrats were hoping to put Republicans on the spot with a “resolution of inquiry” that, if it had passed, would have asked the Department of Justice to provide documents related to any potential involvement Attorney General Jeff Sessions had in the firing of Comey.

The resolution was sponsored by Democrats Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

But Republicans used their majority in the committee to tack on an amendment that struck the Democrats’ language, and instead called for a special counsel to investigate matters more closely related to Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. That includes the recently-revealed information that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked James Comey to refer to the Clinton email scandal as a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”

It passed along party lines in the committee, 15-13.

Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia defended the move by saying Democrats were being “redundant” for seeking information from the administration while the Mueller special counsel investigation was ongoing.

“This resolution seems to be just one more opportunity for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to vicariously voice Hillary Clinton’s long and growing list for why she lost the election,” Goodlatte said.

Jayapal said the committee had fallen down with its responsibilities by not investigating Russia matters, “even as our counterparts in the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have put country over party and have refused to step away from their essential roles.”

The Republican action was yet another attempt at distraction from real and current matters of concern about the Trump campaign and the Trump administration relating to Russia.

In a revealing remark, Goodlatte said of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s possible collaboration with Russia: “There is real concern over whether this is a fishing expedition.”

Remember that when Mueller was appointed in May, Goodlatte said:

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the right decision by appointing a special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence our nation’s 2016 presidential election. Former Director Mueller is a well-respected law enforcement professional who served the FBI for a dozen years under both Democratic and Republican presidents. I am confident that he will serve with integrity and professionalism, and will conduct a thorough and fair investigation.

“I applaud the Trump Administration for taking this important step that the previous Administration repeatedly declined to do in other matters, ensuring an independent and thorough investigation is conducted to unearth all the facts. This decision will help instill much needed public confidence in the investigation.”

So it appears Goodlatte now has doubts about the investigation he expressed so much confidence in just a couple of months ago. What’s changed? I mean, aside from the fact that President Trump is now lashing out at Mueller and denouncing his probe as a “witch hunt.”

Goodlatte approves Russia sanctions but won’t probe Russian election interference

Congressman Goodlatte was among the overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives who voted Tuesday to impose new sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia.

Goodlatte posted on Facebook:

These nations continue to undermine America’s national security and promote instability elsewhere. This legislation today makes it clear that these threats will not be ignored.

The House-approved bill would give Congress the power to block any effort by the White House to weaken sanctions on Russia.

One of the most serious threats from Russia occurred last year when the Putin regime interfered in the US presidential election with the intention of helping Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. Further there are many disturbing indications of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and representatives of the Russian government.

As chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte has the power to schedule hearings to investigate these matters.

So Goodlatte needs to be asked:

If you are so concerned about threats from Russia, why did you vote to kill a resolution of inquiry asking the Department of Justice to provide Congress with documents relating to President Trump conflicts of business interests and possible ties to Russia?

And why have you ignored repeated letters from Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee calling for investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and whether President Trump and other administration officials have obstructed justice in the probe of Russia’s role in the election?

Goodlatte welcomes death of rules protecting workers, consumers, environment

Congressman Goodlatte has tweeted his pleasure at a report that the Trump administration is killing 16 federal regulations for every new one adopted.

Tellingly, Goodlatte says nothing about the actual regulations that have been scrapped or why he believes they are unnecessary. His default position is that regulations of any kind are almost always bad for business; his favorite description for them is “burdensome.” Their role in protecting workers, consumers and the environment are of little or no concern to him.

The Washington Post reported last week:

The Trump administration said it was pulling or suspending 860 pending regulations. Of those, 469 were being completely withdrawn. Another 391 were being set aside or reevaluated. These proposed regulations could be revisited at some point or dropped altogether.

The rules the administration targeted govern everything — from the basics of everyday living, such as a product safety standard for mattresses’ flammability when it comes to cigarettes, to what sort of precautions construction firms should be required to take so their workers are not run over by other vehicles on site.

Consumer and worker advocates countered that Trump officials were scrapping critical government safeguards, and the implications of these actions could ripple across the country for years.
…..
“These rollbacks of critical public protections will leave American workers, consumers and children vulnerable on a daily basis,” said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, “to risks such as air and water pollution, unsafe products and tainted food, dangerous workplaces and a newly deregulated Wall Street that once again could threaten economic collapse.”

(More details here.)

Among the regulations that Goodlatte is pleased to see disappear or be delayed:

— The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, that required any company bidding on a federal contract of $500,00 or more to disclose labor law violations– including wage theft and health and safety infractions. Those disclosures then had to be taken into account during the bidding process.

— A regulation that would have helped low-wage workers save money in government-sponsored retirement plans through auto=IRA accounts.

Rules aimed at reducing workers’ exposure to cancer-causing silica and beryllium.

None of this seems to matter to Congressman Goodlatte, who has long put private profits above workers’ rights and public safety.

Goodlatte should see this

ram

Although it’s in an adjoining Congressional distrct, I wish Congressman Goodlatte could be at the Wise County Fairgrounds this weekend to see the thousands of people seeking free care at the Remote Area Medical clinic.

About 1,100 such people descended on the fairgrounds Friday, with more expected Saturday and Sunday. Medical personnel from across the state were there with makeshift examination rooms in tents and sheds. Sheets hung from clothespins for privacy; giant fans pulled hot air through buildings intended for livestock shows.

These events are staged nationwide, but the Wise clinic is among the biggest, drawing people from throughout Appalachia and casting Washington’s sterile political debates into the starkest human terms.

A third of the patients who registered Friday were unemployed. Those who couldn’t afford a room slept in their cars or camped in the fields around the fairgrounds. They lined up in the dead of night to get a spot inside the event.

It is the place of last resort for people who can’t afford insurance even under Obamacare or who don’t qualify for Medicaid in a state where the legislature has resisted expansion.

To clarify: it’s Republicans in the General Assembly who have blocked expansion of Medicaid to 400,000 low-income working Virginians under the Affordable Care Act. And not only does Goodlatte oppose Medicaid expansion in Virginia, he wants to repeal it nationwide.

In a June 27 interview Goodlatte said Virginians should not worry about Republican efforts to curtail Medicaid expansion: “Since Virginia did not expand, we’re not going to experience that aspect of the problem.”

As health policy expert Timothy Jost noted:

[T]he logic here is bizarre. It is like saying that refugees who are starving to death in a refugee camp that has received no relief supplies should count themselves lucky that they will not be affected by the cut-off of relief supplies to another refugee camp that was receiving help.

Goodlatte even believes that 30 million Americans “chose not to get health insurance.” How much choice does he think was involved for those waiting for hours at the Wise County Fairgrounds?

Goodlatte needs to see first-hand the consequences of his heartless policy positions. I can’t help wondering what he would say to the folks lining up for desperately-needed free care in Wise County, Virginia.

Goodlatte’s message: “Hey, look over there!”

In a flagrant but surely doomed effort to change the subject, Chairman Goodlatte and the Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee have written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions about oversight of… the Obama administration.

(Reminder to Goodlatte: Barack Obama stopped being president of the United States six months ago. We have a new president. His name is Donald Trump. He and members of his administration and his family have said and done many legally-questionable things. You might want to take a look at them.)

Silent Bob

It’s been more than 24 hours since President Trump gave an astounding interview to The New York Times in which he:

— Said that if he had known Attorney General Jeff Sessions was going to recuse himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, he would not have appointed him.

— Basically accused Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe of being Democratic party hacks.

— Suggested special counsel Robert Mueller has a vendetta against him because he wasn’t appointed FBI director and said, “A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case.” Trump has called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt.”

— Said Mueller would cross a “red line” if he investigates anything related to Trump’s or his family’s finances and left open the possibility of firing Mueller.

Now The New York Times and The Washington Post are reporting that Trump’s team is looking for conflicts of interest among Mueller’s staff and trying to undermine his investigation.

And what has Congressman Goodlatte had to say about all this? Nothing. Nothing on his Twitter account, nothing on his Facebook page, nothing on his website.

This would be troubling regardless of Goodlatte’s status in the House of Representatives. But as chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee– charged with overseeing the executive branch and federal law enforcement– his silence is downright inexplicable and appalling. Equally dismaying is his refusal to schedule hearings on any of the multiple scandals surrounding the Trump administration, despite repeated calls from committee members.

By contrast the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Republican Charles Grassley, plans to call Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to testify at an open hearing about alleged ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

On May 17 Goodlatte issued the following statement:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the right decision by appointing a special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence our nation’s 2016 presidential election. Former Director Mueller is a well-respected law enforcement professional who served the FBI for a dozen years under both Democratic and Republican presidents. I am confident that he will serve with integrity and professionalism, and will conduct a thorough and fair investigation.

I applaud the Trump Administration for taking this important step that the previous Administration repeatedly declined to do in other matters, ensuring an independent and thorough investigation is conducted to unearth all the facts. This decision will help instill much needed public confidence in the investigation.

Does Goodlatte stand by that statement? If so, it’s more important than ever that he says so– loud and clear.

Update: Judiciary Committee Democrats have sent another letter to Goodlatte:

This letter represents the fourth time that we have written to you to ask that the House Committee on the Judiciary hold hearings on matters that now extend well beyond any investigation into Russian influence.  To date, you have not responded to any of these requests.  More importantly, the Committee has not yet held a single hearing about the damage being done to the Department of Justice by the Trump Administration.

 We write again to request that you schedule hearings with the senior leadership of the Department of Justice, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, without delay.

As ACA repeal collapses, Goodlatte is still stubborn and clueless

Now that the misbegotten effort of Congressional Republicans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)– and deprive tens of millions of Americans of health insurance– has gone down in flames, and “repeal without replace” is a non-starter, Congressman Goodlatte issued the following breathtakingly dishonest statement:

At this point, as even Goodlatte must realize, there is no “process” to keep going. Instead we get an ominous proposal (or threat) from President Trump to “let Obamacare fail“– whatever that means and whoever that hurts.

While Goodlatte blames the ACA for premium increases (due largely to better coverage and Republican-generated uncertainty over the fate of the law), he ignores the fact that the now-dead Senate Republican version of “repeal and replace” would have driven premiums much higher.

Nothing Goodlatte or the Republicans have proposed would do anything to “increase access to care and choice and deliver affordable insurance options.”

It’s time for Goodlatte to stop scapegoating the ACA and to start helping make it work better.