Goodlatte finally calls out Trump

Even though he can’t bring himself to mention Donald Trump by name, this is (as best I recall) Congressman Goodlatte’s first public criticism of the president since the 2016 election.

Goodlatte versus the FBI again

Watch as Congressman Goodlatte makes a fool of himself with his ultra-partisan badgering of FBI official Peter Strzok at a joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee (which he chairs) and the House Intelligence Committee.

Goodlatte threatened Strzok with a contempt citation after he declined to answer a question because FBI lawyers had instructed him not to answer any questions about the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

For months Goodlatte has been on a crusade to portray Strzok as part of an anti-Trump “conspiracy” at the FBI– despite solid evidence to the contrary.

Anyone who thought Goodlatte, once he announced his retirement from Congress, would feel less obligated to take Donald Trump’s side at every opportunity clearly overestimated the integrity of the congressman.

Goodlatte’s “regular order” is out of order

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post:

Babies are seized from their mothers’ arms. Photographs show their anguish. News reports describe their cages. A recording captures their wailing and a U.S. border official’s cold mockery. A defiant President Trump falsely blames others for the misery he created.

And Republican lawmakers respond as they often have: They hold another hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

But they have run this play too many times before.

Just 29 seconds into Tuesday’s hearing on the defeated Democratic 2016 presidential nominee and her emails, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, interrupted to point out that something more important needs attention.

“We have seen the pictures of immigrants ripped apart from their parents at the border. These children are not animals,” he said. “They are children who have been forcibly removed from their parents in our name.”

Republicans on the committee tried to silence Nadler with calls of “order!”

Nadler spoke over them: “The United States should be better than this. We should not put children in cages.”

“Regular order!” called out Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Nadler “has been given more time than would have been afforded the other side, had we pulled something like that.”

Ah, so it’s “regular order” to have the umpteenth hearing about a now-private citizen’s emails, but you’re “pulling” a stunt if you talk about the Trump policy under which border guards are reportedly telling parents they are taking children “for a bath” and the children never return.

No, Republicans, your “regular order” is out of order.

Goodlatte backs Trump on family separation

In an interview with NPR, Congressman Goodlatte essentially backed the Trump administration’s position that only Congress can end the cruel policy of separating children from their parents at the border with Mexico.

Goodlatte agrees with Trump’s false assertion that the law requires that children be separated from their parents. But even other Congressional Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, say that Trump could end this practice with a phone call to the Department of Homeland Security.

The “well-suited” racist Steve King strikes again

The Washington Post reports:

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa is drawing scrutiny after sharing a social media post from a British white nationalist who has described himself in the past as an admirer of Hitler’s Germany and a “Nazi sympathizer.”

King, whose racially inflected comments on subjects such as immigration and Western culture have drawn headlines for years, retweeted the British white nationalist Mark Collett, who had shared a statistic from Breitbart News on Tuesday morning about opinions of “mass immigration” in Italy.

“Europe is waking up,” King wrote, above Collett’s tweet. “Will America … in time?”

King’s retweet drew outcry from liberal commentators and websites for its substance, as well as the relative silence of his Republican colleagues in the House. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has rebuked King in the past, did not immediately return a request for comment sent to his office.

Among those maintaining silence is Congressman Goodlatte, who in January 2017 appointed King as chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, declaring: “His expertise on many of the issues facing our nation and the committee make him well-suited to serve as chairman of the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee. I look forward to working with him as we seek to safeguard Americans’ liberties and promote an efficient and just legal system.”

Surely Goodlatte can understand that retweeting a self-styled Nazi sympathizer does not make one “well-suited” to “safeguard Americans’ liberties.”

Goodlatte-backed bill would mean less food for those who need it

Congressman Goodlatte joined his Republican colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to approve a Farm Bill that would mean deep cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps.

The Commonwealth Institute of Virginia reports:

[T]he newest Farm Bill proposal – passed by the House Agriculture Committee on April 18 and could be voted on by the  full House this month – will end or cut SNAP benefits for many people, while setting up costly bureaucratic hurdles to qualify that do more harm than good.

SNAP kept 158,000 people in Virginia, including 79,000 children, above the poverty line ($20,420 for a family of three) in 2017. It also reduces the share of households who lack consistent access to nutritional food and lowers health care costs.  Researchers found that the program had long-term positive impacts on children into adulthood. Those who had access to food stamps (compared to children in low-income families who did not) were less likely to be obese, less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease, and more likely to graduate from high school. It may be due to this effectiveness that SNAP has experienced bipartisan support since the 1960s.

The current Farm Bill proposal will likely weaken the SNAP program and the families it supports, including parents raising kids, people with disabilities, and working people. In cutting more than $17 billion in SNAP benefits, more than 2 million people are likely to lose all or a significant portion of nutrition assistance. This will hit rural localities and small towns in Virginia especially hard …

Changes to the program’s current work requirements, in particular, will burden families with providing proof of work or exemption on a monthly basis. Workers in low-wage jobs typically do not have reliable schedules with consistent hours, and maintaining 20 hours a week every month may be problematic. If their boss cuts their hours, they are temporarily out of work, or they have missed work to care for a sick family member and do not meet the requirement, the bill would cut off assistance for 12 months (36 if it happens again) at a time when they may need it most.

In Goodlatte’s Sixth District, more than 31,000 households depend on SNAP, the majority of them with children under 18. More than three-quarters of these households have someone who worked over the past 12 months.

Goodlatte makes a show of his concern for those without enough food. So why does he want to make it harder for the poorest and most vulnerable of his constituents to feed their families?

“They are doing everything in their power to distract from President Trump’s legal troubles…”

Jerrold Nadler, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, released a statement after Chairman Goodlatte issued one letter calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate allegations that the Justice Department pressured the FBI to shut down its probe of the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 presidential election, and a second letter demanding information from the Department about Daniel Richman, an associate of former FBI Director James Comey:

I could argue with Chairman Goodlatte on the merits of his first letter. The Republicans want the Department of Justice to re-investigate a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory about the Clinton Foundation. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing here—just snippets from a public report and fact-free speculation about a Benghazi-style ‘stand down’ order at DOJ.

I could also argue with the Chairman on the merits of his second letter. Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Gowdy have refused to investigate the actual facts contained in the Comey memos—which point to obstruction of justice by President Trump. They would rather spend taxpayer dollars trying to convince the public not to believe Mr. Comey and that President Trump is blameless.

I could argue with both Chairmen to take some responsibility for the baseless articles of impeachment now aimed at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Our Republican colleagues would not be quite so brazen in their work to disable the Special Counsel’s investigation if their leadership stood up to them—even once—on behalf of the men and women of the Department of Justice.

But instead of arguing I will simply point out that it is May of 2018 and House Republicans are still chasing Hillary Clinton. They are doing everything in their power to distract from President Trump’s legal troubles and discredit the Department of Justice as a hedge against the next round of indictments. Think about all of the good our Committee might be doing instead.