Judiciary Democrats call out Goodlatte on refusal to do his job

The Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee have written to Chairman Bob Goodlatte sharply questioning his reluctance to hold hearings on the Trump administration’s possible obstruction of justice, the firing of FBI director James Comey and the actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

With our Committee on the sidelines, the situation grows more perilous by the day. Last month, President Trump took to Twitter to threaten Mr. Comey, cautioning that he “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Two weeks ago, the President floated the notion of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller before his investigation even gets off the ground—over the loud objections of Democrats and Republicans alike. Last week, the President took aim at Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” In anticipation of the President’s next attack, the public is now openly speculating about the line of succession at the Department of Justice.

In our Committee meetings, you have expressed reluctance to investigate these matters because “the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are also conducting investigations.” It falls to us—and not to the intelligence committees—to examine questions about obstruction of justice, the dismissal of the FBI Director, and any attempt to influence or pressure the leadership of the Department of Justice. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, agrees with us [see here] on this point, and our Senate counterparts are already working with Special Counsel Mueller to lay out the next steps of their investigation.

At other times, you have expressed unwillingness to debate these questions because “investigations into these matters are ongoing.” We appreciate the sensitivity of the work of the Special Counsel, but nothing about an ongoing investigation prevents us from acting responsibly and conducting our own oversight… [T]he investigation into Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server did not prevent you from asking either the Attorney General or the FBI Director about the case—long before the investigation itself had concluded.


At the beginning of this Congress—under your leadership and pursuant to your amendment to our oversight plan—the Committee made a commitment to conduct oversight into allegations of misconduct by executive branch officials.

We ask you to respect that commitment, and schedule hearings with the leadership of the Department of Justice and the FBI without delay.

(See the letter here.)

Congressman Goodlatte has not had the courtesy to even respond to any of the previous letters from Judiciary Committee Democrats since November (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Unfortunately there’s no reason to expect anything different this time.

Goodlatte and the “defective speedometer” fiction

Dan Casey’s column in Sunday’s Roanoke Times makes it clear.

Bob “Law and Order” Goodlatte agreed to a legal fiction: that his April 12 speeding violation in Nelson County– for driving nearly twice the speed limit– was the result of a “defective speedometer” when in fact it was the result of a heavy foot on the accelerator. If Goodlatte expects the rest of us to respect the letter and spirit of the law, he should be willing to do so himself, even at the cost of some points on his driving record.

The amended charge simply requires everyone to pretend something happened that did not in fact happen. It’s unfortunate that that judge, the commonwealth’s attorney and the congressman colluded in such dishonesty, even if it is supposedly standard practice.

Trump humiliates Goodlatte; calls AHCA “mean, mean, mean”

When the House of Representatives approved the misbegotten American Health Care Act as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Congressman Goodlatte tweeted:

So I can’t help wondering how Goodlatte feels now that the president he has supported so loyally has trashed the House-passed AHCA in a meeting with Republican senators.

Sources who spoke to the Associated Press said Trump told GOP senators that the House bill is “mean, mean, mean” and must be made “more generous.” CNN adds that Trump told the lawmakers that the House bill would leave too many people vulnerable and that he wants more money spent on those people. One Republican senator related that Trump “talked about the need to take care of people.”

Now that Trump has blown to smithereens all of Goodlatte’s assurances about how the AHCA will protect people better than the ACA, what does the congressman have to say?

He should be asked.

Goodlatte urged to accept Trump’s offer to testify under oath

After President Trump answered “100 percent” to a question about whether he was willing to testify under oath about his conversations with then-FBI director James Comey, Congressman Luis Gutierrez called on House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte to invite Trump to do just that.

“It is the House Judiciary Committee that should be the venue for the President to defend himself against the serious allegations of official misconduct, including but not limited to apparent attempts at obstruction of justice in the removal of Mr. Comey in order to relieve the ‘pressure’ the President was feeling from investigations related to his campaign’s ties to Russian meddling in America’s most recent presidential election,” Gutierrez, a member of the committee, wrote in a letter to Goodlatte.

“Therefore, I believe it is incumbent on you as Chairman to immediately invite the President to testify.”

The House Judiciary Committee has, to date, stayed out of probing alleged improprieties by Trump and his administration, to the dismay of Democrats on the panel.

Given Goodlatte eagerness to probe Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, his hands-off approach to Trump raises legitimate questions. Now that Trump has suggested he wants to give his side of the story under oath, why not take it up on it?

Goodlatte backs bill to weaken consumer financial protection

Predictably Congressman Goodlatte joined virtually every other House Republican Thursday to approve the Financial CHOICE Act and send it to the Senate.

According to GovTrack.us:

This bill would make sweeping changes to the financial regulatory system by revising the changes that were put in place after the 2008-2009 economic crash. The bill would weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and regulations that prevent commercial banks from trading for their own gain, among other changes.

The New York Times reported:

The bill would also eliminate the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which requires brokers to act in the best interest of their clients when providing investment advice about retirement.

Perhaps Goodlatte would like to explain to Sixth District retirees depending on investment income how this will benefit them.

Goodlatte, who likes to present himself as a champion of service members and veterans, apparently chose to ignore a memorandum from Robert E. Wallace, Adjutant General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who pleaded with House members to oppose the Financial CHOICE Act because it could weaken the ability of the CFPB to protect service members and veterans from predatory financial practices.

vfw letter on cfpb

In a statement posted on his website, Goodlatte claimed:

The Financial CHOICE Act puts Main Street first. This legislation levels the playing field by eliminating the onerous regulations [of the Dodd-Frank Act] that are holding back job creators and stifling access to credit and capital.

But as CNBC reported, Dodd-Frank has not stifled access to credit or capital. In fact, “Since the law took effect in July 2010, bank lending to businesses and consumers has continued to hit new highs.”


Goodlatte reelection campaign already raking in cash for 2018

With a big boost from the information technology, internet and music industries, Congressman Goodlatte’s reelection campaign committee took in $144,425 in contributions during the first three months of 2017, according to the Federal Election Commission.

All but $9,600 of that amount is designated for Goodlatte’s 2018 primary contest– assuming he has a Republican challenger.

As I noted in February, Goodlatte co-chairs the Congressional Internet Caucus. In addition the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, includes a subcommittee on intellectual property and the internet.

The Staunton News Leader reported in 2015:

The congressman’s staunch support for copyright protections has endeared him to the liberal movie and music industry crowd. As he was about to assume his chairmanship two years ago, CNET Magazine announced Goodlatte as “Hollywood’s new copyright ally.” The International Business Times reported… that the Motion Picture Association of America has a priority of raising money for Goodlatte.

He said he doesn’t consider himself “Hollywood’s congressmen.” His alliance with movie and music makers stems from his focus on intellectual property, the ideas and inventions that he believes drive economic growth.

“You come up with a brilliant idea, whether it’s creative like art or music, or movies or books or an invention —something that can be patented,” Goodlatte said. “Then you get rewarded by the government protecting your rights under that; you then have the opportunity to grow the economy.”

Fair enough, but that doesn’t justify overlooking Goodlatte’s positions on a host of other issues which have been documented at Goodlatte Watch.

Among the IT and internet supporters of Goodlatte’s reelection campaign are the PACs of:

· Oracle ($2,500)

· eBay ($2,000)

· Amazon ($2,500)

· AT&T ($2,500)

· Comcast ($2,500)

Greg Maurer, public policy director for Facebook, kicked in a total of $5,000 ($2,700 for the primary and $2,300 for the general election).

The music industry has been generous. Donors include the PACs of:

· National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences ($2,500)

· National Music Publishers Association ($1,500)

· Universal Music Group ($2,000)

Among the individual contributors were Jeff Walker, executive vice president at Sony Music ($500); Mitch Glazier, president of the Recording Industry Association of America ($1,000); Clark Miller, executive vice president at Warner/Chappell Music ($500); and Jody Klein, CEO of ABKCO Music & Records ($500).

Goodlatte has plenty of other corporate donors, including the PACs of Wendys, Corning, Texas Instruments, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Nationwide Insurance and Toyota.

Goodlatte has also received donations from two union PACs: the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees ($2,500) and the American Federation of Musicians ($1,500). This hasn’t altered his essential hostility to organized labor, including support for a national “right to work” law.

You can find a complete list of the early donors to Goodlatte’s 2018 campaign here.

Goodlatte applauds US exit from climate accord

Here’s Congressman Goodlatte’s statement on President Trump’s announcement that the United States has joined only Nicaragua and Syria in rejecting the Paris climate agreement:

Today’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement was the right move. I’ve had concerns from the beginning that this agreement was never ratified by the Senate, failing to get the scrutiny of the People’s elected representatives and flouting our constitutional treaty approval process. Additionally, the agreement puts significant burdens on the U.S. while we have already taken substantial steps in reducing CO2 emissions in our country. We all want a healthy environment to pass down to the next generation, and we should continue to work toward this goal on the international front in a way that preserves both the American economy and the environment.

Thus Goodlatte continues his down-the-line support for Trump’s policies and actions, no matter how reckless and irresponsible. In fact the White House even bragged about it.

Perhaps Goodlatte doesn’t understand the irony of this tweet on his Twitter feed:

being followed by this tweet:

The young wind-energy technologists from Botetourt County could probably explain to Goodlatte a thing or two about the dangers of climate change and need for renewable energy.

In case Goodlatte hasn’t noticed, the greatest job growth is in renewable energy. As someone who claims to want to create new employment opportunities for folks in the Sixth District, he should want to encourage this. You would think.