Goodlatte backs McCabe firing

Predictably Congressman Goodlatte fully supports the Department of Justice’s vindictive firing (with President Trump’s encouragement) of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, just hours before was scheduled to retire.

I applaud Attorney General Jeff Sessions for taking action and firing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe prior to his scheduled retirement.

Mr. McCabe’s actions have tarnished the reputation of the FBI, America’s premier law enforcement agency. In his capacity as Deputy Director, Mr. McCabe reportedly leaked internal information to the media and subsequently misled investigators about his actions. This is simply unacceptable and warrants dismissal.

For someone who is so painstaking (to the point of obstruction) when it comes to chairing the House Judiciary Committee, it is remarkable how quickly Goodlatte expressed his approval of McCabe’s firing without actually seeing any details of the charges against him.

As former FBI agent Josh Campbell writes in The Washington Post:

With all eyes on the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and its forthcoming report on the conduct of FBI officials during the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, Justice leadership chose to act on a subset of the IG’s findings and fire McCabe without providing underlying details.

 …..
The attorney general appears to have done a disservice to the American people by announcing the conclusion of a high-profile investigation without providing the public with a full accounting of the facts. In today’s polarized climate, the absence of truth makes it easy for members of the public to retreat to their political corners, form narratives and draw conclusions that can be nearly impossible to alter, once baked in.

As any FBI special agent will tell you, investigations are complicated. It is possible to hold two seemingly competing but accurate thoughts in one’s head at the same time, namely, that McCabe could have been not fully candid with investigators and that Justice leadership could have politicized his firing. If he committed wrongdoing, McCabe should be held accountable, but this incident should not define his service to the nation.

But there is a bigger principle at stake here than one FBI agent’s career. The public must not be manipulated by the selective release and withholding of investigative information by the Justice Department.

Nor– willingly or otherwise– should Congressman Goodlatte.

Goodlatte again tries to deflect

You can tell that Congressman Goodlatte is getting nervous about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign and administration. His efforts to divert attention from that probe are intensifying.

According to Goodlatte’s website, he and Congressman Trey Gowdy are calling for the appointment of a special counsel “to investigate potential bias and potential conflicts of interest and decisions made or not made by the Department of Justice in 2016 and 2017.”

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Chairmen Goodlatte and Gowdy request the appointment of a Special Counsel to review evidence of bias by any employee or agent of the DOJ, FBI, or other agencies; the decisions to charge or not charge and whether those decisions were made consistent with the applicable facts, the applicable law, and traditional investigative and prosecutorial policies and procedures; and whether the FISA process employed in the fall of 2016 and continuing into 2017 was lawful and pursuant to all relevant policies and procedures.

As previously noted at Goodlatte Watch, the congressman’s effort to discredit the integrity of certain FBI agents has been thoroughly discredited. Meanwhile he serenely ignores President Trump’s serial efforts to undermine the Mueller investigation.

Goodlatte’s strange effort to link opioids to sanctuary cities

Congressman Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, plans to devote valuable committee time to a hearing Thursday on “The Effect of Sanctuary City Policies on the Ability to Combat the Opioid Epidemic.”

In effect, Goodlatte is choosing to ignore the many more salient causes of the opioid crisis (pharmaceutical company spending, shortages of addiction treatment options, poverty, unemployment, lack of health insurance) to put the most divisive and partisan spin on a national tragedy.

According to the Harvard Business Review:

Every part of the country is battling opioid addiction, but the worst-hit states include Ohio, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.

In fact West Virginia and New Hampshire have no sanctuary cities, and Ohio has only one (Cincinnati). Despite Goodlatte’s bizarre effort to link the opioid crisis to sanctuary cities, there is no evidence of a connection between the two.

Responding to Goodlatte’s plan for the hearing, Judiciary Committee Democrats wrote to the chair calling for a more comprehensive examination of the epidemic:

In 2016, more than 42,000 people died of opioid overdoses, which equates to 115 people dying every day of preventable causes. On October 26, 2017, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a Nationwide Public Health Emergency. At the time, you stated that ‘the House Judiciary Committee will continue to review our nation’s laws to determine if more resources are needed to address this crisis.

Shortly thereafter, on November 1, 2017, the President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released its final report setting forth 56 specific recommendations to address the ongoing epidemic. It is long past due that the Committee held a hearing to examine these issues and how we can work in bipartisan manner to consider comprehensive measures to combat the opioid epidemic.

 The Democrats concluded their letter:

[W]e should explore the opportunities for bipartisan action on these issues instead of focusing on divisive anti-immigrant politics. Therefore, we request that the full Committee or the Crime Subcommittee convene hearings to address means by which we can do more to prevent and fight opioid abuse in our country.

Goodlatte’s laughable fiscal hypocrisy

It is time for Congress to finally put an end to fiscal irresponsibility and stop saddling future generations with crushing debts to pay for our current spending. We must rise above partisanship and join together to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, introducing a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the Constitution on January 3, 2017

As I noted at the time, Goodlatte’s vaunted fiscal conservatism only seems to kick in when a Democrat happens to be president.

Goodlatte’s votes in Congress– along with those of other Republicans and some Democrats– helped turn the budget surplus that George W. Bush inherited from Bill Clinton in 2001 into the huge budget deficit that Barack Obama inherited from Bush in 2009.

While supporting Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts, which cost the Treasury $1.8 trillion in the first eight years, Goodlatte also voted for the president’s unfunded Medicare prescription drug program ($495 billion from general revenue through 2015), as well as the hugely expensive and unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (at least $1.6 trillion through 2014).

For Goodlatte, introducing a balanced budget amendment is like saying, “Stop me before I slash hundreds of billions in revenue and spend hundreds of billions we don’t have again.”

Then in November Goodlatte voted for the Republicans’ budget-busting tax plan, which promises to add up to $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Finally– as if to make sure we understood how phony his pious anti-deficit talk really is– Goodlatte joined in voting Friday morning for $300 billion in additional spending over the next two years– with no additional revenue to cover it.

GOP Senator Rand Paul was quite willing to call out the hypocrisy of Goodlatte and other Republican “fiscal hawks” who voted for spending.

“I can’t in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits,” he said on the Senate floor.

Bottom line: If, during his final months in Congress, Goodlatte dares to complain about out-of-control federal spending, his constituents will be perfectly justified in laughing in his face.

Goodlatte’s “conspiracy” theory is blown away

Efforts by Congressman Goodlatte and other Congressional Republicans to protect President Trump by undermining the credibility of the FBI have been crushed by a CNN report.

Emails obtained by CNN show the FBI agent at the center of a Capitol Hill storm played a key role in a controversial FBI decision that upended Hillary Clinton’s campaign just days before the 2016 election: the letter to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey announcing the bureau was investigating newly discovered Clinton emails.

The new revelation about FBI agent Peter Strzok comes as Republicans accuse him of being sympathetic to Clinton while seeking to undermine Donald Trump during the heat of the 2016 campaign season.

Strzok, who co-wrote what appears to be the first draft that formed the basis of the letter Comey sent to Congress, also supported reopening the Clinton investigation once the emails were discovered on disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop, according to a source familiar with Strzok’s thinking. The day after Strzok sent his draft to his colleagues, Comey released the letter to Congress, reigniting the email controversy in the final days of the campaign.

Last week Goodlatte alleged an anti-Trump “conspiracy” in the FBI based on messages criticizing Trump and supporting Clinton which Strzok exchanged with a colleague. Now it turns out that Strzok, far from protecting Clinton, helped write a letter that probably flipped the 2016 election to her opponent.
 
So, sorry, Congressman– no “conspiracy.” No “secret society”. Just an FBI agent doing his job despite his personal opinions.
 
Now can we move on to something more important– like the President of the United States improperly questioning the Deputy Attorney General about his personal loyalty?

Goodlatte blows credibility with “conspiracy” charge against FBI

As the Mueller investigation appears to zero in on President Trump himself, and as news emerges of Trump’s efforts to fire the special counsel last June, the President’s diehard defenders in Congress are in panic mode.

Among them is Congressman Goodlatte. As Politico reports:

On Fox News, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House committee that oversees the Justice Department and FBI, alleged an anti-Trump “conspiracy” by FBI agents whose text message exchanges have been made public in selective bursts by GOP lawmakers.

“Some of these texts are very disturbing,” Goodlatte said, adding, “They illustrate a conspiracy on the part of some people, and we want to know a lot more about that.”

…..

Congressional Democrats say it’s no accident that the GOP probes have escalated as Mueller has homed in on Trump’s top allies. Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Jerry Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrats on three GOP-led committees unearthing internal FBI documents, say the Republican efforts smack of a partisan campaign to protect the president and sully the investigators who have questioned his behavior.

Noah Rothman, an editor for the conservative Commentary magazine, observed on NPR Friday morning: “Over the course of the last year, something has taken hold among Republican legislators and the Republican base that seems convinced that this President is a victim of a concerted effort behind the scenes by members of the FBI to sabotage this administration.”

Rothman said Congressional Republicans “got way out over their skis on this and suggested the conclusion that they were implying outright, which was that there was a concerted conspiracy, a shadow organization within the FBI, exposed by these anti-Trump texts from a former member of the counter-intelligence division of the FBI who ended up on the Mueller probe for about six weeks. And the suggestion was outright, from people like Representative Bob Goodlatte, that this was a conspiracy. Using that word. And we’ve since seen a lot of these texts in in their appropriate context, and it seems as if this was really overblown, to the point now where you have to wonder whether some credibility has been lost by these Republican members. And if you’re a Republican and a conservative, you should be furious over this.”

This isn’t the first time Goodlatte has squandered his credibility in support of Trump. I suspect it won’t be the last time before he exits Congress at the end of the year.