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.

Rubio admits what Goodlatte won’t

Ever since Congressman Goodlatte and his fellow Republicans in Congress approved a massive tax cut that overwhelmingly helps corporations and the very rich, he has tried to tout the supposed benefits to ordinary working people by highlighting one-time bonuses (not actual wage increases) that some employers have provided.

But inconveniently for Goodlatte and other Congressional Republicans, their GOP colleague, Senator Marco Rubio, gave the game away in an interview with The Economist magazine.

“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” [Rubio] says. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”


What was Goodlatte trying to prove?

Despite the best efforts of Congressman Goodlatte and other House Republican leaders to suggest otherwise, the release of former FBI director James Comey’s memos of his conversations with President Trump does not come close to exonerating the president of obstructing justice or other misdeeds.

House Judiciary Committee chair Goodlatte, along with House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes and House Oversight Committee chair Trey Gowdy had pressed for the release of the memos in an effort to discredit Comey and support Trump. The memos, however, do neither. According to a joint statement from the three congressmen:

Former Director Comey’s memos show the President made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated. The memos also made clear the ‘cloud’ President Trump wanted lifted was not the Russian interference in the 2016 election cloud, rather it was the salacious, unsubstantiated allegations related to personal conduct leveled in the dossier.

The memos also show former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened. While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation.

But as Greg Sargent writes at The Washington Post:

Comey’s failure to spell out explicitly that he “felt obstructed” has no bearing on the question of whether Trump actually did obstruct justice. “Comey’s feelings about this are not relevant,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me this morning. “What matters, politically at least as much as legally, is Trump’s intent in doing what he did.”

For another, the obstruction question also turns on what happened after all of this, which is that Trump fired Comey. These memos, if anything, confirm more credibly than before what Trump’s frame of mind was in leading up to that firing — that is, the level of acquiescence that Trump wanted but did not get from Comey before firing him. These memos go further than before in supplying Trump’s likely motive for the firing.

Importantly, the Republican response shows not a scintilla of concern about the Trump conduct that was actually documented by Comey — zero concern about Trump’s demand for his FBI director’s loyalty or his effort to influence the probe. We don’t know what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will determine about Trump’s intent or about whether he obstructed justice. But what we do know is that these senior Republicans are not even slightly troubled by the misconduct that Comey has already documented, quite credibly.

And according to a Post editorial:

For his part, the president has said that Mr. Comey is a liar but also that Mr. Comey’s memos exonerate him. The claim is as credible as it is logical.

So the question arises: What were Goodlatte, Nunes and Gowdy trying to prove? Whatever it was, it appears they failed embarrassingly.

Goodlatte unwilling to protect Mueller investigation

While doing his best to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign and administration, Congressman Goodlatte acknowledged in February that it should proceed.

But like most other Congressional Republicans, Goodlatte has shown no interest in passing legislation to protect Mueller from being fired by a clearly angry President Trump.

So we shouldn’t expect a response to a letter from three Democratic members of the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee.

In a letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) obtained by POLITICO, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the panel, joined Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), in calling for urgent action on a pair of bills to protect Mueller against a unilateral ouster.

“[W]e have grown increasingly concerned that the President may either order the firing of Special Counsel Mueller, or take other action to disrupt his and other pending investigations, such as firing Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions or Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein,” the Democrats wrote.

The bills, filed months ago, have drawn widespread support among Democrats but have gotten no traction among House Republicans, who have argued that Trump is unlikely to fire Mueller and therefore no action is necessary.

Of course Trump is “unlikely” to fire Mueller until he decides otherwise. Why wouldn’t Goodlatte want to pass a law to protect the special counsel– just in case? And what will he do if Trump concludes it’s time for Mueller to go?

Goodlatte’s vote helped plunge the US deeper into debt

Another reminder of the utter hypocrisy that is Congressman Goodlatte’s support for a Balanced Budget amendment to the Constitution.

CNN reports:

Uncle Sam needs to borrow a ton of money this week — in the middle of a fight with its biggest creditor.

The United States plans to sell about $294 billion of debt, according to the Treasury Department. That’s the highest for a week since the record set during the 2008 financial crisis.

Federal revenue is declining because of President Trump’s tax cuts, so the government needs to borrow more to make ends meet. At the same time, Washington’s borrowing costs have climbed rapidly in recent months.

Goodlatte, of course, joined most most Congressional Republicans in voting for the budget-busting tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefit the very wealthy and corporations.

Goodlatte’s shift on immigration

The Washington Post reports on Bob Goodlatte’s transformation from an attorney in Roanoke helping immigrants to a congressman in Washington leading the efforts to restrict immigration.

In Roanoke’s growing number of taquerias and Vietnamese nail salons, Goodlatte’s transformation — from the guy immigrants used to call to the one leading an effort to keep them out — is a cause for painful puzzlement.

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.