This weekend, the Republican Congressman responsible for investigating presidential misconduct said that Barack Obama’s decision to offer a position to Joe Sestak as an incentive for him to drop out of a Democratic primary “was a criminal event under the law” — and that he is going to do absolutely, positively nothing about it.
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Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, rang in the new year by making a sweep of Sunday talk shows. While appearing on CNN’s State of the Union program, guest hosted by Ed Henry, he walked back several of his criticisms of Barack Obama.
He began by downplaying an earlier statement to Rush Limbaugh. Issa told El Rushbo that Barack Obama “has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” He says he meant to say “that this is one of the most corrupt administrations.”
He followed up by saying he will not investigate the Joe Sestak affair. Why? Because Republicans have been guilty of the same crime. When Henry asked him about an e-mail in which he called the event “Obama’s Watergate,” Issa responded:
ISSA: It is in fact an example of misconduct, in my opinion. Now, what happened throughout this process — and I’ve made this very clear — is we’ve discovered the problem’s bigger than that. It’s bigger than President Obama.
President Bush’s people said we did the same thing. Guess what? It was a criminal event under the law — a criminal event, when President Bush’s people did it, and I don’t know when they did it. They’ve just admitted that they did it…When you offer a position, paid or unpaid, existing statute makes it illegal to offer that job in return for affecting an election. That is — that is something we’ve got to get to stop. The American people do not want ambassadorships or any other position handed out to save a party money.
HENRY: So do you still believe it was “Obama’s Watergate,” the Joe Sestak case?
ISSA: Once we knew, as we discovered, that it turns out that Republicans and previous administrations thought it was OK in spite of the absolute black and white letter of the law, it got bigger — it got bigger than President Obama.
HENRY: So are you going to investigate the Joe Sestak case?
ISSA: No we’re not.
If Darrell Issa believes offering candidates positions to change the outcome of political races is a “criminal event” that “we’ve got to get to stop,” dropping an investigation and preemptively ruling out any consequences is perhaps the least likely way to curtail it. In addition to Sestak, Issa must ignore Andrew Romanoff, who alleges a similar job offer. Allowing one (or two, of a half-dozen) administration(s) off-the-hook for felonies will prove as effective at discouraging future violations as acquitting Bill Clinton was at ending presidential lying or taming Bill’s roving eye.
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While Issa has a laudable conservative voting record, his vista for investigation has narrowed the closer he came to taking over as chairman. He had previously stated — although he has reaffirmed he believes the president is guilty of “a criminal event” that is felonious — that there is “not a chance at this point” he would push for impeachment. Late last year, Floyd Brown, Chairman of ImpeachObamaCampaign.com, called ruling out impeachment before investigations had even commenced “premature” and a “bad sign of Republican weakness.” Later, Issa went as far as to say, “My job is to make the president a success.”
There are two silver linings to this reversal. First, the president is so fabulously corrupt, so diversely devious, that he has left Congress a veritable cornucopia of offenses to investigate, several of which could lead to impeachment whether investigated by Issa or another chairman. Second, Issa is not the only Republican with oversight ability — and others do not appear as averse to taking on the administration. To offer a few examples:
Is the Just Department Denying Color-Blind Justice? Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that he had set his sights on Attorney General Eric Holder, listing a litany of his offenses. “He didn’t do anything about ACORN,” Issa noted. “He didn’t do anything effectively about the New Black Panthers.” Issa concluded, “He’s hurting this administration. If you’re hurting the administration, you need to stop hurting the administration or leave.” It seems probable that Eric Holder encouraged the Justice Department to deny justice to certain victims because they are white and the accused are black. It is possible this originated with Barack Obama and extends to every sector of his administration. (His obsession with doling out stealth reparations to minority groups confirms this.) Andrew McCarthy of National Review agrees this issue merits an investigation.
Eric Holder is perverting justice, and removing him from office should be high on any investigator’s list of priorities. Should he succeed, Issa would do the nation an invaluable service. However, it seems Holder is not harming Obama so much as Holder and Obama are harming the country. And if that is the case, we must not rest until both leave.
Issa added yet another ray of hope in his discussion of the Black Panther Case: “Chairman Lamar Smith, as a civil rights issue, will take [the Black Panthers dismissal] on.” Rep. Smith of Texas will chair the Judiciary Committee. He has proven a cautious voice in favor of investigating the administration’s immigration record. (Smith had shown interest in investigating the Sestak affair, as well.) When pushed by the media, Smith has confirmed he will use his oversight power to hold Obama accountable. “I am committed to working with the Justice Department to ensure that our laws are equally enforced, criminals are prosecuted, and American communities are kept safe,” he said. That seems to indicate he will also investigate the president’s refusal to enforce our nation’s immigration laws. The cases of selective enforcement are two signs of the same lawless coin.
Covert Propaganda. Issa’s committee has already produced a 36-page report of potential legal infractions on another front: the administration’s use of covert propaganda. Many of these crimes were subsidized with your tax dollars. Issa’s report indicates that previous administrations have crossed the same line, so an inquiry into this charge would present little risk of legal pitfalls; the fact is already known. However, Issa’s report found nothing comparable to the Obama administration’s use of propaganda, overtly or covertly, so consistently aimed at snowing a domestic audience. Should his committee document the concrete illegality Issa reported in his report, those would constitute impeachable offenses. Then Issa and his colleagues should have little timidity in expelling the president from office.
Issa announced the six areas his office will investigate, worthy targets all (particularly Wikileaks), each likely to save the taxpayer large sums of money by actually locating the most mysterious and elusive trinity in Washington: the trio of “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Many of these are systemic and independent of who the president is. Mucking these Augean stables will pay profound dividends.
On the other hand, this president has engaged in a multitude of potentially illegal actions that Republican Congressmen know of. The American people deserve to learn about any crimes committed, review the full threat this president and his corrupt administration pose to the U.S. Constitution, and sound off on how they wish to respond — as one outstanding Republican Congressman has said, “up to and including impeachment.”