I spent five years working for Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform under the reign of former Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Almost daily, we would cite the American people’s “fundamental right to know” to justify the tsunami of subpoenas and investigations we unleashed on the Obama Administration.
I believed then, as I do today, that transparency in government must be vigilantly pursued, regardless of which party controls Congress or the Oval Office. This is never more apparent than with the report Robert Mueller has submitted to Attorney General William Barr.
Speaking about the now-completed Mueller-probe, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said early this week that she thinks “it’s disgraceful...that it took two years.”
For context, the three highest-profile investigations launched by Oversight Republicans during the Obama years -- Fast & Furious, Benghazi, and IRS targeting -- all lasted much longer than two years. I don’t remember Sarah Huckabee Sanders or anyone on the right expressing concerns about the duration of those investigations.
In the spring of 2011, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in tandem with then-Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, began an investigation into “Operation Fast and Furious.” On June 7, 2017, more than six years later, the committee released its final report on the matter.
In the fall of 2012, Republicans began an investigation into the attack on the U.S. diplomat facility in Benghazi, Libya. This is the investigation that would unearth then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The investigation lasted for more than four years.
In 2013, congressional Republicans launched an investigation into the IRS’s alleged targeting of conservative groups. The “scandal” would be an ongoing line of attack for Republicans until the Trump administration declared in 2017 that prosecuting the matter “would not be appropriate based on the available evidence.”
Supporters of our oversight activities believed in our constitutionally-protected right to act as a check-and-balance over the Executive Branch. It’s the height of hypocrisy to watch so many of those people, who believed in our oversight mandate during the Obama years, now preach the exact opposite during the presidency of Donald Trump.
The American people deserve more than a four-page summary, hastily written by two Trump political appointees. Until the full report is released, it is both impossible and irresponsible to draw conclusions based on the few select phrases included in the attorney general’s summary.
Imagine how Republicans would have reacted if a report like this was turned over to Eric Holder and all he was willing to share was a four-page summary. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Oversight Republicans would have immediately subpoenaed the report, demanded all the supporting documents and evidence and held multiple hearings with the report’s author as well as the attorney general.
This has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Donald Trump, but rather the consistent belief that the American people deserve to be trusted with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.