Obama administration stonewalling Issa on document demand?

posted at 12:15 pm on February 2, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The epicenter of the Republican fight to roll back the expansion of executive power is at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — and we’re already starting to see fireworks.  After taking the chair, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) requested that the Department of Homeland Security release a number of documents relating to policies and earlier testimony before Congress.  So far, the response from the White House has been to ignore Issa, and Issa is none too pleased:

Yesterday, The Daily Caller reported that the Obama administration had snubbed top GOP oversight official Rep. Darrell Issa on his first major document deadline as new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sending a short letter promising to comply in response to a major information request that was due Saturday at noon.

Jan. 28 letter from the Department of Homeland Security said the agency is “in the process of retrieving” documents requested by Issa “and will make them available for your review expeditiously.”

But the next day, Issa’s two-week deadline expired.

Now Issa is hitting back with a forceful response that demands key documents by Thursday.

What happens if the DHS fails to comply by tomorrow?  Issa may issue subpoenas for top officials to explain to his panel why they have failed to cooperate with Congressional oversight.  The Democrats on the committee may try to block the subpoenas, but they will soon discover that ending up in the minority means losing control over that process, and a number of others as well.

Besides, that would only play into Issa’s hands.  As his response indicates and the Daily Caller notes, Issa isn’t on a fishing expedition; someone at DHS, or perhaps several people, are informing him of real issues with their previous statements and conduct:

During the week of January 10th, my staff obtained material that called into question the statements supplied by the Department during the September briefing. …

While the Department has announced its intention to cooperate with the Committee, I was disappointed to learn that on or about January 20, 2011, DHS’s Office of General Counsel instructed career staff in the Privacy Office not to search for documents responsive to my request.

The pushback comes as a bit of a power play from ranking member Elijah Cummings, who vaulted over former chair Edolphus Towns and two other more senior Democrats to reach that position.  Roll Call reports on Cummings’ attempts to justify his new position:

Tensions have flared between the California Republican and Maryland Democrat over the past month on everything from whether the minority will be allowed to provide opening statements at hearings and have input over subpoenas to whether Democrats will be allowed to call witnesses.

The battles have largely played out in letters between the two lawmakers and through the media. The latest salvo came earlier this week when Cummings tried to circumvent Issa by trying to obtain materials from industry groups that the chairman declined to immediately share with minority staff. …

While Issa has served as the top Republican on the panel since 2008, this is his first turn leading the committee. He has set an aggressive agenda: calling for hearings seven days a week while also moving to aggressively investigate Obama’s signature health care reform law and federal stimulus program.

Cummings is also feeling out his role as the leading Democrat on the committee. The veteran Marylander leapfrogged two more senior Members of his party, including former Chairman Edolphus Towns (N.Y.), for the ranking member slot. In taking on the job, Cummings tapped a seasoned investigative hand. Earlier this year, he brought on David Rapallo, the top attorney to Obama’s National Security Council, to be the Democratic staff director. Rapallo formerly served for 11 years as a minority subcommittee director for the committee, and later as chief investigative counsel for Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), who was then the panel’s top Democrat.

The White House has apparently decided to play along with Cummings in attempting to slow Issa’s charge into oversight of the Obama administration.  However, the lack of responsiveness holds a great deal of political peril.  If they continue to stonewall Issa, they could set some of their staff up for contempt of Congress charges, as well as paint themselves as opaque and defensive — and leave the distinct impression that they have something to hide.  It’s early in Obama’s experience with split power in the Beltway, but so far, he’s off to a poor start.


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Defund Obama’s motorcade until he releases the docs.

fossten on February 2, 2011 at 12:17 PM

or cut off Michelle’s lobster and champagne.

ORconservative on February 2, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Oh yessss.

Fortunata on February 2, 2011 at 12:21 PM

congress needs to cut the argula budget….

right4life on February 2, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Mr. President, What did you know, and when did you know it?

portlandon on February 2, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Opaque transparency

rjoco1 on February 2, 2011 at 12:23 PM

BRING IT ON!

SDarchitect on February 2, 2011 at 12:23 PM

DHS’s Office of General Counsel instructed career staff in the Privacy Office not to search for documents responsive to my request.

So, they’re not just stonewalling, they’re outright refusing. Why ask the question?

rrpjr on February 2, 2011 at 12:24 PM

President Nixon paging John Mitchell; Mr. Mitchell, are you there?

mjbrooks3 on February 2, 2011 at 12:24 PM

And what happens if they ignore Issa’s subpoenas? (I wouldn’t be surprised if they choose this route. There is a climate of lawlessness in D.C. these days.) Then what?

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Threaten to subpoena Obama’s long form birth certificate. What the hell, do it anyway.

NNtrancer on February 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

“Fill the jails…!!!”

Seven Percent Solution on February 2, 2011 at 12:26 PM

MOST TRANSPARENT EVAH!

SDarchitect on February 2, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I hope Issa uses every means he has to get these worms to give him the document’s he wants! bho and team think they are above the law and they need to be shown they are not!
L

letget on February 2, 2011 at 12:27 PM

“Most honest, most open, most transparent administration, evah!”

Another promise with an expiration date.

GarandFan on February 2, 2011 at 12:28 PM

So, they’re not just stonewalling, they’re outright refusing. Why ask the question?

rrpjr on February 2, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Issa is giving the WH all the rope it wants. Said rope to be used to hang the WH during contempt hearings.

BobMbx on February 2, 2011 at 12:28 PM

The epicenter of the Republican fight to roll back the expansion of executive power is at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — and we’re already starting to see fireworks.

And this is only the beginning…..pass the popcorn & the 3-D glasses!

huskerdiva on February 2, 2011 at 12:29 PM

If they continue to stonewall Issa, they could set some of their staff up for contempt of Congress charges, as well as paint themselves as opaque and defensive — and leave the distinct impression that they have something to hide.

Ed, you are joking. Right?

VegasRick on February 2, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Hang ‘em High!

txdoc on February 2, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Keep on truckin issa

cmsinaz on February 2, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Issa is giving the WH all the rope it wants. Said rope to be used to hang the WH during contempt hearings.

BobMbx on February 2, 2011 at 12:28 PM

ding-ding-ding…..we have a winner! I would only add perjury to the contempt hearings….

huskerdiva on February 2, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Why the question mark on the headline, Ed?

The time for “fairness” is long past. Osama Obama’s regime, under orders from the Traitor-in-Chief himself, considers itself above the law.

I suppose we have to wait until he has taken full revenge on the country he clearly despises before anything is done. After all, it could all be a simple mistake, right?

As for me, I think today would be a fine time for some patriotic American in the House to introduce an impeachment resolution.

MrScribbler on February 2, 2011 at 12:31 PM

And what happens if they ignore Issa’s subpoenas? (I wouldn’t be surprised if they choose this route. There is a climate of lawlessness in D.C. these days.) Then what?

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Tar and pitchforks, Feathers and torches. Not necessarily in that order.

44Magnum on February 2, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Don’t be surprised if they ignore each and every request from Issa, no matter how small or insignificant, as a matter of pure principle. Think the Clinton admin. stonewalling tactics on steriods – they’ll fight tooth and nail to preserve their docs and those that they really don’t want to produce will be conveniently “misplaced”. Issa had better realize who he’s dealing with here because if he doesn’t play hardball right back they’ll steamroll him legally and politically.

volnation on February 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Barry is Nixon without the likability or intelligence

phreshone on February 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

This is Clintonian. It worked so well for them and our dear leader does have a lot of former Clinton people in the WH saying, see this is how you do it.

Kissmygrits on February 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

This is businessd as usual in Chicago. Chicago on the Potomac!

rjoco1 on February 2, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Come clean Bambi. As we all know, the cover up is often much worse than the crime!

MJBrutus on February 2, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Barry is Nixon on steroids without the likability or intelligence

phreshone on February 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

FIFY

huskerdiva on February 2, 2011 at 12:35 PM

This is Clintonian. It worked so well for them and our dear leader does have a lot of former Clinton people in the WH saying, see this is how you do it.

Kissmygrits on February 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Clintonian? Heck no, this is Nixonian!

MJBrutus on February 2, 2011 at 12:36 PM

It will be depressing to watch the media continuing to smear Issa over 25 year-old business disputes (New Yorker last week) while ignoring Obama’s stonewalling. Pretty soon, Obama will turn loose their version of Carville to go after Issa.

johnboy on February 2, 2011 at 12:39 PM

And what happens if they ignore Issa’s subpoenas? (I wouldn’t be surprised if they choose this route. There is a climate of lawlessness in D.C. these days.) Then what?

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Ignore a Congressional subpoena at your own risk. This is what the US Marshall service is for.

It is a jailable offense, for contempt of court, not contempt of Congress.

BobMbx on February 2, 2011 at 12:40 PM

44Magnum on February 2, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Careful there. That’s banning rhetoric.

Seriously, what will/can Issa do legally if they refuse the subpoena? Arrest them? Go into their offices and search the computers for themselves?

I imagine the media will go crazy if they do this, ala Clinton impeachments, and play the victim card for Obama and his minions. I’m talking about following the rule of law. What is the next step for Issa if the Obama Administration ignores the subpoenas?

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Documents? What documents?

I don’t have no stinkin’ documents!

UnderstandingisPower on February 2, 2011 at 12:43 PM

BobMbx on February 2, 2011 at 12:28 PM

I agree. But I’m asking why this thread is framed as a question. It’s not debatable. They’re stonewalling.

rrpjr on February 2, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Ignore a Congressional subpoena at your own risk. This is what the US Marshall service is for.

It is a jailable offense, for contempt of court, not contempt of Congress.

BobMbx on February 2, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Ok, thanks. I seriously wonder if they would arrest these people. Politics, optics, and lawlessness seem to trump law and order, e.g., Obama & Democrats ignoring the federal ruling voiding Obamacare.

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:44 PM

volnation on February 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

and the dems & blm will back him up all the way….

cmsinaz on February 2, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Like bringing a gun to a knife fight.

Hening on February 2, 2011 at 12:45 PM

I agree. But I’m asking why this thread is framed as a question. It’s not debatable. They’re stonewalling.

rrpjr on February 2, 2011 at 12:43 PM

I think Ed is being overly diplomatic in this post.

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Rapallo formerly served for 11 years as a minority subcommittee director for the committee, and later as chief investigative counsel for Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), who was then the panel’s top Democrat.

Helluva resume.

a capella on February 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM

And what happens if they ignore Issa’s subpoenas? (I wouldn’t be surprised if they choose this route. There is a climate of lawlessness in D.C. these days.) Then what?

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Then Issa goes to war, and the media calls him a racist.

fossten on February 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Then Issa goes to war, and the media calls him a racist.

fossten on February 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM

The new Ken Starr

darwin-t on February 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM

If they continue to stonewall Issa, they could set some of their staff up for contempt of Congress charges, as well as paint themselves as opaque and defensive — and leave the distinct impression that they have something to hide.
Ed, you are joking. Right?

VegasRick on February 2, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Relax, they aren’t hiding anything. They are just jerking the Republicans around so that they can make us look like wingnuts. Why, these Republicans are nothing but a loony bunch of “Documenters”. Obama would never hide anything.

//Sarc

mrsmwp on February 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Obama will double down. Watch him use executive priveledge to hide how many times BO craps on the lawn.

Mord on February 2, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Obama would never hide anything.

//Sarc

mrsmwp on February 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Obama could hide behind a corkscrew.

VegasRick on February 2, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Wanna get the documents quickly?
Impound Teh Won’s favorite putter unitl the documents are delivered. You’ll have em all by Tee time.

VelvetElvis on February 2, 2011 at 12:55 PM

If course he is being stonewalled. What did he expect? Transparency? The question is how long is it going to take him to start dragging career bureaucrats into the hotseat under threat of contempt charges and loss of their jobs? Wanna get the political appointees attention? Start picking off the pissants who work for them.

kens on February 2, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Executive branch delays to Congressional requests isn’t new. It has been done for the entire history of the country since Washington. By Democrats, Republicans, Whigs, and all others. It’s a natural — and healthy — tension between two branches of government.

AngusMc on February 2, 2011 at 12:57 PM

The problem for Democrats is Chuck Schumer is offering checks and balance advise to the 3 branches of government.

Ignorance of that “4th branch” – judicial; may be their downfall.

Odie1941 on February 2, 2011 at 12:58 PM

This bunch has flaunted this country’s rules from day one. It is about time that somebody got serious with them and started playing hardball. Never mind all the nicey nice, it is time to call these bastards out for what they are. Screw the the calls of racist, the calls to civility, there is a coup going on and it needs to be stopped!!!!

retiredeagle on February 2, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Hang ‘em High, Issa

IrishEyes on February 2, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Obama knows he has the media on his side, so it benefits him to play hardball on this.

Issa will have to respond in kind.

Missy on February 2, 2011 at 1:05 PM

And so it goes another corrupt administration setforth, and why would we believe these documents requested have not either been altered, somehow gone missing or better yet destroyed!

justonevictory on February 2, 2011 at 1:09 PM

The sad truth is that no matter the level of corruption in the Obama Administration, and I imagine it is high, the media won’t report it, and if it manages to wiggle its way through, they’ll downplay it with phrasing like “witch hunt,” “racism,” and “politics of hate.” And a lot of folks will buy that. Barry and Co. can get away with just about anything when the MSM has their backs the way it does.

Rational Thought on February 2, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Buying popcorn futures madly . . .

smellthecoffee on February 2, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Obama knows he has the media on his side, so it benefits him to play hardball on this.

Issa will have to respond in kind.

Missy on February 2, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Exactly.

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 1:22 PM

This is simple:

“While the Department has announced its intention to cooperate with the Committee, I was disappointed to learn that on or about January 20, 2011, DHS’s Office of General Counsel instructed career staff in the Privacy Office not to search for documents responsive to my request.”

Subpoena those people for congressional testimony. Subpoena the DHS General Counsel. If they refuse, they are in contempt of court. Then work your way up the crap-chain.

slickwillie2001 on February 2, 2011 at 1:27 PM

IMPEACH NOW.

SAVE THE REPUBLIC TODAY.

That simple.

PappyD61 on February 2, 2011 at 1:28 PM

Consumer Watchdog today sent Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) a 32-page report detailing how Google has inappropriately benefited from its close ties to the Obama Administration, including how NASA’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters, has been turned into a taxpayer-subsidized private airport for Google executives used for corporate junkets.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1983792/consumer_watchdog_sends_issas_oversight_committee_google_report_showing_inappropriate/index.html?source=r_technology

William Amos on February 2, 2011 at 1:30 PM

The problem for Democrats is Chuck Schumer is offering checks and balance advise to the 3 branches of government.

Ignorance of that “4th branch” – judicial; may be their downfall.

Odie1941 on February 2, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Unfortunately….right now we only have TWO BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT functioning effectively.

The Executive branch and the Media (Congress and the Courts are of no consequence to this Administration.

We lost the Republic on January 20, 2009 now we have a OBAMAOCRACY.

Let’s hope we get it back in 2 years.

PappyD61 on February 2, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Tricky Dick…..Slick Willie….Obfuscating Obama

Mallard T. Drake on February 2, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Dude, it’s not lilke he’s asking for a birth certificate.

SKYFOX on February 2, 2011 at 1:33 PM

This bunch has flaunted this country’s rules from day one. It is about time that somebody got serious with them and started playing hardball. Never mind all the nicey nice, it is time to call these bastards out for what they are. Screw the the calls of racist, the calls to civility, there is a coup going on and it needs to be stopped!!!!

retiredeagle on February 2, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Are you better off today than you were 2 years ago?

ted c on November 1, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Yep.

crr6 on November 1, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Del Dolemonte on February 2, 2011 at 1:34 PM

De-fund the TOTUS!

csdeven on February 2, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Shouldn’t wikileaks be all over this?

Christien on February 2, 2011 at 2:12 PM

And what happens if they ignore Issa’s subpoenas?

The media will portray Issa as a violent Tea Party powderkeg who is fomenting political hate. “Pipe down Issa, or you’ll inpsire some nut to go on shooting spree”.

ardenenoch on February 2, 2011 at 2:13 PM

I remember the Watergate hearings – fascinating. Gavel to gavel TV coverage. 319 hours of television were amassed, a record covering a single event. I might even relearn how to turn on one of my televisions if something similar ever aired again. As it is, the TVs are just rather large dust catchers now.

MayorDaley on February 2, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Demand for Acme Industrial Strength Shredders suddenly skyrockets.

BigWyo on February 2, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Geeez I don’t feel sorry for Democrats.

Hey, how’s that 40 year liberal empire work’n out?

Speakup on February 2, 2011 at 2:44 PM

This is Clintonian. It worked so well for them and our dear leader does have a lot of former Clinton people in the WH saying, see this is how you do it.

Kissmygrits on February 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

I am curious who’s going to be stealing & hiding documents in their underpants.

Badger40 on February 2, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Dear Mr. Obama, opaque is the opposite of transparent. I know you think you get to define the meaning of words, but you are wrong.

Go, Issa.

What are they hiding now? Man they just will not be open and honest about anything. Why?

petunia on February 2, 2011 at 2:46 PM

“Shut Up” he explained…”I Won” he continued.

BigWyo on February 2, 2011 at 2:57 PM

…and leave the distinct impression that they have something to hide.

If it walks like a duck………..

iurockhead on February 2, 2011 at 2:59 PM

This link may be interesting to many…

right2bright on February 2, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Demand for Acme Industrial Strength Shredders suddenly skyrockets.

BigWyo on February 2, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Indeed, just what I was wondering…..

Anyone seen trucks like these stationed out in front of Gov’t buildings lately?

rslancer14 on February 2, 2011 at 3:36 PM

And what happens if they ignore Issa’s subpoenas? (I wouldn’t be surprised if they choose this route. There is a climate of lawlessness in D.C. these days.) Then what?

conservative pilgrim on February 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Great question. Isn’t the DHS supposed to enforce these? With DHS in the, er… cross hairs of the investigation and DHS stonewalling it seems we have a banana republic. The SCOTUS is our only hope.

Interestingly, when that dude Zelaya from Honduras started defying their constitution and their Supreme Court ordered him out, the Leftists in this country including Dear Leader called it a “coup” and told Hondurans to reinstate their would-be-Marxists-dictator president.

World leaders from President Barack Obama to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have told the new rulers of the Central American country to restore Zelaya, a leftist who was toppled by the army on Sunday and sent into exile after a dispute over presidential term limits.

Not a good omen for how the crooks in this administration would react to a smack down from the SCOTUS.

NTWR on February 2, 2011 at 5:21 PM