WH defies Oversight subpoena to political director

posted at 9:21 am on July 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Peter Allen once sang, “Everything old is new again,” and that’s never more true than in Washington. Congress has taken an interest in White House political activities and demands testimony from the president’s political director to see whether actions in the West Wing cross the Hatch Act line, and the White House claims executive privilege. Is the witness Harriet Miers, or David Simas? Welcome to DC déja vu:

The White House said Tuesday night that it would refuse to allow its director of political strategy to testify Wednesday before a Republican-led House committee investigating whether the administration had illegally conducted political activity in the West Wing.

In a letter to Representative Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the president’s top lawyer said that as a member of the executive branch the political director, David Simas, had immunity from being compelled to testify before Congress.

Mr. Issa’s committee subpoenaed Mr. Simas last week, contending that the White House should not have opened the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach this year. Mr. Issa told the White House in May that “the American people have a right to know if their tax dollars are being spent to support congressional campaigns during the 2014 midterm elections in violation of federal law.”

The White House response called this a fishing expedition, challenging Issa to come up with any evidence of the law being broken at all. Issa, undaunted, plans to hold the hearings anyway, and rebutted the executive privilege claim with the precedent set by Democrats during the Bush administration:

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Issa said he would proceed with the hearing to find out whether “President Obama actually intends to assert executive privilege.”

The California Republican said a federal court had “already rejected” the notion senior presidential advisers were exempt from congressional subpoena. He pointed to a 2008 ruling in which a federal court ruled that Bush advisers Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton must obey congressional subpoenas.

“Flouting a federal judge’s opinion about our system of checks and balances is yet another attack on our Nation’s Constitution by this President,” Issa said.

“Assertions that this Administration’s taxpayer-funded political efforts should be above Congressional oversight are absurd,” he added.

Issa is investigating the relaunch of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach earlier this year. The Republican lawmaker says he’s concerned the White House has used staffers for partisan campaign activities, which are prohibited under the Hatch Act.

Let’s just say that the executive privilege claim is a little murkier than it normally would be, thanks to the Miers precedent. Democrats insisted that the demands for resignations from several US Attorneys — who are presidential appointees, serving at the pleasure of the President — was a scandal, and began Congressional investigations into the terminations. The Bush administration’s offer of private, off-the-record interviews with both Miers and Josh Bolten was rejected by Nancy Pelosi, and the House voted both in contempt for refusing to appear — even though there was nothing illegal about asking for resignations from political appointees and both officials were in the circle of advisers normally covered by a privilege claim. As noted, a federal judge sided with Congress, although the Supreme Court never weighed in on the question. And in the end, nothing came of the so-called scandal.

Pelosi’s actions established a carte blanche for this kind of aggressive demand, and it’s doubtful that then-Senator Obama had much objection to it. Issa may or may not be conducting a fishing expedition, but Obama and his fellow Democrats have certainly fished out a petard. This investigation into the political activities of the current administration probably won’t produce anything memorable either, except the hypocrisy of hiding behind claims of executive privilege and a lack of evidence of any wrongdoing. That wasn’t the Democratic standard in 2007-8.


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Office of Political Strategy and Outreach

The entire office is one big campaign violation.

So is OFA, which by the way, obtained its tax exempt status without delay.

forest on July 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Steve Hayes was just on Fox and says the White House is right about this one

Cindy Munford on July 16, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Has Sleazy Eric “Hustler” Holder called everybody racist today yet?

viking01 on July 16, 2014 at 9:26 AM

And in the end, nothing came of the so-called scandal.
– Ed

Well encouraging to at least know that line is printable here.

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

The White House response called this a fishing expedition, challenging Issa to come up with any evidence of the law being broken at all. Issa, undaunted, plans to hold the hearings anyway, and rebutted the executive privilege claim with the precedent set by Democrats during the Bush administration:

Nixon’s personal tapes were subject to subpoena by Congress. These fascists have no leg to stand on.

rbj on July 16, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Hey, Issa, why don’t you stay focused on the Benghazi, VA, and IRS scandals. This seems pretty small potatoes to me.

Bitter Clinger on July 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Hey, Issa, why don’t you stay focused on the Benghazi, VA, and IRS scandals. This seems pretty small potatoes to me.

Bitter Clinger on July 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

These violations carry substantial weight…but, Issa has a big staff, they can handle all of this and more…in fact I am pretty sure they will have to in the future.

This administration is coming unraveled…

right2bright on July 16, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Hey, Issa, why don’t you stay focused on the Benghazi, VA, and IRS scandals. This seems pretty small potatoes to me.

Bitter Clinger on July 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

They took the Benghazi show away from him.
He’s the GOP’s Julie Taymor. (A nod to Ed’s Peter Allen ref.)
The Spiderman:Turn Off The Dark re-boot didn’t work either.

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Instead of executive privilege Obama should just assert his monarchical privilege which overides Congress and the Judicial branch completely.

darwin on July 16, 2014 at 9:41 AM

May I suggest that the NSA will have all internal communications and other media that Issa needs. ASk them for it.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM

May I suggest that the NSA will have all internal communications and other media that Issa needs. ASk them for it.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM

And while you’re at it Issa, ask the NSA for some info on Verbaluce. You’ll probably find out he’s a HA shill.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 9:43 AM

These violations carry substantial weight…but, Issa has a big staff, they can handle all of this and more…in fact I am pretty sure they will have to in the future.

This administration is coming unraveled…

right2bright on July 16, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Well then, there had better be a payoff somewhere along the line. Because Issa has done a lot of investigating and spending our tax dollars of these scandals with nothing to show for them.

Bitter Clinger on July 16, 2014 at 9:46 AM

And while you’re at it Issa, ask the NSA for some info on Verbaluce. You’ll probably find out he’s a HA shill.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 9:43 AM

You’re on an Issa thread…objecting to shills?

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Well then, there had better be a payoff somewhere along the line. Because Issa has done a lot of investigating and spending our tax dollars of these scandals with nothing to show for them.

Bitter Clinger on July 16, 2014 at 9:46 AM

The process, the procedures are an effort, agreed. But you can’t just charge people with crimes without due process, especially people who are so well protected…it takes some “break through” like it did with Nixon…he would have never been found guilty or forced to leave without “deep throat”.

Look how Clinton stalled and look at how many were willing and did testify?

I think Issa is doing as good as job as expected, when you assume 1/2 of his colleagues are fighting him, and 100% of whom he is investigating is being protected by the administration…with no help form the Attorney General, none…

right2bright on July 16, 2014 at 9:58 AM

You’re on an Issa thread…objecting to shills?

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 9:56 AM

I’m objecting to you.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 9:58 AM

OT: Erickson has some info on who paid for the ads against McDaniel painting conservatives and tea partiers as racist. Can you say McConnell & Co.?

M240H on July 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

You’re on an Issa thread…objecting to shills?

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 9:56 AM

I’m objecting to you.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Oh, ok.
I thought you might have an actual point to make.

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 10:05 AM

The fact that we even have a Office of Political Strategy and Outreach” in the White House is PROOF that our tax dollars are funding political campaigns. How much more of this blatant disregard for the rule of law must we take? ENOUGH!

Armyspouse on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Oh, ok.
I thought you might have an actual point to make.

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 10:05 AM

If I did, it would be lost on you. But thanks for playing.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM

yay the racist is here

dmacleo on July 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM

M240H on July 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

But didn’t we already know this and I doubt it is illegal.

Cindy Munford on July 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM

The delay gives them time for the hard drives to crash.

Mr. D on July 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM

M240H on July 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM
But didn’t we already know this and I doubt it is illegal.

Cindy Munford on July 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Yes, we knew this. No, it’s not illegal, but it is mighty contemptuous of ‘the base’. So, I note it to remind folks where not to send their money.

M240H on July 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM

And in the end, nothing came of the so-called scandal.

I wouldn’t say that.
Wasn’t Alberto Gonzalez hounded out of office over this ‘scandal’?

Dexter_Alarius on July 16, 2014 at 10:28 AM

If I did, it would be lost on you. But thanks for playing.

Walter L. Newton on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM

I’m sure none of your ‘points’ are lost on the back patters and lap sitters you’re more comfortable playing with.
Maybe next time don’t come knocking?

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Well encouraging to at least know that line is printable here.

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Organized and systematic zeroes and ones are not “print”.

But I’d expect nothing less from someone perpetually living in 1968.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on July 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM

In WWII, medics would tag some men with AOE – Accumulation Of Everything (battle fatigue, exhaustion, various diseases).

Issa’s doing right here. The more to throw against the Choom Gang, the better.

Don’t let them get away with anything.

formwiz on July 16, 2014 at 10:48 AM

M240H on July 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Excellent point. I think my only donations will be made to candidates directly.

Cindy Munford on July 16, 2014 at 10:51 AM

The fact that we even have a Office of Political Strategy and Outreach” in the White House is PROOF that our tax dollars are funding political campaigns. How much more of this blatant disregard for the rule of law must we take? ENOUGH!

Armyspouse on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM

That absolutely correct understanding would be completely lost on leftists of any kind.

rlwo2008 on July 16, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Hmm, I wonder if the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach was very active in pushing and coordinating the Administration’s objections to the SCOTUS Citizen’s United case…to the point of coordinating messaging and ‘outreach’ against Citizen’s United and silencing conservative organizations across other parts of the Executive Branch….

Who knows, maybe the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach had some curiously timed hard drive crashes…

Athos on July 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Hey, Issa, why don’t you stay focused on the Benghazi, VA, and IRS scandals. This seems pretty small potatoes to me.

Bitter Clinger on July 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

…I’m starting to think…Issa can’t complete…even taking a shit!

JugEarsButtHurt on July 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Maybe a law suit will fix all of this. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Kissmygrits on July 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM

BAM! Issa and his committee just released audio recording of Hilda Solis soliciting campaign donations and support illegally. He was 1 step ahead of the precious!

shanimal on July 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM

I’m starting to think…Issa can’t complete…even taking a shit!

JugEarsButtHurt on July 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM

In this “environment” with obama openly ignoring the law , the Media covering up for their Messiah, and the Federal Courts stacked with Libs, I can’t really fault Issa…

sandee on July 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Steve Hayes was just on Fox and says the White House is right about this one
Cindy Munford on July 16, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Issa played a voicemail left by then-Sec of Labor Hilda Solis actively soliciting for a zero fundraiser–and it appears to be a violation of the Hatch Act.

You know the Hatch Act–it’s one of the li’l laws WitHolder isn’t prosecuting…

Newtie and the Beauty on July 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Maybe a law suit will fix all of this. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Kissmygrits on July 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM

I’m beginning to think that Boehner is going to use a lawsuit or two to support Articles of Impeachment, possibly on more than one front.

This could get interesting REAL quick-like…

Newtie and the Beauty on July 16, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Hmm, I wonder if the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach was very active in pushing and coordinating the Administration’s objections to the SCOTUS Citizen’s United case…to the point of coordinating messaging and ‘outreach’ against Citizen’s United and silencing conservative organizations across other parts of the Executive Branch….
Who knows, maybe the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach had some curiously timed hard drive crashes…
Athos on July 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Or that’s where all roads lead… o_O

No wonder POUTS wants his patoot armour-plated protected.

Newtie and the Beauty on July 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM

They took the Benghazi show away from him.

verbaluce on July 16, 2014 at 9:39 AM

And handed it to a Select Committee headed by Trey Gowdy.

Pee off.

Newtie and the Beauty on July 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM

The Land of Thugs

Schadenfreude on July 16, 2014 at 11:35 AM

The White House response called this a fishing expedition

No, the real fishing expedition is when Obama is compelled to testify.

Popcorn, anyone?

CiLH1 on July 16, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Can anyone imagine Nixon getting away with a stunt like this. When he called for the presidential privilege the demos only laughed at him and than proceeded to get him out of office. Now there is NOT one Demo that will call out the crimes this obama does.

garydt on July 16, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Someone(s) in the WH needs to spend some quality time in jail, starting now!

sadatoni on July 16, 2014 at 12:29 PM

You ever notice that anything Issa touches never really
goes anywhere ? Nothing ever comes to a conclusion
and no one is held responsible .
You might think Holder has Issa’s skeletons covered up
and will expose them if he goes too far .
( and yes I know about the old car dealer stuff )

Lucano on July 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha – the worm turns…

vnvet on July 16, 2014 at 1:42 PM

I’m sorry, but after looking at that pic can we put to rest the meme that Conservative women are beautiful and Liberal women are well, you know…

Mon Dieu!

—-

I am hard-pressed to think of any time that Congressional hearings ever solved anything? Really, if someone has a list to the contrary I’d love to see it.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 16, 2014 at 3:00 PM