AP Photo/Cliff Owen
Cliff Owen

Between Congress and the White House, trust runs both ways

Updated
One of the more common talking points from congressional Republicans in recent months is that they have an excuse for refusing to govern or work on public policy: they don’t trust President Obama, an out-of-control, dictatorial tyrant, to follow the law. It may be a ridiculous argument, but GOP leaders use it routinely to explain their inability to pass, among other things, immigration reform.
 
But perhaps the more salient concern in Washington is whether the White House can reasonably trust congressional Republicans.
 
Take this story, for example.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss said he “absolutely” would have raised “holy Hell” publicly had he gotten wind of the proposed released of five Taliban officials in a prisoner swap.
 
The Big Eight as they are called – party leaders and top Intelligence panel lawmakers in both the House and the Senate – are typically given advance notice of high-profile classified maneuvers by the administration, such as the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. That didn’t happen with the exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
 
Neither did the White House follow a law requiring 30-day notice to Congress over Bergdahl’s release over fears that Congress would leak them.
Chambliss effectively insisted yesterday that he would, in fact, have leaked. Indeed, the conservative Georgian practically boasted yesterday he would have publicly expressed his opposition to the transfer swap if he’d been notified.
 
“I’d have raised holy Hell,” the Republican senator told **Politico. “Absolutely.”
 
Chambliss soon after added that he was “referring to raising hell in the press about the Taliban officials’ release.”
 
This is no small acknowledgement.
 
The White House said it needed to rely on secrecy given the delicacy of the process …
The White House kept its plan to trade five Taliban fighters for captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl a secret from Congress because the Taliban threatened to kill Bergdahl if news of the swap leaked before it happened, the AP reported Thursday.
… and here we have the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee saying he would have “raised holy Hell” in the media if he’d known about the swap involving Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
 
It appears, then, that the Georgia senator is both complaining and proving the White House right simultaneously. Administration officials were worried about members of Congress talking about the prisoner swap publicly and here we have a key GOP senator saying he would have talked about the prisoner swap publicly.
 
The West Wing was worried about Congress leaking, and Chambliss, though outraged by the move itself, seems to agree that those fears were well grounded.
 
Is it me or is the substantive debate over Bergdahl going very poorly for Republicans?
 

Bowe Bergdahl and Saxby Chambliss

Between Congress and the White House, trust runs both ways

Updated