House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) just hasn’t had a great year. His efforts to manufacture scandals have been a bust. His confrontations with Democrats have been embarrassing. His selective leaks to gullible reporters have backfired.
But the far-right congressman arguably suffered his greatest humiliation in May when House GOP leaders decided his investigation into the Benghazi attack was so inept, they took the issue away from him. It led to the creation of a new committee, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Calif.), whom Republicans considered more reliable.
The move didn’t just embarrass Issa; it actually seemed to change him.
Suddenly, the Oversight Committee chairman started unilaterally issuing a bunch of unnecessary subpoenas, despite having promised not to. He scheduled hearings at weird times, apparently hoping to spite other Republican committee chairs. He accused the Obama White House of violating the Hatch Act, and when pressed for proof, Issa pointed to events that took place under the Bush/Cheney White House.
Andrew Prokop is wondering whether Issa has suddenly “gone rogue.”
A group of House Republicans (and one Democrat) led by House Oversight chair Darrell Issa has traveled to Central America on a fact-finding mission related to the child migrant crisis. This is a little strange, since a different group of House Republicans just returned from a very similar trip days ago – a trip organized and approved by House leadership.Though Issa’s office denies it, Jonathan Strong of Breitbart News quotes a Republican source calling Issa’s trip a “rival” effort to the leadership’s.
This is pretty odd behavior for a lawmaker in Issa’s position.
The calendar is no doubt adding pressure to the committee chairman. Issa’s tenure with the Oversight Committee gavel is set to end at the end of this Congress, and though the California Republican would reportedly love to stay on as chair, no one seems to think that’s likely.
Instead, Issa will depart having accomplished practically nothing – and the congressman doesn’t seem to be handling this realization well.
Looking ahead, Issa is reportedly looking into possible contempt charges against David Simas, the director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, whom Issa has accused of Hatch Act violations for no particular reason. The White House agreed to answer questions for Issa’s office in a detailed briefing this week, but despite his purported interest, Issa himself did not attend the briefing.
The Oversight Committee chair is reportedly studying the 2008 process in which then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers ignored a congressional subpoena to testify on the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal and was then held in contempt. Issa is apparently hoping to use this as a model against Simas.
Of course, during the Miers controversy, Issa was so disgusted by the process at the time that he staged a walk-out on the House floor along with dozens of other House Republicans.