House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (MD) erupted into a fight at a hearing on Thursday over possible Russian interference in our election.
The fight started when the two sides discussed a possible Oversight investigation into the phishing schemes against the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Democrats argued it must happen:
“It’s clear that politics have prevented this committee from being willing or able to do the necessary objective and nonpartisan oversight on the Russian attack,” said Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.).
The chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), argued that studying sources and methods used to draw an intelligence conclusion is the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Committee and, further, that it would be “inappropriate” for Oversight to “dive into the private systems of a political party.”
The Democrats did not buy Chaffetz’s argument. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) told Chaffetz that an investigation belongs to this committee.
Tempers continued to rise and Chaffetz asked Cummings, “who has introduced legislation to establish an independent commission on the matter,” if he supported the probe:
“I think the thing that I’m most concerned about is that we cannot just turn a blind eye when we have 17 intelligence agencies who unanimously agree [that Russia interfered in the U.S. elections],” Cummings said. “You and I know what happened with the Benghazi Committee — it became a partisan fight.”
“The gentleman’s time is expired here. You’re going well outside the scope of this discussion—” an impatient Chaffetz cut in.
“I’m not. No, I’m not. I would pray that you not — don’t do that,” Cummings shot back.
The committee’s two leading members continued to talk over one another.
“I just want an answer to a simple question—” Chaffetz said.
“I’ve answered it. I’ve told you, yes,” Cummings said.
“I’m gonna ask one more time—”
“I just answered you—” a visibly annoyed Cummings snapped. “I just answered you. You’re not listening!”
You can feel the discomfort in the room. The officials from the Office of Personnel Management, the National Background Investigations Bureau, and the Defense Department sat in silence drinking their coffee as the congressmen bickering.DONATE
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