Did Rep. Elijah Cummings Lie?

California Rep. Darrell Issa adjourned a House Oversight hearing after IRS official Lois Lerner pleaded the Fifth, refusing to answer even one of his questions about the IRS targeting conservative groups.

After 15 minutes, he gave up and said, “Seeking the truth is the obligation of this committee. I have no expectation that Miss Lerner will cooperate with this committee and therefore we stand adjourned.”

As soon as Issa closed the hearing, Democratic Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings said he wanted to make a “statement.” 

When he realized Issa wasn’t going to let him make a statement in a hearing that was for the sole purpose of trying to get answers from Lerner about the IRS targeting, Cummings switched gears and said he wanted to ask a “procedural question.”

Cummings: Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a procedural question.

Notice that he’s sticking with that, instead of repeating that he has a statement.

Issa: We’re adjourned.

Cummings: Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this. You just cannot do this.

Oh, yes we can! If we’ve learned anything from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, you can run a committee just like this. And worse—Issa’s adjournment of the hearing was nothing compared to Reid’s refusing to allow Republicans to add amendments to the bill extending emergency unemployment benefits. It is nothing compared to Reid’s blocking bills from House Republicans to reduce federal regulations, allow for more energy independence, reform job training programs, help schools recruit good teachers, and scale back Obamacare.

Cummings: We’re better than that as a country. We’re better than that as a committee. I have asked for a few minutes to ask a procedural question.

But first you said it was a statement….

[Mic cut]

Cummings: And now you’re turning me off.

Issa: We are adjourned.

Cummings: The fact is I’m asking a question. I am a ranking member of this committee and I want to ask a question. What are we hiding? What’s the big deal? May I ask my question? May I state my statement?

Issa: We are adjourned, but the gentleman may ask his question.

Cummings: Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, I have one procedural question and it goes to trying to help you get the information, by the way, that you just asked.

Oh really, well this should be helpful. It’s good to know Cummings wants to get to the truth of the IRS violating the rights of American citizens. Makes one wonder why he didn’t ask Lerner any questions.

Issa: What’s your question?

Cummings: No, let me say what I have to say. I’ve listened to you for the last 15 or 20 minutes. Let me say what I have to say.

Um, he is letting you say what you have to say. Didn’t you have a question? You said you had a question. Or is it a statement? You initially said you have a statement.

Issa: Miss Lerner, you’re released.

Cummings: But first I would like to use my time to make some brief points.

What? I thought you had a question. Or a statement. Now, you want to make some brief points? How far down the rabbit hole are we going to go with this?

Cummings: For the past year, the central Republican accusation in this investigation…

Okay, here we go, it’s about the Republicans. I see.

[Mic off]

Issa: We’re adjourned. Close it down.

Cummings: …has been that there was political collusion directed by or on behalf of the White House. Before our committee received a single document or interviewed one witness, Chairman Issa went on national television and said, and I quote, “This was the targeting of the president’s political enemies effectively, and lies about it during the election year.” End of quote.

Issa: Ask your question.

Cummings: If you will sit down, and allow me to ask the question…

You had your opportunity to ask your question, but you didn’t. You launched off in an attack on the chairman. You never intended to ask a question.

Cummings: I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America. I am tired of this. We have members over here each who represent between them 700,000 people. You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that. That is absolutely un-American.

Now, what exactly does he mean by “one-sided investigation”? This is important because if he means both Democrats and Republicans need to be participating in the investigation, then where are the Democrats? If anything, they have impeded the investigation, not participated in it. 

Issa: We had a hearing. The hearing’s adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to ask a question. You had no question.

Cummings: I do have a question.

Issa: I gave you time…you gave speech.

Cummings: Chairman, what are you hiding?

Where did that come from? But, this is exactly what Cummings was getting to. The one-sided investigation comment now comes to light. The one-sidedness of the investigation has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans both participating in the investigation of the IRS or with Cummings being able to make a statement, or ask a question, or make some brief points, but with the Republicans themselves being investigated. If Issa is going to question Lerner, then Issa must be questioned.

Off-Camera: He’s taking the Fifth, Elijah.

That person gets it—it’s not about getting to the truth of why Lerner is taking the Fifth; it’s about turning the tables on Issa and the Republicans and making them out to be the real threat—not a massive government willing to violate the rights of citizens for political power.

As for that procedural question, I never heard it. Did you? Of course not. That was a lie. The Democratic Party isn’t about seeking the truth. It’s about deflection, misdirection, and cover-up. If we don’t realize that, accept it, and fight it, we’re lost.