Before the midterm elections Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) railed about the misconduct of the Obama administration and even went on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and told the uber-conservative pundit that President Barack Obama was “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” With a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and Senate within sight, Congressman Issa vowed that as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he would bring justice to Washington. But on CNN’s “Situation Room,” Darrell Issa stepped back a little from remarks he made during the campaign.
“It was a campaign,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “and I make no bones about it – if I had to do it over again I’d have parsed my words a little more carefully.”
Still, Issa insisted on using “corrupt” as a descriptor of Obama. “When you hand a president nearly a trillion dollars in walking around money, he uses it for political paybacks, that’s corrupt.”
But when Wolf Blitzer pressed him on the point of Obama’s personal corruptness, Issa completely stepped away from his earlier accusation. “Do I think the president is personally corrupt, no, I should never have implied that or created that in a quick statement on a radio call-in.”
He explained to Blitzer what he felt his and the Reform Committee’s role was: “Our committee is supposed to be about finding ways to – creating reform, making government do its job, and do it within a smaller budget, not a larger budget.”
Issa said that he wanted bipartisan cooperation and would continue the work begun by the Democratic-led Reform Committee. He said his chairmanship would not see a “witch-hunt” of members of previous administrations. However, his carefully worded statements to Blitzer, were far less ominous than other statements he has made prior to and after the midterm elections.
Issa is a man with a mission. He told Politico that he wanted hundreds of hearings. He wanted the seven subcommittees under his control to hold at least one or two hearings per week. “I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks,” he said.
And what kind of investigations would Issa be interested in? He told Chris Wallace on Fox New Sunday that he was interested in going after Countrywide and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, organizations that he characterized as causing the mortgage meltdown and housing market collapse. He mentioned ACORN and alleged incidents of voter intimidation. He has even trumpeted going after the Obama administration on numerous occasions for supposedly “bribing” Senator Joe Sestak (D-PA) with a government position in exchange for his not entering the Pennsylvania senatorial race (which makes little sense in that the President can appoint anyone he wishes to government posts — with Congressional approval). Still, it is understood that Darrell Issa is gunning for President Obama and other high-ranking members of his administration, possibly for impeachment — regardless of his more conciliatory remarks to Politico and CNN.
Democrats are looking for a return to the Republican witch-hunt days of the Clinton administration. And they just might see it.
But why would Darrell Issa back away from the confrontational rhetoric he brandished so cavalierly during the midterm election campaign? Possibly because the Republicans didn’t win the Senate, something he would need to remove President Obama and any other elected official that might be impeached by the House of Representatives. In fact, he would need a two-thirds majority of the Senate to convict and remove an individual from office, a majority he now knows he cannot achieve.
But will that stop Issa from deposing and subpoenaing every Democrat in Washington, even though he lately has said he didn’t expect to use the power of subpoena often or lightly? That depends on whether one believes pre-election Darrell Issa or post-election Darrell Issa.
Republicans have an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives. They do not need a Senate conviction to reach a decision of impeachment and, therefore, embarrass the sitting president.
The Obama administration has been notified. The siege begins on January 3, 2011.