HJC Democrats Do Little to Limit Jim Jordan’s Assault on Public Health and Rule of Law

Jim Jordan, a self-purported libertarian, garnered the love of authoritarian Donald Trump by yelling. And yelling. And yelling.

But his normally obtuse manner of engagement didn’t undermine the dual threat he posed in today’s hearing on the ways Billy Barr is politicizing justice. Democrats failed to get him to abide by the committee rule that he wear a mask when not speaking (not even while sitting in close proximity to Jerry Nadler, whose wife is seriously ill). At one point, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell called him out on it. But Republicans on the committee thwarted the means by which Nadler was enforcing the rule — which was to not recognize anyone not wearing a mask — by yielding their time to Jordan.

Jordan used the time he got to attack the integrity of the witnesses unanswered, make repeated false claims about the conduct of the Russian investigation (both pre-Mueller and under him), and softball Barr’s own actions.

There were exceptions, mind you. Joe Neguse brilliantly got Michael Mukasey to talk about how normal it is — and was for him, when he had the job — for Attorneys General to show up for oversight hearings. Neguse then revealed that the last time an Attorney General had as systematically refused to appear for oversight hearings as Barr, it was Bill Barr, in his first tenure in the job. Val Demings got Mukasey to lay out that Barr himself has said the President was inappropriately interfering in investigations, but no one followed up on the significance of that admission. Likewise, after Demings got Mukasey to affirm a statement he made during confirmation to be Attorney General that he was never asked what his politics were, she didn’t follow up and ask whether it would have been appropriate for Mueller to ask prosecutors about their politics, or even for Republicans to ask Zelinsky about the partisan leanings of Mueller prosecutors in this hearing. No one used Jordan’s repeated questioning of Mukasey about the sheer number of unmaskings of Mike Flynn to ask Mukasey to lay out the real national security questions that might elicit such a concerted response to what was apparently one conversation, to say nothing of testing whether Mukasey actually understood what Jordan was misrepresenting to him.

Worse still, no Democrats asked Mukasey questions that would have laid out how complicit he is with some of Trump’s crimes, particularly the politicization of investigations into Turkey.

Then, long after Republicans sand-bagged anti-trust attorney whistleblower John Elias, presenting cherry-picked results of the whistleblower complaint he submitted, Mary Gay Scanlon circled back and laid out how he submitted the complaint, how it got forwarded, and laid out that Office of Professional Responsibility didn’t actually deal with the substance of his complaint, but instead said even if true, it wouldn’t affect the prerogatives of the department. Even there, neither she nor anyone laid out the significance of OPR (which reports to the Attorney General) reviewing the complaint, rather than DOJ IG, which has statutory independence. The way Elias got sandbagged should have become a focus of the hearing, but was not.

And no Democrats corrected the false claims Jordan made, particularly about the Flynn case, such as when he ignored how Bill Priestap got FBI to cue Flynn on what he had said to Sergey Kislyak or the date of notes released today that Sidney Powell had every Republican, including Mukasey, claim came one day before they had to have. No one even asked Mukasey why he was agreeing with Jordan about Obama’s pursuit of Mike Flynn when the prosecution happened under Trump (and recent documents have shown both Peter Strzok and Jim Comey working hard to protect Flynn). Mukasey would have made the perfect foil for such questions. He even could have been asked how often DOJ flip flops on its position from week to week, as Barr has in the Flynn case.

Even worse, no one circled back to get Aaron Zelinsky to correct the premise of Jordan’s questions about whether Amy Berman Jackson’s final sentence accorded with the initial sentencing memo or not, much less his cynical reading of one sentence out of context to falsely portray ABJ as agreeing with DOJ’s second memo.

Finally, Democrats did almost no fact-finding (indeed, it took Jordan to lay out the hierarchy of the politicization of the Stone sentencing). For example, while Eric Swalwell got Zelinsky to agree that the Mueller Report showed gaps in the investigations, he did not invite Zelinsky to describe what specific gaps he would be permitted to identify in the Stone investigation, such as that DOJ was not able to recover any of Stone’s texts from shortly after the election until a year later, in 2017. No one circled back to invite Zelinsky to explain that he had been able to describe Paul Manafort’s testimony implicating Trump directly in Stone’s work because descriptions of that testimony were hidden by DOJ and just got declassified — months after Stone’s sentencing. Hakeem Jeffries got Zelinsky to lay out one thing that prosecutors had been forced to leave out in the initial sentencing memo — Randy Credico’s testimony about how freaked out he was about Stone’s threats — but he left it there, without follow-up to learn if there had been anything more (like Stone’s discussions personally with Trump).

The testimony of the witnesses — especially Donald Ayer, who had to testify over Louie Gohmert’s tapping of a pencil to try to drown out his testimony — was scathing. But the Democratic members of the committee left them hanging out there, which is going to further disincent other witnesses from testifying. This hearing was far too important not to do better prep work to ensure the risks the witnesses took on will be worth it going forward.

Sometime today, Nadler said he’s reconsidering his earlier statement that the committee would not impeach Barr. But unless Democrats seriously up their game — both on preparation and on discipline — then any impeachment of Barr will be as ineffectual of the Ukraine impeachment, if not worse.

85 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    What do they do when they’re not on the floor or in meetings – sleep? Dream about what they can do if Biden is elected? Wish for the GOP-T to follow the rules?
    This is why people get mad at elected Ds: they blow chances like this more often than they should. (I’d have told the Sergeant of Arms that anyone without a mask can’t come in, and they should remove those who remove their masks.)

    • BobCon says:

      They’re not preparing because they’re fundraising an insane amount.

      If you watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez you will notice that she tends to be very well prepared for hearings, and she has cited as a major reason her decision to skip the many hours a week that most members spend on fundraising calls.

      This 2013 article describes a typical congressional workday that is half fundraising calls:


      This article from last year cites a figure of 30 hours a week.


      This is not a new problem, and it is ridiculous that the House Democratic leadership has refused to deal with the issue, leaving it to a first termer to create a new model.

      Big donors obviously love the system. But Dems are permanently at a disadvantage to the GOP in trying to woo big donors, and it is politically nuts for the Democrats to perpetuate it. And the effect it has on substance, as demonstrated today, is horrible.

  2. DTR says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your anslysis. There were a few prepared Dem questioners, but generally not an effective questioning of stellar witnesses. Seriously, Mukasey was a lucious ripe peach waiting to be plucked and devoured. He was the best the GOP could manage? The GOP was beating the same old dead horse. However, their garbage could have been exposed for the fetid pile it is with more Dem preparation, incisive questions and focus.

  3. Dave Tuffs says:

    Thank you for the good summary. Why do you think the Democrats are so reluctant to be more aggressive in their approach to what is happening in front of them? Why no subpoena for barr? Why no mask, don’t bother to show up?

    • Mr. Chip says:

      This happened during the Bush years too, sternly worded letters, promises of justice and accountability and somehow always late, one vote short or so ineffectual and incompetent you wouldn’t be able to defend the democrats to anyone else. I have had to wonder if leaders on both teams don’t actually play for the same side. There’s way too many lifers in congress and they are looking more for campaigning fodder than actual governing it seems to me.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • Rayne says:

        No. Fuck no. Get a grip. Take a good look at the background of Democrats across Congress — and then take a look at a group photo of them, compared to a group photo of the GOP congressional caucus.

        Not playing for the same teams. Snap out of it.

        There’s something going on with Dems right now which makes them too scattered, less focused. They needed somebody like Daniel Goldman to handle their inquiry today. I wonder if Nadler’s personal situation, including his wife’s health, has fragmented his ability to lead the Judiciary Committee right now; his chief of staff needs to do something about this, stat.

        I can see why Nadler didn’t want to pursue impeaching Barr though it’s the right thing to do; hearings give assholes like Jordan and fucking right-wing prima donnas like Matt Gaetz free air time to help their campaigns. Jim Jordan needs all the help he can get right now and he got an entire hearing to be a douchebag, all of which can be carved up and used by his campaign.

        And that’s one more factor you ignore when you “wonder if leaders on both teams don’t actually play for the same side.” Clearly not — the Democrats aren’t using Judiciary Committee hearing time to fluff up their polling numbers on the public’s dime.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          On a day when millions are unemployed, and/or dealing with COVID, Jim Jordan, Gohmert, and several GOP seemed to revel in casting insults upon sworn witnesses.
          For hours.

          Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see how the public has much patience left for committee hearings that are rife with sneering rudeness, petulant claims about rules, yada yada.

          Although I have a lot of sympathy for Nadler, and believe him to be a public servant, the Dems simply can’t allow one more committee hearing like this — they don’t need to be as wise as Solomon, but they need to run a much tighter ship.

          FWIW, I caught Val Demings and thought she did a solid job, but needed another 15 minutes to really dig. Unfortunately, the current committee format favors idiots and scammers, whereas someone with years of in-depth knowledge (like Demings) isn’t permitted the time to do a thorough job. (Ditto Swalwell and Raskin.)

          Problem 1: The committee hearing, as a format, appears to be past its pull date.
          Problem 2: Tone — the incivility, rudeness, and abuse of goodwill by Jordan and several others poisoned the conversation. If the format were tighter, Jordan and his ilk would have less opportunity for mischief.

          IMVHO, Nadler was far too lenient: the *instant* Jordan showed up without a mask, the Sergeant at Arms should have been called to remove him. No ifs, no ands, no buts.

          Regrettably, it looks as if Jordan (and other GOP), knowing they could flout rules about masks and hygiene, believed themselves invincible. From flouting simple rules, they then devolved into rudeness and grandstanding.

          The Dems need to up their game: the stakes are too high for this nonsense.

        • timbo says:

          It’s not just you. Nadler is almost certainly out of his depth though. If it weren’t for his staunch wish to keep hearings going, I’d say get him out of there. And, yep, the DP needs to treat testimony from witnesses more seriously when it comes to documenting publicly what the heck is going on in any given investigation. Today wasn’t one of those days IMO.

        • Tim says:

          Nadler…..sheesh! Definitely not Chair material. I think he was outplayed by Jordan and the other noisemakers his last hearing, also. Damn, just use the damn powers of the Judiciary chair. Stop the flow of DOJ$$ now; subpoena Barr today! Bengazzzzi boys used more power to investig nothing burger

        • Jmr55 says:

          I remember this same ineffectual ess for the past 5 decades.
          Is it that Republicans have a zeal and passion for their selfish causes that Dems cannot seem to rouse in themselves BECAUSE their motivations are not personally passionate?

        • Mr. Chip says:

          It has to be something more than they just were not prepared ‘this’ time. I can vouch it’s been like this for at least 2 decades.

    • Geoff says:

      Well, if you ask me (not that you did), it appears that in just about every situation, they’ve played softball – unprepared, lacking real interrogators, and ultimately, going through the motions and waiting for things to play out with a democratic presidential win in November. I think Pelosi laid down the law from day 1 – the only thing we’re every seriously going to pursue, as a method of removal, is the vote. I know, they did impeach Trump, but it was half-assed. Again, going through the motions. Modest opposition. Minor indignation. But not enough action. Dog help us if they are wrong on this calculation. I think what bothers me most is that, if you are going to take this strategy, you ought to spend a lot more energy shoring up the vote, and doing what you can to combat voter suppression. ( I know I know, Rayne…so WTF are YOU doing??? Well, Im giving my money away to the purple races.) Does not appear we are doing a good job on this. Ugh. I so want to be hopeful, but I’m literally more scared than I’ve ever been for the future. Barr is going balls to the wall authoritarian unitary executive. Not nearly enough pushback.

      • gmoke says:

        “I think Pelosi laid down the law from day 1 – the only thing we’re every seriously going to pursue, as a method of removal, is the vote.”

        And yet they won’t even protect the voting process, letting such things as the OH, GA, and KY primary votes go on as purposefully engineered debacles to suppress Black and therefore Democratic votes.

        I hear all these politicians say “Vote!” but I hear very little about making sure that vote is fair, open, honest, and auditable afterwards. Yes, vote but make sure your vote is counted honestly and auditably. That’s why I gave some of my COVID19 Federal $$$ to the Brennan Center and other election integrity organizations.

        And I will keep making this point until our voting system is repaired.

        • P J Evans says:

          I read one piece (sorry, can’t find it now) that says this problem goes back before 2008. That means they haven’t had to do anything in more than 10 years, and they’ve forgotten whatever they may have known.
          I’m not happy with most of them, now. If they don’t want to do anything before the election, they aren’t trying to win the election.

        • Geoff says:

          They don’t seem to want to act within the reality of their situation. Sure, the Senate is doomed with McConnell in place. No meaningful legislation is going to pass. I’m not really even sure what the point is in the last couple of years of wasting time producing such legislation when they know it has zero chance. Now, I suppose you could say that those bills will be useful when you take over the Senate and win the Presidency, but if you expend your energy doing the work you could do in the future, rather than use your energy to stand up against the criminality and corruption that is ruining government now, well, you kind of risk not even getting the chance to enact that legislation in the next term. Letting all this stuff slide by with some perfunctory pushback just makes it seem less criminal. It makes it seem like two siderism, and that we are losing because the other sides argument is right, rather than that it is merely just using power to assert its will. All energy at this point needs to be focused on securing the election and having a strategy for dealing forcefully with the possible eventuality that the election is close, and that we end up with Trump and his minions, esp Barr, using the same types of powers to twist things to their favor. I’m encouraged by the polls in battleground states, but I’m not about to get complacent and trust them that Biden is a shoo in.

        • madwand says:

          Good post it puts wasted effort in perspective. One argument you could make for all that wasted effort is for countering all the pocket vetoes that McConnell makes when he fails to bring a house bill to a vote. Also and absolutely we have to be preparing for a close election and Trump using some pretext as a reason to stay in office. We don’t need a redo of gore vs bush.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Curiouser and curiouser. This committee has staff. Most or all of its members have staff. Other committees and representatives have staff, who might have been available on loan-out to mount a full-court press. Knowledgeable outside counsel and other advisers could have been available had they been given enough notice, many of whom would have supported the committee’s work pro bono. Is this the sort of performance Ms. Pelosi is leery about or is it what she wants? Because at this rate, Nadler is gonna find himself Engeled come the next primary season.

    • P J Evans says:

      And my back-bench congresscritter is one of the two in line to replace Engel as chair on that committee. (He’s pro-Israel to the point where he’s bought into IDF lies.)

    • FL Resister says:

      Many of the commenters here appear to be attorneys with knowledge of the judicial system, discerning minds, and the ability to create good arguments and follow up questions.

      To the lay person it appeared the day went disastrously for Barr and Trump. While perhaps sloppy to you, it appeared that Democratic House Members did a decent job defining the problems and highlighting Barr’s misdeeds.
      What we also saw clearly that Jim Jordan used the same strategy as in the House Impeachment proceedings to bring up multiple strands of baffling and nonsensical Fox News and GOP conspiracy theories to somehow discredit the entire case against Barr.

      To generic Americans who are seeing a diseased country, a withering economy, and protests in the streets, Jordan’s attacks seemed out of synch and fell flat. And his outrage appeared manufactured and in bad faith. Take heart.

      • rumleyfips says:

        I judged the hearing over after opening statements thinking no further information was going to show.

        Jordan, Gomer and foghorn leghorn were just background noise I blocked out. I thought the Republicans were in over their heads and completely useless.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Define ‘useless’.

          To someone who expects government to function, in a civil and reasoned manner, Jordan, et al, were ‘useless’.

          But if you wished America – its economy, it’s public besieged by pandemic, its businesses, its municipal governments – ill, then you’d probably think that Jim Jordan and his posse were extremely useful. They daily damage the integrity of government, and in doing so they abuse and diminish public trust. That’s hardly ‘useless’: some might say it’s a coup of sorts.

        • madwand says:

          I don’t know about the others but Jordan is a wrestler, wrestlers take advantage of any weakness their opponent shows. It’s all what’s in the fight. So he didn’t wear a mask and Nadler let it go. From then on Jordan knew he could do what he wanted and he did. It’s sports psychology 101 which we teach our kids in order to get them to draws life’s parallel lessons. Right now Dems are in art class, while Republicans are on the mat.

        • FL Resister says:

          That’s what pisses me off the most.
          Letting Jordan flout the mask rules and Gomert pound on his desk to drown out the speakers was absolutely irresponsible and unnecessary. Nadler needs to go home after a distinguished career.
          We have to put these law and rule breakers in their place and be ballbreakers, as Jordan would put it.
          This isn’t badminton.

    • BobCon says:

      A big part of the problem is the standing rules structuring hearings have been hopelessly gamed by the GOP..

      The five minutes of questioning alternating between parties only works when there is a subject that has some kind of bipartisan appeal — investigating a puppy murder ring or something else where cooperation occurs.

      But focused disruption is easy to manage in a format where a serious line of questioning is hard to accomplish in a limited time.

      The rules allow for a bit more time for the chair and potentially a counsel, but not a lot.

      Pelosi knew this was coming in November 2018, but when House rules for the new session were out up for a vote in January 2019, she had no proposed changes. Considering the Senate had gutted their rules on judicial appointments, the case could have been made that new House hearing rules were warranted, especially if they meant opportunities for more substantive hearings. Pelosi passed up the chance.

      Also, Pelosi has not staffed up to a level needed to meet the challenges of Trump’s corruption. Junior members serving on the House Judiciary Committee do not have a dedicated staff position for committee work, and that staffer typically has to split duties among multiple subject areas. House staff salaries are typically low for DC, and institutional knowledge tends to be low. Pelosi could have made moves to fix this. She didn’t.

      I could go on and on about the management fiasco. It’s one thing to intentionally decide to limit House action as a part of a strategy of picking and choosing battles with a high payoff. But Pelosi has intentionally chosen to live with the gutted institution handed to her by the GOP last year. It makes no strategic sense.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Reform would get in the way of her agenda. I would say it’s a bipartisan thing, but it only works one way. The Dems seem to spend their time tamping down the “undoable” demands from the left. The GOP works endlessly to game the system, either in their favor or to hamstring the other side. When only one side takes the field, it’s hard for the other one to win, unless it has a peculiar definition of winning.

        • BobCon says:

          The point I want to make is that this is not simply about tamping down reform. It is about a strategic failure.

          Imagine two scenarios with an approaching hurricane. Both involve a decision to ignore the evacuation warnings of experts and shelter in place.

          In the first scenario, the homeowner decides to hedge their bets, move their car to high ground, buy a canoe and stock it with emergency supplies.

          The second involves hanging out on the deck with a Weber grill ccoking brats and a cooler full of White Claw as the storm looms, fully expecting roads will be open tomorrow, the car unflooded, and the power will be on.

          That’s Pelosi in the second scenario. Now, maybe there is a legitimate reason to shelter in place — maybe the homeowner is a surgeon who expects to be in the ER when the storm is over. But there is no excuse for not making preparations for a Plan B.

          Eisenhower had an evacuation plan for D Day. He did not expect failure, but he was not going to burn his ships on the shore.

        • Rayne says:

          We don’t actually know what Pelosi is doing in the second scenario. That’s the real challenge. You assume the cooler is filled with White Claw. It may be she’s relying on that Yeti’s buoyancy and the bug-out bag inside it when the time comes but we can’t see inside the Yeti.

          The bigger problem is **us** when this is supposed to be a government of, by, and for the people. If you’re complaining here in comments more than you’re communicating with your members of Congress and your state and local government, you’re still counting on that opaque Yeti cooler to see you through, too.

        • BobCon says:

          Her complete failure to have an operating plan in the event of a coronavirus shutdown is as damning an indication of her planning as there could possibly be.

          She had the warnings in January, if not earlier, that this was not a drill.

          She had the time to put together a contingency plan and push for its approval in March before recess made a vote impossible.

          She failed.

          I share Bmaz’s frustration about her inaction on impeachment, but her failure to prepare for the virus shutdown is even worse in my opinion by an order of magnitude.

          It is time to drop the belief that there is some kind of secret strategic planning she does behind the scenes. There is no vision.

          And please, drop the insinuation that critics aren’t acting elsewhere.

        • Rayne says:

          Dude, I’m here at the keyboard and on Twitter every day. I can see who’s doing effective criticism. It’s been the topic of many posts at this site for over a decade.

          The most effective critique of governance has been out in the streets.

          Also not certain why you think Pelosi was going to be able to lead a pandemic response ahead of the White House. Has it occurred to you at all she’s also getting ALL the intelligence about threats to the House? Look at what happened in Michigan’s state legislature on April 30 — do you think she might have wanted to avoid a scene like that which could undermine her authority the way it was chewing at the legitimacy of “that woman in Michigan”?

          We’re just going to have to agree to disagree. I can see the older and more moderate left this country making the same mistakes made during Obama’s administration: attacking our own instead of using the Overton Window as the right-wing has done aggressively and successively to effect change.

        • Rayne says:

          Yes, yes, we both know we don’t agree about Pelosi. Could she do better? Maybe. Could we do worse? Hello, Steny fucking Hoyer.

          Funny how Hoyer as Numero Dos always gets off lightly.

        • BobCon says:

          I have to say I’m disappointed that you’re criticizing me for saying something I didn’t say.

          My critique of Pelosi is not that I thought “Pelosi was going to be able to lead a pandemic response ahead of the White House.”

          I had a specific critique directly related to her failure to exercise the authority of her office. It relates to House rules and the procedures for altering them.

          Look, I realize you’re used to moderating a lot of junk. But I know a fair amount of this stuff about House rules and procedures. I can tell you what’s happening in a move to strike the last word when the House is operating as. committee of the whole House and what the challenges and obstacles are of trying to pass a measure under the suspension of the rules.

          Pelosi wasn’t operating under a fear of another Lansing. Her delayed move to alter House rules came during the height of the armed white supremacist move on state capitols. If she had moved in March she couldn’t have been caught up in their protests because they didn’t exist yet. She would have stolen a march. It has to do with her approach to the institution and its rules.

          Your putting words into my mouth is simply unfair. And I will note that disagreement based in specific, fact based readings of events is not harmful to the liberal cause. What hurts more than anything else is disassociation from good faith, factual argument.

    • FL Resister says:

      Based upon Nadler’s abysmal performance during the impeachment hearings and his limp performance during the Barr hearing, I am convinced he deserves to be Engled.
      Anyone willing to step up?

      • bmaz says:

        Nadler had two primary challengers, both fairly decent, but he beat them handily in Tuesday’s primary. One of them, Lindsey Boylan, looked particularly good. Will note that 70% of the vote was mail in, and due to NY’s idiotic law, will not be counted until next Wednesday. Still unlikely Nadler gets overtaken.

  5. Michael says:

    “the date of notes released today that Sidney Powell had every Republican, including Mukasey, claim came one day before they had to have”
    What’s the significance of Powell getting the date wrong? Other than the fact that Sherwin seems to have no clue when the notes were taken:
    “While the page itself is undated; we believe that the notes were taken in early January 2017, possibly between January 3 and January 5,” Sherwin wrote Tuesday.”

    • emptywheel says:

      The notes are from Jan 5–they match Susan Rice’s notes from the same meeting, and we know that was on Jan 5.

      The reason they’re claiming it might have been earlier is to create the fiction that Biden suggested Logan Act, before anyone else.

  6. Common Sense says:

    Sad, just sad. I wanted Jordan and Gohmert hauled out by security. Nadler must have been a pathetic child to have such little self-regard. The Dems can’t allow him to host another key session this ineptly.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Depends on what committee and House rules are. But if they don’t allow him to maintain order and hear witnesses that are hard to get in front of a congressional committee, then the rules are inadequate.

      • harold hecuba says:

        This was just ugh all the way around. I didn’t catch all of it, but what I saw…ugh.

        And Jerry Nadler “as the Beaver” needs to up his game. Does Trump literally need to strangle a baby on live TV before the Dems start getting pissed and act like they know what they’re doing?

  7. R A Anderson says:

    Why don’t the dems have someone in there that knows what to do? Jordan is just a boisterous liar. No substance, but it plays well enough to enthrall the uneducated white men.

  8. Nehoa says:

    Not everyone is good at running a tight meeting/hearing in a tense situation. If you are like that, and running the hearing, get some help. Get an enforcer type (staff or member) next to you. Use the Sgt at Arms. Kick miscreants out the room. There are a variety of methods to control things where you do not have to be personally confrontative if that’s not your nature.

  9. jdmckay says:

    (…) the date of notes released today that Sidney Powell had every Republican, including Mukasey, claim came one day before they had to have.

    I’m not sure what this is referring to, can someone explain ???

    (I see asked/answered above)

    But the Democratic members of the committee left them hanging out there, which is going to further disincent other witnesses from testifying. This hearing was far too important not to do better prep work to ensure the risks the witnesses took on will be worth it going forward.

    “far too important not to do better prep work”… that’s the bottom line AFAIC. And… seems their pattern oft repeated for 20+ years now. Our problems & challenges have exoabded and become much more critical, continuing in this manner will be devastating.

    I see other posters have expressed their frustration so I won’t ramble on. But to leave Jordon/Mukaskey and several other R’s summarizing as Barr/DOJ “fixing what previos administration broke” and “restoring integrity” to the institution completely unchallenged… as you say this stuff is “far too important” to leave unchallenged.

  10. Alan says:

    Nadler is my Congressman. His time is up. Not only does he not control the hearings, he cannot control his own committee. The Democratic members should be prohibited by Nadler from speechifying – if they cannot ask questions and follow ups, then they should yield there time to another member who is prepared. In addition, some members should be prepared to rehabilitate witnesses and give them the opportunity to correct representations like that of Gym. This is amateur hour. They need to put Katie Porter on this Committee and have her pre-qualify all questions. So, Barr would not fear a hearing with Nadler running this and the inept members. Democratic Members: if you do not have questions, cannot listen to answers, and only want to speechify, then be quiet – also, your constituents are watching. If you keep fumbling, you will be replaced and should be. I am wondering who will run against Nadler – he could easily be beaten. If he does not up his game and run his committee, he deserves to be beaten.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Alan.” Very sorry this wasn’t pointed out the first time you commented last month. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

          Well she can’t be any worse at it than Nadler, and maybe if Nadler was out someone would take his place that would manage things more effectively.

        • timbo says:

          Be very careful when you use hyperbole willy-nilly. It is easy for the next person in Nadler’s seat to be worse.

        • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

          Is that how it works? If you unseat a committee chair you get their chair? I assumed leadership would put someone else in.

        • BobCon says:

          For standing committees it comes down to a vote in the Democratic caucus. One notable example was Henry Waxman defeating John Dingell for the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee a dozen years ago.

          As a practical matter, a challenge will only succeed if leadership is neutral or favors a replacement, and the challenger most likely needs to be an established figure — Waxman was essentially the number 2 Democrat on the committee already.

          For select committees, leadership has more flexibility in picking a chair, and initial assignments to committees are mostly a leadership call, although there is a lot of input from traditional seats of power, such as committee and caucus chairs.

    • Rayne says:

      Why don’t you know more about the primary in your own district if you’re so unhappy with Nadler? You’re lecturing about his ability to lead and prepare his team but you’re not prepared to write knowledgeably about your own district?

      Why aren’t you running for that seat if you’re really that dissatisfied?

      • milestogo says:

        That’s the right response. I would love to run in my district but my rep is actually pretty decent

        • Rayne says:

          I’d run but everyone here knows I’m trouble. LOL

          But seriously, too many voters want someone who’ll talk blue skies and blow smoke up their ass. I’m not qualified on that front. The successful candidate has the ability to be a bomb thrower and a blue skies talker who can wheedle enough money out of supporters to run a campaign on a shoe string. So not moi.

  11. x174 says:

    in terms of a robust legal debate, it had much to be desired. but it seemed quite clear that the rethugs were presenting themselves as plainly reprehensible. gym jordan’s ignoring a requirement to abide by reasonable health precautions made his every breathe appear despicably unhealthful. i was thankful and impressed with the hearings overall and thought that nadler’s upping the game after the rethugs contemptible behavior seemed well considered in light of the animal house behavior of trump’s goon squad, who individually and collectively reeked of bad faith and indiscipline. although they damaged the import of the hearing, it seemed that nadler’s letting them act so profusely incontinent exposed them as thoughtless goons and miscreants–exhibits a-f. how many voters do you really think were swayed by their atrocious antics? anyone who falls for their gross and highly inappropriate conduct is already lost.

  12. Max404 says:

    Have I missed something? I remember Sam Dash doing most of the questioning in the Ervin committee Watergate hearings, and he got ’em. Where did this absurd grandstanding 5 minute-each format come from?

    • BobCon says:

      The format comes from standing House rules.

      Rules can be changed — that’s how the House eventually allowed proxy voting last month instead of requiring in person voting. But it takes a concerted effort by leadership to assemble a new package of rules and push it through. Pelosi has been extremely reluctant to do anything — she had nothing prepared when the House left town due to the coronavirus despite having considerable warning ahead of time.

      Also, a select committee with a better format would have been an option, but the House leadership refused to push for one.

  13. pablo says:

    All hearings should be:
    Representative X: Hello to all the citizens of the great state I represent, and I yield the remainder of my time to Daniel Goldman.

  14. Badger Robert says:

    Dem House leadership may be changing its mind on impeaching the Attorney General. It may be a fight they can win, without removal.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Godot will be waiting at that bus stop, and Bill Barr will show up for a hearing run by House Democrats.

  15. Spencer Dawkins says:

    Thanks for this. I was spoiled by the Trump impeachment hearings, where they had someone in charge of asking questions, and everyone didn’t demand their five minutes of fame, but my sense of calm cratered when Gym Jordan was the one who asked “who was your supervisor?” before any of the Dems did.

    Dems really need a script that they stick to. If Nadler can’t come up with a script, this is going to make Barr look BETTER after impeachment hearings, and that’s just wrong.

    Yes, Republicans suck, especially Jordan and Gohmert, but you already knew THAT …

  16. The Old Redneck says:

    This to me is a real format problem. I think it would be better to have each side ask all their questions, rather than five minutes alternating. Very few lines of questioning worth much can be completed in five minutes, and doing that would allow one questioner to build on the previous one.
    There’s a reason why it’s done this way in courtroom trials.

    • Spencer Dawkins says:


      The problem is that the courtroom procedures assume (checks Google) an adversarial relationship, and the House rules are optimized for people inquiring in good faith, not for sitting representatives who think pointing out that there are no rules about when someone can make noise is part of reasoned discourse.

      I’ve been a drummer since 1969 and a hand drummer since the mid 1980s, but even *I* know when it’s time to stop drumming …

      Gohmert’s not my congresscritter, but I do live in Texas, and I wish he wasn’t ANYONE’s congresscritter.

    • P J Evans says:

      The time limit is so they can’t go off on long tangents or make speeches, like so many want to do.

  17. DTK says:

    “What do they do when they’re not on the floor or in meetings – sleep? Dream about what they can do if Biden is elected? Wish for the GOP-T to follow the rules?”
    Blowing chances? Missing opportunities? How many decades does it take to realize that Congress works exactly as it is intended. Never get to the bottom of anything.

    • P J Evans says:

      That is NOT how Congress is intended to work. We have the House, which is trying to do its job (or some of it is), and the Senate, where most of it isn’t even trying, at the wishes of someone who should be voted out.

    • Marinela says:

      Republicans are not interested in governing. They want power to use to consolidate more power and advance unpopular agenda. This is why they need Trump with a populist propaganda, to cover up for the absence of substantive agenda.

      Democrats are interested in governing, but they also need to learn to do more than one thing at the time, like curbing corruption. Cannot punt it to next election, addressing corruption is urgent matter.

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