Congressional political feud grows more intense
March 14th, 2014
08:45 PM ET
5 months ago

Congressional political feud grows more intense

Washington (CNN) – One of the hottest political feuds in Washington ratcheted up another tense notch Friday as House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, accused Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of undermining an investigation into why the IRS targeted conservative groups.

Cummings fired back, calling Issa’s behavior “abusive.”

First, Issa: “You have made yourself an obstacle to effective congressional oversight,” he wrote Cummings in a sharply worded four-page letter Friday.

It went on to accuse Cummings, the top Democrat on his committee, of operating, “in effect (as) a defense counsel for (former IRS employee) Lois Lerner.”

Quickly responding, Cummings’ office called the letter “offensive” and Issa’s actions in a hearing last week “abusive.”

The barbed words are the latest in a back-and-forth-and-back-again fight between the two men over whether Issa can charge Lerner with contempt of Congress.

For over a year, Lerner has refused to testify publicly about her role in IRS targeting of tea party groups, citing her Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination.

The issue exploded at a hearing last week when Lerner again refused to testify.

After Cummings tried to make a statement and ask a question, Issa had the Democrat’s microphone turned off. That sparked a waterfall of outrage from Democrats and an apology from Issa.

Cummings next wrote two letters to House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, arguing that Issa’s behavior blocked the possibility of contempt charges.

The Democrat cited two former congressional attorneys who believe that Issa neglected to clearly overrule Lerner’s Fifth Amendment assertion or tell her that she must answer the committee’s questions. Therefore, they argue, Issa cannot file for contempt.

Friday, Issa fired back in his letter to the Maryland Democrat.

“You and your lawyers and consultants are wrong on the facts and the law,” Issa wrote.

Issa cited the committee’s resolution rejecting Lerner’s Fifth Amendment privilege and argued that Supreme Court case law supports his position. Issa then said Cummings was blocking the investigation.

In a sign of the deteriorating discourse, the Oversight chairman needled his Democratic counterpart about how he obtained his position.

“Even though the White House helped orchestrate your ascension to ranking member,” Issa wrote to Cummings, “I … continue to encourage … you to subordinate your political loyalties to the institutional interests of the Committee and the House.”

In response, an aide working for Cummings on the Democratic side of the Oversight panel shot back:

“Frankly, it’s offensive that the chairman would accuse Rep. Cummings of undermining the integrity of the committee after the entire country just witnessed his abusive actions at last week’s hearing,” the Democratic House Oversight aide told CNN.

Meantime, Issa is preparing the landscape for possible contempt charges. Tuesday he filed a 141-page report laying out a case against Lerner.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • Elijah Cummings
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. don in albuquerque

    So far Issa has pretty much proven that he is holding court for his party, but does not have a clue how to conduct an investigation or hearing. Another GOTP total failure. Has he successfully accomplished anything other then spend millions is tax dollars for no apparent reason? If anyone ever needed to be recalled it is Derwood.

    March 14, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Darrell Issa is a career criminal. Google his name and draw your own conclusions. He has been very lucky in life and business; his money has purchased power and leniency. I think it's about time this man has been brought down a peg and made to realize that he cannot run rough shod over people simply because of his wealth and station in life.

    March 14, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  3. greg lehrer

    where is the report on the emails

    March 14, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. greg lehrer

    you know if they were slow walking the NAACP Jesse Jackson would be talking a different story! what a joke

    March 14, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  5. wendel

    Issa is a crook and a jerk . vote this clown out

    March 14, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  6. Former republican, now an independent

    I will never understand how a known car thief like Issa can get elected, let alone serve as chairman of the House oversight committee. Oh, I forgot. This is the most corrupt House of Representatives in the history of the U.S., dominated by militant extremists of the Republican Party.

    March 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  7. Iamnotfooled

    It seems everyone is wrong except ISSA. In ISSA's mind. Throw him out. Bogus investigations, Waste of time and money.

    March 15, 2014 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  8. Michael MN

    So after millions spent and emdless amounts of wasted time has Issa found anything that would warrent charges ?

    To me it looks like Issa is fishing in a empty pool knowing there is nothing there but hoping to have something fall in

    March 15, 2014 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  9. Marie MD

    The car thief needs to step down and go enjoy the millions he has made on his car alarms because he was a car thief and learned from that Nd he is also an alleged arsonist and made money on the building insurance.

    March 15, 2014 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  10. Gurgyl

    Very, very bad for the nation. Drive all these republican animals away. Then only this nation goes good, does good. God bless!!!!!

    March 15, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  11. me too

    I think its a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. No matter what she says its gonna be twisted. I like the way it is ignored trigger words were targeted from both sides. Not just Tea Party.

    March 15, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  12. Tampa Tim

    Issa must not be aware that he was on television doing his child like bully tactics. If Boehner wasn't such a worthless wimp, he would tell Darrel that he has violated the committee rules and has spent enough on his witch hunts to nowhere. Issa needs to step down.

    March 15, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Tampa Tim

    Throughout history, we have seen petty little despots like Issa. He thinks he is above the law. Must be from his days as a car their.

    March 15, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  14. Tampa Tim

    Oops, ... Thief ..

    March 15, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  15. don in albuquerque

    I think most Americans would be held in contempt of Issa's playground.

    March 15, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Tampa Tim

    Darrell shut off the mikes and refused to allow others to ask questions, but, according to Issa, his own actions are not blocking the investigation? Pretty dumb move Darrell.

    March 15, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. 2_indy1600

    Laughed out loud at the screams from Dimworld about "EXPENSE!" How much did health care dot gov waste again? How many blue cities are going bankrupt? Get out of the way.

    March 15, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. Peace

    Wasn't Issa who apologised last week? Was his apology a genuine one or he was trying to fool people around? Why is he continuing with political feud if at all he knows fights never yield any productive results.

    March 15, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. rs

    2_indy1600
    Laughed out loud at the screams from Dimworld about "EXPENSE!" How much did health care dot gov waste again? How many blue cities are going bankrupt? Get out of the way.
    ----
    Yes, list this Blue states- there aren't any. Don't forget Bucko, your party flushed away $24 billion in you shutdown coup d'etat last year, Issa's wasted $60 million in these little clown shows is chicken feed by comparison- but shows your party is the worst waste of money on the planet.

    March 15, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. The REAL TRUTH...

    Coming from a guy batting ZERO and 13 (0-13) in investigations.. one really has to question who's the effective blocker Darryl.

    March 15, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. J anthony

    Thanks for pointing out that both parties waste millions every day, what would we do without you

    March 15, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. jk fort myers fl.

    gop doesn't care about healthcare for anybody but themselves and have been hiding behind Obama care for five years while doing nothing.you can vote for them im not.

    March 15, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. jk fort myers fl.

    doppy cnn moderators suck

    March 15, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Mr. Balls

    The Republican House is a a contemptible place.

    March 15, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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