As reported earlier this week, Barbara Comstock voted with her GOP colleagues to kill Rep. Bill Pascrell’s (D-N.J.) Intent to Offer a Resolution to request President Trump’s tax returns. After tabling it, they explained that the Resolution did “not constitute a question of the privileges of the House.” When Pascrell appealed this ruling by the Chair, Republicans moved for and voted to table it.
The day after her vote, I reached out to Ms. Comstock’s office for clarification, though I was only able to speak to junior staff. This was also the same day that the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Rep. Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) Resolution 111, which called for the DOJ to release any and all documents in its possession related to Trump’s and his associates’ possible ties to Russia, and his international financial entanglements, including the possible violations of the Emoluments Clause, based on foreign delegations staying at Trump Hotels. The message from the majority members of the Committee was, “You lost; get over it.”
Though I wasn’t able to speak to any of her aides with subject matter responsibilities, her staff emailed this response, today:
The question is, what differences does she refer to, when she writes, “We should endeavor to put aside our differences and work together whenever possible for the greater good of this nation”? Is the difference that a significant number of people continue to call for Trump to release his taxes? Does it make a “difference” that, according to a recent poll, nearly 74% of people want Trump to release his taxes?
Take the 74% of those surveyed by ABC News/Washington Post poll, and add to it the 193-member House Democratic Caucus, and add in the two Republicans who joined their colleagues across the aisle in signing the letter sent by Rep. Pascrell today, and you’ve got a whole lot of people with “differences.”
As The Hill reports, The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees, along with the Joint Committee on Taxation, have the power to request individual tax returns from the Treasury Department, though the Chairmen of these Committees have indicated they would not support such efforts.
As reporters at major news agencies, such as the Washington Post, continue to un-spin “The web of relationships between Team Trump and Russia,” public opinion is likely to swing even further into the Release His Taxes camp, keeping in mind that the 74% polling was done back in January, weeks before the latest revelations regarding beleaguered Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Yesterday’s announcement that Sessions would recuse himself from any existing or future investigations into campaign-related interference came after news reports broke the story that he may have lied about his contact with Russian officials during the campaign, during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Reporting on the most recent developments regarding the increased calls for an independent investigation, Today’s New York Times surmised that:
“Despite new questions about contacts between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a top Russian diplomat, House and Senate Republicans remain unwilling to budge from their opposition to a special bipartisan inquiry into the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and into any connections to President Trump or those close to him. Changing their mind would probably require significant revelations of the sort that would make their current stance politically untenable.”
It makes one wonder, just how bad does it have to get before Republicans relent and investigate?
What it makes me wonder, is, what has happened to Barbara Comstock, since she won her bid for reelection? During the campaign, she unleashed a blistering string of insults at candidate Trump, including describing him to the Loudon Times, as “[a] casino owner who bankrupted casinos,” she said of Trump. “Daddy gave him his money. He played with it … He doesn’t know anything about the economy … I don’t think he believes in anything aside from himself.”
Was she simply pretending to dislike Trump, because she knew it would likely be received well in her purple district? Or did she change her mind based on Trump’s actions? That theory seems implausible, given she has gone on record multiple times to disagree with his actions, such as the Muslim ban and the federal hiring freeze. Could it simply be that he is saying the right things, suddenly? She issued a glowing statement on Trump after his address to Congress the other night, writing, “I appreciated the optimistic, unifying vision that the President outlined tonight… As we work toward these reforms, there is no doubt disagreements will occur but we must come together to solve these disagreements so our country can move forward.”
Yes, Barbara, we must come together to solve these disagreements. And as your staff wrote to me earlier, we must put aside our differences in order for the country to move forward. That may mean putting aside party ideology and taking a long, hard look at who’s been installed in the highest office of the land. As others have said, it remains to be seen how long the GOP-led Congress can maintain this Ostrich-Head-in-the-Sand approach to governing. This political obstinacy is not a viable long-term strategy.
In the meantime, though Trump has tweeted that the mainstream press is the “enemy of the people,” it appears that we constituents must rely on those reporters to investigate on our behalf.