RAPID RESPONSE: Oversight Dems Condemn "Unwarranted And Abusive" Subpoena To White House Attorney On Lerner Emails
Washington, D.C. (June 24, 2014)—At today’s hearing before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Democrats strongly condemned Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s rushed decision last night to issue a unilateral subpoena to compel the testimony of Jennifer O’Connor, a former IRS employee who started work at the White House less than a month ago.
Rep. Steven Horsford objected: “There was no vote on this subpoena. The Committee did not debate it. Members did not have the opportunity to weigh the gravity of what the Chairman did in this Committee’s name. Now we will find out how misguided that subpoena really was.”
Horsford then proceeded to question O’Connor, who Issa called a “hostile witness.” O’Connor testified that:
· she did not work at the IRS when employees in Cincinnati used inappropriate search terms;
· she joined the IRS after the Inspector General issued his report;
· she left the IRS in 2013, long before the IRS made these recent discoveries this Spring about Ms. Lerner’s email;
· she joined the White House less than a month ago; and
· according to a letter the Committee received from the White House, she started her new position at the White House after the Treasury Department informed the White House in April about potential problems with Ms. Lerner’s email.
“I quite honestly do not understand how Chairman Issa was able to rush to issue this subpoena to force you, Ms. O’Connor, to be here today with 24-hour notice,” said Horsford. “Your connection to this topic of today’s hearing is at best a stretch, and all of these questions could have been answered by simply picking up the telephone and asking.”
Horsford also cited commitments made by Issa at the Committee’s first organizational meeting in 2011 to use subpoena authority responsibly:
“I am going to take your thoughts on why you object seriously. To be honest, I will ask other members of my Committee, am I doing the right thing? ... I will also undoubtedly talk to other members on your side and say, am I nuts? Am I wrong? Is this somehow a subpoena that is outside the mainstream? So I don’t intend on simply writing subpoenas endlessly.”
Since then, Issa has issued more than fifty unilateral subpoenas as Chairman. “He has never once allowed a debate, and he has never allowed a vote,” said Horsford. “Not only do these actions contradict the promises that he made four years ago as the Chairman, but they result in unwarranted and abusive subpoenas like the one he issued last night.”
Horsford also cited an interview on August 19, 2010, in which Issa explained how he planned to issue subpoenas if he became Chairman: “Cabinet officers, assistant secretaries, directors—I will be able to take on everybody that the President hires and relies upon.”
Horsford concluded: “Well, he has certainly made good on that promise.”
See the video here.