Scandals in Washington

Benghazi

As part of the House’s continuing efforts to determine what took place before, during, and after the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently held a hearing featuring three whistleblowers, including Gregory Hicks, the second-highest diplomat in Libya at the time of the attack.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the panel’s Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, traveled to Libya as part of the congressional investigation into what took place. He said that no Democrat chose to go with him, but that the State Department sent a “minder” to keep tabs on him. Mr. Hicks testified that he was “instructed” by State Department attorneys not to cooperate with Rep. Chaffetz, and to keep Rep. Chaffetz from personally interviewing people on the ground in Libya.

Rep. Chaffetz ultimately was able to interview people, but his “minder” from the State Department – who lacked the proper security clearance to participate in the classified briefing – was excluded. Because of that, Mr. Hicks testified that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, called him, and in a tone that was unhappy, demanded a report on Rep. Chaffetz’s visit.

That the State Department appears to have been working to obstruct a Member of Congress from discovering the truth is appalling.

Another of the witnesses was Eric Nordstrom, the former regional security officer in Libya. Mr. Nordstrom said that he wanted to get the truth out. “What happened prior to, during, and after the attack matters,” he said in his opening remarks. “It matters to me personally and to my colleagues at State. It matters to the American people and it matters to the friends and families” of those killed in the attack.

He’s right – the truth matters.

Unfortunately getting to the truth has been difficult. The Obama administration originally began blaming a video for inciting the attack. “The YouTube video was a non event in Libya,” Mr. Hicks testified. He later said “The video was not an instigator of anything that was going on in Libya. We saw no demonstrations related to the video anywhere in Libya. The only event that transpired was the attack on our consulate on the night of Sept. 11.”

ABC News obtained documents making clear that State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland requested that references to al-Qaeda and prior warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi be removed from a memo on the attacks. Ms. Nuland emailed that the description “could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat up on the State Department for not paying attention to warnings.” That memo, stripped of some very important information, is what the Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, used in her Sunday Show appearances in which she only blamed the YouTube video.

Mr. Hicks testified that Ambassador Rice didn’t consult officials in Libya to verify the information in the memo before those appearances, and I haven’t seen anything indicating that she actually knew the full story. If I were Ambassador Rice, I would be asking questions to find out if I had been set up by others in the Administration.

Everyone makes mistakes. But as I tell my children, if you make a mistake, don’t lie about it. It only makes it worse. Very serious mistakes were made, which led to the murder of four Americans. But even worse, there was a cover-up about it as well – a concerted effort to conceal the truth. Some have argued these untruths were intended to protect the President during an election, and then-Secretary Clinton for future elections.

Motivation doesn’t matter. We cannot tolerate being knowingly and willfully misled by the Administration. I don’t care if it is a Republican, Democrat, or Independent President. The truth doesn’t have a political party. The American people deserve to know the truth. We must continue seeking that truth, and determine who authorized or acquiesced in the cover-up.

The IRS

Another developing scandal has to do with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admitting to having deliberately targeted nonprofit conservative groups such as “Tea Party” and “Patriot” groups for increased scrutiny. The pro-Israel group known as Z Street reported that they also received similar negative treatment.

I am very disturbed by the purposeful targeting of any group by the IRS, whether it is conservative or liberal. I support the Committee on Ways and Means’ decision to hold a hearing on this matter. I will monitor the situation closely as it continues to unfold, and work to ensure that the IRS is held accountable for this shocking violation of the trust of the American people.

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LIGHTER SIDE

 

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ALERT ALERT

YUP: President Trump Signs Great And Beautiful Trump Border Wall During Tour In San Diego

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President Donald Trump visited the San Diego border on Wednesday to show off a newly constructed portion of the wall after a fundraising trip in California.

“It’s an amazing project,” Trump said, pointing to the 30-foot high barrier constructed with steel and concrete, noting that it also went six feet underground.

“If you think you’re going to cut it with a blow torch, that doesn’t work, because you hit the concrete, and then if you think you’re going to go through the concrete, that doesn’t work because we have very powerful rebar inside,” Trump said.

The president traveled via motorcade after a fundraiser to Otay Mesa, a community outside San Diego on the United States -Mexico border to review the latest constructed physical barrier.

He pointed out the new wall structure to the press, which was 24 miles of primary and secondary wall at the border.

“We have it covered underground, we have it covered overground,” Trump said.

The president was joined by acting Department of Homeland security Kevin McAllen and several other border security officials.

He said that over 44,000 bollard panels had been set up for the wall, which was then filled with concrete and rebar.

Trump admitted that he envisioned a solid concrete wall when he campaigned for president, but he was told by border officials that they preferred a wall constructed by concrete-filled bollards so they could see through it.

“It’s hardened concrete, very powerful concrete,” Trump said, pointing to the structure.

He added that the steel wall was designed to retain heat, making it harder to climb, plus having an anti-climbing system at the top.

“You can fry an egg on that wall,” he said. The president also acknowledged to reporters that he wanted the wall to be painted black and have spikes but said it was cheaper to let it remain naturally rust-colored.

“We can paint it later,” he said.

The president discussed his growing understanding of border barriers, noting that the Southern border would not need much more than 500 miles of wall to secure the border. He cited the existence of natural mountain and river barriers that prevented criminals from crossing. He did not rule out building additional barriers in the future but said it would depend on whether it was needed.

One border patrol agent spoke about the importance of the border wall to all of the agents, thanking the president for pushing forward on construction.

Trump said he met with Border Patrol prior to constructing the wall, picking the most effective structures to protect the border.

One border security official scoffed at the idea that the wall was a “vanity” project for the president.

“There’s a false narrative out there that this wall is the president’s vanity wall,” he said. “I’m here to tell you right now that that is false.”

He thanked Trump for listening to border patrol agents during the planning and construction process.

“You listened to the agents and you gave them exactly what they asked for,” he said.

One official with Trump confirmed that the structure was funded with regular Congressional appropriations in the FY 2017 and FY 2018 and that that the new wall replaced an inferior structure.

Trump said that he still considered the situation on the border a national emergency, but as more wall went up he could withdraw military forces.

“I hope you’re impressed,” he told reporters as he took questions about the project.

One worker told Trump of a tradition of workers signing the wall if they worked on the wall.

“I’ll sign it,” Trump said, and went to the wall and signed the steel barrier with a marker before encouraging other officials present to do the same.

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