An MSNBC panel concluded Wednesday that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) behaved “thuggishly” when he adjourned a hearing abruptly and denied the committee’s ranking Democrat the opportunity to make an opening statement.
“This was thuggishness. I’ve never seen anything that thuggish,” said MSNBC contributor and Salon editor at large Joan Walsh. “Who treats another congressman like that?”
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, D.C.) added: “This was a show, it was an abuse of power, and it defeated his purpose.”
Issa adjourned Wednesday’s hearing on the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups after his main witness, former IRS official Lois Lerner, repeatedly invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) tried after Issa gaveled out the session to make “a few points” regarding Lerner’s non-testimony. But Issa explained that the hearing was already adjourned and that he would only take a procedural question.
Walsh also attacked Issa for “selectively leaking” information regarding the investigation of the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups to media outlets like Fox News.
He “treats Fox News like it’s a fourth branch of government to help him prosecute this case when there’s absolutely no basis,” she said.
But here’s a little something for perspective. As far as “thuggish” and “rude” behavior is concerned, it’s not exactly new in the history of congressional hearings.
Indeed, consider the time in 2008 when soon-to-be retired Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) actually threated to have Issa “physically removed” from the chamber:
Waxman’s threat was prompted by Issa’s repeated calls for points of order.
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