ICYMI - Milbank: Darrell Issa silences Democrats and hits a new low

In the “completely unbelievable” news category, we’ve got yesterday’s remarkable actions by Chairman Issa to deny Democrats, in particular Ranking Member Cummings, the opportunity to speak and ask questions during a hearing. (We thought that’s what members are supposed to do at a hearing? Speak and ask questions? Apparently not when Chairman Issa is running the show.) The headlines sum it up:

Huffington Post: Darrell Issa Holds Absurd IRS Hearing In Which He Is The Only One Allowed To Speak  

MSNBC: Issa shuts down his own IRS hearing                                                      

Dana Milbank has this recap of events:

“Darrell Issa, chairman of the House committee leading numerous investigations of the Obama administration, found a new way to silence Democratic critics who question his actions: He shut off the microphones.”

Even by today’s low standard of civility in Congress, calling a hearing and then not allowing minority lawmakers to utter a single word is rather unusual. But Issa, now in the fourth and final year of his chairmanship, is an unusual man.”

“On the IRS, similarly, Issa had said that it was ‘the targeting of the president’s political enemies effectively and lies about it,’ and that he would prove it was directed ‘out of Washington headquarters.’ But Issa found no such proof, and on Wednesday he acknowledged that ‘roads lead to Ms. Lerner.’”

“Issa told Wallace on Sunday that Lerner’s ‘attorney indicates now that she will testify’ after refusing to do so at a hearing last year. The lawyer denied this, and Lerner did not testify Wednesday — and that would have been the news, if not for Issa’s sound-system antics. Because it was technically a continuation of last year’s appearance by Lerner, Issa didn’t allow opening statements, and he didn’t let his Democratic counterpart speak after Lerner had declined to testify.”                                         

Issa must have realized it didn’t look good for him to be standing and holding the mute button while the ranking Democrat spoke. He briefly sat and allowed Cummings to speak, but then stood and silenced the microphone again.”

“Bipartisan: one party to protest, and the other party to unplug the microphones.”

This is an instance where there’s no “both sides are right” angle to the story. Chairman Issa is the only one who gets to speak at Oversight hearings? So much for the democratic process.