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Top Republican on House Oversight Committee has repeatedly tried to block oversight

Republican leaders selected Kentucky Rep. James Comer to be their new ranking member this week.

By Josh Israel - June 30, 2020
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James Comer

The new top Republican on the House oversight panel does not believe in oversight for Donald Trump.

Republican leaders announced Monday that they had chosen Rep. James Comer (R-KY) to serve as ranking member on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) vacated the position when he resigned in March to become White House chief of staff.

On Tuesday morning, Trump congratulated Comer by retweeting a message from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — who had been serving in the role on an interim basis — predicting that Comer will “be a fierce watchdog of the federal government.”

But Comer has a long record of opposing any oversight of Trump and his administration.

In his press release on Monday, he wrote that he was “committed to holding those accountable who misuse taxpayer dollars and promote corruption in government.”

“Unfortunately, rather than conducting credible oversight, House Democrats have spent significant time and resources harassing the Trump Administration purely out of spite and hatred,” he said.

In April, however, he opposed the decision to create a special subcommittee to investigate the coronavirus pandemic and the federal government’s response. In a floor speech, Comer denounced addition of “a new, costly, unnecessary select committee to smear President Trump during an election year.”

He called it “an outrageous attempt to — yet again — use Congress to smear President Trump…just like the impeachment charade a few months ago.”

Last February, Comer dismissed the Oversight Committee’s decision to hear testimony from Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in December 2018 to campaign finance violations for hush money payments on behalf of Trump to two women ahead of the 2016 election.

“I don’t believe that Michael Cohen is capable of telling the truth and I would hope that, as this Committee moves forward, that when we have the opportunity to subpoena witnesses, we subpoena witnesses that are not recently disbarred, are not [a] convicted felon, and witnesses that haven’t committed bank fraud and tax fraud,” Comer said at the time.

In February 2018, he suggested that he would have no problem if Trump wanted to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein while he was supervising special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which Comer dismissed “a big distraction.”

“The president has the ability to fire his at-will employees, so if the president fired Rosenstein, I would support that,” Comer told CNN. “I think that there are a lot of people in America — especially in my district of Kentucky — that are disappointed in the attorney general and Rosenstein, and you know, if there is something there with Russia, then let’s get it out. This has been a year. This has been a distraction.”

In May 2017, Comer also defended Trump against allegations he had pressured former FBI Director James Comey to stop an ongoing investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Referencing reports that Trump asked Comey to “see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” the Kentucky Republican told the Washington Post it was likely just a big joke.

“It looks different on paper,” Comer explained.

Comer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article, on whether he’d support oversight of the White House or Trump administration moving forward in his new role.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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