Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Profiles In Submission

Well, they are idiots," Senator Orrin Hatch remarked of Democrats boycotting the Senate Finance Committee vote on Treasury nominee Steve Lyin' Mnuchin.  He continued "Anybody that would do something like that. It’s a complete breach of decorum. It’s a complete breach of committee rules. It’s a complete breach of just getting along around here.”

It was only ten months ago that the Utah Republican enthusiastically endorsed the decision of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to oppose Senate consideration of the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has now gotten religion about such matters as committee rules and getting along.

Responding on Tuesday, Jason Easley recognized "Republicans are demonstrating that they can dish it out, but they can’t take it."

That was even before Republicans later that day fell all over themselves praising President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court. And it was without consideration of the Administration's suspension or ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Tuesday brought the news (first reported by Politico) that

While President Trump's controversial executive order on immigration caught much of official Washington off guard, congressional staffers secretly worked on the measure without the knowledge of many lawmakers, sources told ABC News.

Sources briefed on the process said that House Judiciary Committee staffers worked on the immigration order after the election as part of their work with the Trump transition team.

At least one committee staffer signed a nondisclosure agreement regarding the work, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.

While it's common for congressional staffers to volunteer with presidential transition teams, the signing of nondisclosure agreements is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, congressional sources said.

House Judiciary Committee chairperson Bob Goodlatte declared "I proudly allowed them to provide their expertise to the Trump transition team on immigration law,”  Goodlatte, however, addressed the involvement only of one congressional staffer and made no reference to the non-disclosure agreement.

The mind reels (or should). The Trump Administration may have wanted to a) keep details of the agreement, or how it was formulated, from members of the Congress or the public; b) get a little free labor, not on the White House's dime; c) assert control over Congress and to make it clear that it alone is in charge, no complaints accepted; d) send a subtle message to members of Congress that it knows where the bodies are buried, that Representative or Senator X was where he shouldn't have been one weekend while his family was back home in Mobile, North Platte, or Pocatello.

We don't know because, well, it's confidential.. However,  someone has ahem, male sexual apparatus. Appearing on CNN's "New Day" the following morning, Joe Manchin acknowledged that details thus far and elusive, and asserted

if these staffers did not sign a non-disclosure, please tell me. If they did that I would think that the member- or the committee that that they work for- should fire them. They should go on the payroll of the White House.

Good idea that, but not going to happen.  The West Virginia Senator understands also

and on top of that, sign a non-disclosure to which they can't even tell the people they work for? Let me just tell you, if I had a staffer that was doing something for somebody else and signing a non-disclosure they would not be on my payroll as of that minute I found out.

Even though we cannot be certain how Manchin would have responded were it one of his staff members, his clear statement does add a little pressure on the GOP members of Congress to whom this Trump power grab pertains. (With the DeVos and Gorsuch nominations coming up, I reserve the right to modify my opinion of the Senator.)

If these Republicans roll over and play dead, we'll know that Orrin Hatch's words are sound and fury signifying a Party with no courage to challenge a demagogue.

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