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What Next? Primetime Investigations


In 1995, Republicans surprised the Democrats – capturing the US House and Senate, first time since 1952. Adding eight Senate seats and 54 House seats, Republicans – under aggressive House Speaker Newt Gingrich – began the most intensive congressional investigations of a Democrat administration in history. We are there again – primetime for investigations.

As Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the US House Oversight’s largest subcommittee – the one investigating Clinton’s Justice, Defense, State, NASA and other agencies – my job was to set strategy, get buy-in, assure investigations were well-targeted, substantive, and produced results for taxpayers.

The main objective was not “gotcha game” or impeachment, although Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, was eventually held in contempt, criminal referrals to her was made for other administration conduct, and another committee – and in time the entire House – did pursue an issue that resulted in Bill Clinton’s House impeachment. Our job was simpler – find the glaring failures and fix them.

The focus of oversight at Justice was – not surprisingly – DOJ, FBI, and ATF failures, internal conflicts, half-truths, political acts, and cover-ups. We found them, by the dozens, and excuses for them. 

We conducted months-long investigations into the avoidable tragedy at Waco, acts taken for political reasons, laws left unenforced, and behaviors aimed at covering up these missteps.

We investigated the Clinton Administration’s missteps that allowed what we thought, at the time, was rampant drug abuse, overdoses, crime, border penetration, and failed international cooperation. Mid-1990s, we lost more than 8,000 young people to drug overdoses, trafficking grew. We thought this was a national tragedy. Last year, 2021, more than 100,000 young people overdosed and died, avoiadable.

To the credit of many mid-level and non-political leaders, such as DEA Administrators Constantine and Marshall, Coast Guard Commandants Kramek and Loy (plus former Commandant Yost), FBI Director Freeh, and others – the policies were corrected, drug-related metrics improved, and we made progress.

Notably, progress against drug abuse, drug crime (still the largest source nationally), drug trafficking, and greater international cooperation – including Plan Colombia, which stabilized the region and was later described by one Colombian Ambassador as “the greatest US foreign policy success since WWII” – was a product of intensive, unremitting, truth-seeking, and oversight by Congress.

At Defense, we dug into everything from strategic defense (i.e., why no ballistic missile defenses?) to defense inventory management (i.e.. why the waste), from political decisions undermining readiness (i.e., why social experimentation, where does that lead?) to program management (i.e., why cost overruns?), from threats to responses, investment to deterrence.  

Ironically, many of these questions need asking now – and in a much bigger way, as China lays in 1000 ICBMs, Russia and North Korea threaten to use nuclear weapons, Iran looks to build them, and half the world is on fire. Same on waste, putting politics above readiness, social experimentation over winning wars, poor program management, horrific recruiting and retention, and wobbly leadership.

At State, the same can be said. Poor decisions, waste, blunders, bad priorities, indefensible actions in Afghanistan, appeasement of China, money given to the Taliban, fake peace with Iran, the list goes on and on. All this is an invitation for oversight, and for course correction.

At NASA, the world turns, and now we have no Shuttle program, no follow-on that is ready to pick up where Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury left off, are getting eclipsed by China, soon others. The private sector has picked up where leadership has stumbled elsewhere, and it seems everyone takes credit. Progress is being made, but not at a rate that any Apollo astronaut – and most Americans – wanted.

Meantime, we have a White House, President and Vice President, today – who strain the use of vocabulary. President Biden is in a state of visible, dangerous, mental decline, more prone to mistake where he is, what he is saying, and to whom than any president in history. His Vice President makes the notions of self-promotion, shallow understanding, and giggling over death and security seem acceptable.  They are not.

So, the oversight Olympics are before us – a need for heavy lifting, fast-paced investigative and legal running, deep dives, and a serious focus on what counts, on issues like the economy, overspending, waste, public corruption, misuse and abuse of power, accelerating crime, border penetration, drug trafficking and overdoses, failed leadership across the board.

The time has come, once again, for accountability – and may we all pray, with a sense of seriousness of purpose, focus on reality, and commitment to the future – that we can get this right. This Congress has more than a chance to get it right. They have the moral, political, and geopolitical obligation to do so.

Unlike 1995, the world today is filled with palpable, inward-leaning, immediate threats, many abroad and originating abroad, but many at home, too. The world that this congressional oversight team surveys is perilous. Their work is critical if we are to get this Nation back on track. So, let us begin. That’s what this election was – in large measure – about, getting back on track. Let us do it.

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2 months ago

I wholeheartedly agree with everything stayed in the article with a request for [human trafficking] to be added in paragraph 14.

2 months ago

DBM is right…they keep voting for them. Anyway. I took a little time looking for Janet Reno’s conviction/jail time & all I found was that she was convicted but I could find out nothing about jail time/community service, etc. Anyone know?

Stephen Russell
2 months ago

If J6 Can we can
But ours would have more “meat” to probes big time

Michael Quinn
2 months ago

No one would love to see the Democrap misuse of the DOJ, FBI, CIA, IRS, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, exposed and cleaned up, but the Republicans are the “Lucy” of politics, always pulling the football at the crucial moment of contact. In the end it will be “full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”

2 months ago

The one aspect I’ve yet to see in any on air or printed form concerning the democrats is the FACT that they will do anything, say anything, and “eliminate” anything (or maybe anyone) that stands in the way of their one party rule! Do folks not understand what the real intention of the 4 years of phony “prosecution” of Trump really meant? Apparently all to few ever bothered to read “Unlimited Access” by then head FBI agent Gary Aldridge in charge of security at the Clinton White House in the early 90’s and the nightmare they created by allowing anyone, anytime to waltz into the Whitehouse and if security didn’t like it…tough! Or the FACT that Clinton tacitly okay’d the burning to death and slaughters of almost 86 men, women and children using the military (strictly forbidden per our Constitution!) law enforcement, ATF and other agencies at Waco, Texas! What was he “impeached” for?? Messing with an intern in the Oval Office!! That the “media” literally cheered on the deaths of citizens? “Visitors” were wandering through the People’s House any time, accessing files any time, had access LITERALLY to ALL deeply intense documents, national security, backgrounds, deepest “secrets” on file! Yet Hillary Clinton a woman who’s college thesis was on Marxism and who basically ran the White House while Slick Willy would sneak out about midnight for one of his trists…was running the country!
What do folks think the whole anti-gun rhetoric is about? Do folks have a clue that the intent of Clinton’s by firing all then sitting 93 U.S. attorneys and replacing them with liberals was not part of the weakening of our justice system? This so-called “justice system” is a sick joke. Criminals are repeatedly turned loose after laughable sentences for violent crimes! The whole sick BLM destruction was to weaken our police and ultimately eliminate them. And what would replace them? Look at Russia, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba…these nations were all once free nations…Some may remember George Bush’s presidential speech where he opined; “We must usher in the New World Order.” I was just waking up to what was happening to our America…and that statement still gives me chills.But the most egregious wound to this nation is that it’s corporately forgotten it’s God.
Patrick Henry once warned “When a nation forgets it’s God, tyrants soon forge it’s chains.” Oh how right he was. We’re losing this nation, perhaps it’s already lost.

Cat S
2 months ago
Reply to  Denise

Kudos, Denise! Well stated.

2 months ago

Use the democrat model and have endless investigations into everything suspicious the democrats do. Put them on the defensive and expose what they have been doing.

2 months ago

Except that no matter how badly the Dems screw up, people keep voting for them. The big Red wave was a ripple at best.

2 months ago
Reply to  DBM

While the election results were disappointing, I am more concerned about the media influence through censorship and selective coverage of things that favor the radical left and demonize the right. All parties agreed on economy and inflation as the leading concern, but a majority still signed up for more of the same. Do I really believe that Americans are willing to sacrifice prosperity for the right to kill the unborn and go green faster than our infrastructure can handle it? Attack ads lied about pro life candidates, claiming that abortion bans would be absolute, not even allowing abortion to save the mother’s life. Media pundits gave the DNC hundreds of hours of free advertising on this and the so called climate emergency. They told us that Republicans would dismantle our freedoms and restrict our voting rights, destroy the planet, etc.,(while Dems systematically dismantle the Constitution and allow Tater Joe to mandate and legislate by executive order). They scared the sheeple and once again, influenced an election. Some of the races were so close, it is a reasonable assumption that outcomes were changed, all because a narrative can be bought. Shame on Soros, Gates, Zuckerberg, Big Pharma and all the giant corporations who have decided they will control the will of the people also, shame on the people who are gullible enough to succumb to their influence! We can’t really say any election was ever stolen, no they are generally paid for with such obscene amounts of money, I can only imagine a thousand better uses for such wealth!

2 months ago
Reply to  DBM

What’s even worse is the moronic fools who flee a crazy leftist state like California and then continue to vote blue in the red states they fled too! Here in Nevada, SoCal flees to Vegas and SF to Reno. Apparently they missed the high cost of living and the nanny governance they were used to in California! Stop it, you are killing Nevada!

Sharon Ormsby
2 months ago

Yes, investigations, for sure!

Letts Brandon
2 months ago

Destruction is the answer. Nuclear weapons tests welcomed. Start with Michigan Please!

2 months ago

The first objective of the Republican controlled House, should we actually achieve that, should be to use the power of the purse to cripple the Biden agenda completely. That means forcing the Executive Branch, through whatever budget cuts are necessary, to actually enforce existing immigration laws and stop the wholesale flooding of the United States with illegals aliens on our southern border. Don’t think for a second that illegals don’t vote in our elections and have been for years. That means an end to the Biden administration’s simply ramping up processing of illegals faster as a means of saying “our border is secure”.

It also means forcing the Executive Branch, again through whatever budget cuts necessary, to get both the FBI and the DOJ to back away from the STAZI-like tactics being employed by the Biden administration. Having either Wray or Garland testify before Congress will change nothing. Both will either stonewall on every question asked or give the usual canned answers that say nothing.

Thirdly, cut whatever other federal agency and department budgets are necessary to force the Executive Branch to reverse the devestatingly bad energy policies they have been enacted under Joe Biden in order to 1) restore America’s energy independence, 2) get the Biden administration to commit publicly to completely abandon their “War on Fossil Fuels” and provide certainty to markets in order to end the inflationary pressure that bad energy policy has had on the overall economy stoking inflationary pressures all across the supply chain and 3) end the moratorium the Executive Branch has sanctioned on preventing banks from providing credit to oil and natural gas producing companies.

Holding endless hearings may be what the politicians want to do over the next 2 years, but Congressional hearings don’t result in substantial policy shifts. They may make for great photo ops for future re-election campaigns, but that is about it. No one really is ever held accountable for obvious corrupt or criminal actions when they are a high-level Democrat in Washington. Crippling the Biden agenda by cutting off its money supply to fund its various initiatives is what will really force a positive change for the people in this country. Given all the existing and potential threats we face both on the domestic and foreign fronts, we don’t have the luxury is wasting years on endless hearings that usually result in nothing of substance being accomplished.

Criminal referrals from Congress to the DOJ or the FBI from Republicans are frequently ignored. Letters from Congressional Republicans to various Executive Branch agencies and departmentds are also similarly ignored or slow-walked through the bureaucracy until the matter is forgotten or replaced by something else down the road. What this country needs ASAP is effective change that alters the trajectory this country is on under Democrat rule. That should be the NUMBER ONE FOCUS of either chamber of Congress the Republicans may end up controlling. Smart use of power is essential. Endless Congressional hearings are NOT a smart use of any power Congressional Republicans might have over the next 2 years. If all Republicans focus on is endless hearings for the next 2 years, then in 2024 the Democrats will run on the fact that a Republican led Congress accomplished nothing.

anna hubert
2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Straight to the point as usual There is only one thing missing for all of it to be done True Grit If we want to find it we better start digging in the haystack

2 months ago
Reply to  anna hubert

True. That was the basic assumption for being able to get anything done at all. Any intelligent use of whatever control of Congress the Republicans end up with is completely dependent on having the courage to exercise that power to optimize results. That means if we control the House, then we need a much better Speaker of the House than Kevin McCarthy. He has already shown in the past that he is NOT up to the task. Too much of a “go along to get along” type far too concerned with not rocking the boat. On the Senate side, should we actually end up with control of that Chamber as well, McConnell definitely needs to be replaced ASAP by someone else far less interested in just maintaining the status quo and “walking across the aisle” to help Democrats in passing ruinous legislation.

2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

You used the word STAZI/like; have you read the book “Stasiland” by Anna Funder? It’s hard to believe that these things actually happened after WWII.

Dan W.
2 months ago

As much as these investigations devolve into opportunities for political (and self-serving) posturing, this next Congress won’t be generating much, if any, legislation that will be signed into law so at least investigating will give them something to do.

2 months ago
Reply to  Dan W.

That about sums up the value of congressional hearings. “Giving them something to do”. What a goal huh? Then we wonder why we’re in the shape we’re in. Great wastes of time with little to show for them.

While we can’t get any positive legislation enacted under the likely outcome of the elections, we can at least prevent more horrific legislation (at least hopefully if the Republicans don’t cave yet again) from being passed.

2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Do you feel it makes GOP look weak if we don’t go after them?

2 months ago
Reply to  Cathleen

The purpose of Congress is essentially two-fold. One is it is tasked with budgetary powers in terms of controlling what gets funded and by how much and what doesn’t get funded at all, based on whether it is a valid and constitutional use of taxpayer money and legitimate national need. The second purpose of Congress is oversight to ensure what is being authorized by Congress is being spent properly and the stated results are being delivered for the benefit of the People. That is essentially the role of Congress.

As for “going after them”, Congress has the oversight authority to ensure that all monies being authorized for expenditure by the federal government are being spent properly. Also that all legislation enacted by Congress is being administered properly by the various federal agencies entrusted within the Executive Branch to handle their respective duties.

Congress can hold hearings concerning all the above. However, Congress has NO prosecutorial powers at all. Absolutely NONE! If during the course of any congressional investigation, it discovers either suspected political corruption or suspected criminal activity, its only real avenue of recourse is to refer the matter to either the DOJ or the FBI for further investigation and additional law enforcement action. Neither the DOJ nor the FBI are obligated to follow-up on the referral other than acknowledge they received it. All Congress itself can do to attempt to force any such potential corruption or criminal activity from continuing is to use the power of the purse and cease federal funding of a respective federal program, agency or department involved. That’s it! Congress can’t arrest and prosecute anyone.

I suggest you look back over all the Congressional hearings held by Republicans over the last 20 years and look at how many referrals were made by Congressional Republicans to DOJ or FBI and how many resulted in any high-level Democrat having to face any real accountability for his or her actions. Congressional hearings generally make for great theater and sometimes useful photo ops for future re-election campaigns (which is why politicians on both sides of the aisle like them so much), but in terms of “bringing corrupt or criminally negligent Democrats to justice or ending waste of taxpayer dollars, they have been a dismal failure and a huge waste of time.

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