Pigs flying. Signs of apocalypse?
Was there something in the water today? A double-bent moon shot full of tequila. Could King George III be sane?
On Friday, unconfirmed word circulated that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50th District) would reverse course suddenly and hold an in-person town hall meeting. The next day, Mike Harrison, a Hunter aide, sent emails to Indivisible leaders saying a town hall would take place.
Later Friday, appearing on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49th District) rather enthusiastically called for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference on behalf of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. And, oh by the way, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Sessions’ deputy attorney general, should recuse themselves from the investigation, Issa added. (A full transcript of the interview is attached below.)
After Issa began his real time experience with Maher spouting dubious claims about his Tuesday industrial park surprise town hall, the mad fool from Vista got down to brass balls tacks. With Maher poking at Issa’s rather flamboyant — Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS — investigative past, Issa tee’d it up and let it rip.
“Say the Russians hacked only Mitt Romney and there was a lot of contact between the Obama administration and Russia,” Maher said. “You going to let that slide?
“No,” Issa said.
“Oh, so you’re not going to let this slide?” Maher asked of the current controversy facing the Trump administration.
“No,” Issa said again.
“We’re going to ask the intelligence committees of the House and Senate to investigate within the special areas they oversee,” he added.
That’s music to many American’s ears, and a major crack in the Republican deflection wall. Pressed by Maher, Issa agreed Sessions “who was on the campaign and who is an appointee,” should recuse himself from the investigation. Sessions’ deputy attorney general also shouldn’t be involved in the investigation, Issa said.
“You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office to take — not just to recuse,” Issa continued. “You can’t just give it to your deputy. That’s another political appointee.”
Issa added of the Russians: “We have to work with them. We don’t have to trust them. We need to investigate their activities and we need to do it because they are bad people.”
Duncan Hunter town hall?
Word circulated Friday that Hunter would hold an in-person town hall 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 11 at Ramona Mainstage, 626 Main St., Ramona 92065.
Of San Diego County’s five representatives, 3 and 1/2 held in-person town halls during the congressional break designated, in part, for reps to visit home districts and speak to constituents.
Democrats Scott Peters (52nd District) and Susan Davis (53rd District) held a joint Liberty Station town hall on Wednesday before a standing room only crowd. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-51st District) also met publicly with constituents.
The one-half solution came courtesy of Issa. Yes, he met with protestors outside his office Tuesday, even bragged about it to Maher.
However, that was a surprise appearance tethered to an equally surprising first-time-ever coincidental turnout of Issa supporters. Issa didn’t show for the long-publicized emergency health care town hall meeting Tuesday night that attracted upwards of 2,000 people.
That left the loneliest number, one, for Hunter. Not only did Hunter steadfastly refuse to meet with constituents, he even said he wouldn’t do so in 2017 at all. Then, he said anyone at his El Cajon or Temecula office asking for a town hall would be considered a trespasser, implying they would be arrested.
Mike Harrison, Hunter’s El Cajon aide, passed along a statement that even was affixed to a wood pole by the office, on Wednesday touting the trespasser charges. So, it was surprising, to say the least, to hear word Friday of a complete reversal of policy fortune.
Nonetheless, San Diego’s NBC7 reported: “Harrison told NBC 7 staff of the congressman’s El Cajon office has had a standing meeting date, Tuesday’s at 10 a.m., and met with constituents regularly. Harrison said there is also the plan for a town hall March 11th, at the Ramona Mainstage at 10 a.m.
“As for Hunter’s appearance in meetings during the recess, Harrison said scheduling conflicts have kept the congressman from attending. While Harrison said it’s important for the representative to be visible and accessible, he had a lot of pre-arranged stuff already on the calendar.”
Hunter’s staff never has been shy about producing voluminous media materials for each of his well-publicized adventures with the exception of the Office of Congressional Ethics investigation of him for spending campaign funding for personal expenses violating federal law.
Hunter has repaid over $60,000 of illegal spending that went for daily personal expenses, foreign trips, gas, dining and even plane rides for his pet bunny rabbit.
While a surprising turnaround, the meeting will take place, Hunter’s office confirmed Saturday.
Transcript of interview with Representative Darrell Issa on Real Time with Bill Maher (Friday, February 24th, 2016)
Transcribed by Monica Stufft
BM: First up, he is a nine-term US Representative and senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, the person who is responsible for all the protestors outside, Congressman Darrell Issa is over here. Congressman, how are you, Sir?
BM: Thank you for coming back. Oh, okay, so there are protestors outside but last week…
DI: Those are my people.
BM: Those are, those are not your people.
DI: They are always there with me.
BM: Last week we had, last week they said that there would be many protestors for this Milo guy who was on the show and no one showed up because it rained. (a rye look at crowd) But this issue, that they are upset with you about, having a town hall. Now, excuse me, but in 2009, it seems to me, when the shoe was on the other foot, the Democrats showed up at the town hall meetings and took the yelling. It looks like you Republicans, including you sir, are just ducking it.
BM: Well, that is what they are upset about, that you haven’t had a town hall.
DI: Well, you know, we did have town halls in 2009, both parties did.
BM: No, no, that’s when they liked you.
DI: No, no, no, no. This is a serious question and deserves a serious answer.
BM: I’m serious.
DI: We, uh…town halls are in fact, you sponsor them, you bring people in, it is open to the public, uh, I had over 14 separate events open to the public in the last two weeks, including one in which several hundred people showed up my office to protest and I went out and met with them. Now I did
BM: In your office? That seems like a small space for that.
DI: No, it was outside my office. As a matter of fact, it was outside on both sides of the street for about an acre. Uh, but the reality is that there are not enough town hall meetings. We have gone to tele-town hall. It is definitely something there needs to be more. Just so you know, Bill, there was no problem at all in those 90 minutes with the protestors outside my office, there was no problem at all hearing their fears, particularly in two areas. We’ve got to get the whole question of immigration and refugees right and we’ve got to figure out how to take the fear of health care reform. And that’s loud and clear.
BM: Well, I think the question that they are asking, the few people who have actually had a real town hall and I can’t wait until the fact checking comes in on this (points at Issa). Um, but I think, the question they keep asking-
DI: (interrupting) Mine was broadcast on all the television channels..
BM: Okay, okay, may be. I’ve heard different but maybe you are right. Um, but I think what they are saying to the Republicans there is, what is your plan. And that is an answer, they just can’t seem to come up with. What is your plan? They had years (audience applauds) to come up with one. You know, Obamacare it keeps going up in its popularity. It wasn’t so popular when it was the only thing on the table. Now that they see there’s nothing better, now people are warming up to it. What is better?
DI: Well, as you know, Obamacare is a term for two things, 3% of the population that are in the exchanges that are subsidized and the expansion of Medicaid. The reality is, it is hard to unwind both of them. But we do know is that the exchanges are going up horrendously fast because only sick people are in it. We’ve got to fix that. We do know that the Medicaid expansion is doing a lot of good. I was at a free clinic, not a free clinic but Vista Community Clinic this week, and, uh, they do great work. They’ve benefited by the expansions, things they can do, including basic dental evaluations and so on. And just unwinding it to zero cannot be our answer.
BM: So you are not for repeal and replace? If we are fixing it?
DI: Ultimately, if, if…
BM: (interrupting) What the Democrats always said?
DI: If my party says repeal and replace is how they are going to express it, I’m not going to disagree with them. (crowd boos) But (he holds up hand towards audience) Yeah, yeah. BUT (audience laughs), there, there… at least I got the laugh and I didn’t have to ask for it. I thought that was good.
BM: I’d hardly call (Maher laughs and audience yells No)
BM: I’d hardly call that a laugh. (audience laughs)
DI: That’s true. BUT, the reality is, you are right. We, in fact, had health care problems when Bush left office. We have a health care problem in America, health access and affordability when President Obama left office. And many
(talking over each other)
BM: Less so/
BM: Much less so./
DI: Well many of things/
BM: Much less so./
BM: I mean, isn’t that true?
DI: Well, (audience applauds) for people who are not getting a subsidy, which is more than two-thirds of America. The health care costs as a percentage of their income has gone up. So when it comes to affordability for people who are paying the taxes and paying for their own health care either directly or indirectly, it is worse. Now that is not President Obama’s fault. However, if we do not look at Canada and other countries and say, not everything they do is wrong, their health care costs half of what ours costs. We’ve got to start looking at the cost drivers and working on it. Now that wasn’t in the Affordable Care Act-
BM: (interrupting) Let’s look to Canada, just like the Republicans always wanted (clapping).
(talking over each other)
DI: No, but the fact is/
DI: around the world, probably including Sweden, there are in fact better ideas. You know in Canada –
BM: (interrupting) Wow!
DI: It happens.
BM: I know but Republicans never say that. There are better ideas around the world? What, don’t you think we are exceptional here in America?
DI: We are.
DI: We are exceptional.
(talking over each other)
BM: Alright, we are going to run out of time/
DI: But we do/
BM: without even getting on to subject two.
DI: Okay, two (with hand gesture of two)
BM: Can I get on to subject two. You were head of the House Oversight committee, right?
DI: Yes sir.
BM: You looked into Benghazi, Fast and Furious and other
DI: The IRS
BM: The IRS, so, uh now
DI: And about two thousand others.
BM: You’re right. There was. Because you said Obama was one of our most corrupt presidents. Okay, so, now, we have this situation where it comes out this week, that the, um, Reince Priebus was talking to the FBI. He’s the Chief of Staff.
DI: (Issa drinks from mug) That really is booze!*
BM: No it’s not.
DI: (looks towards mug)
BM: You wish it was after I finish this question.
(audience and Issa laugh)
BM: So anyway, so all of our intelligence agencies, you have great respect for them, you’re a veteran, right? (Issa nods) Okay, they all said that the Russians hacked one side like a poker game, where just one player has the cards turned up. They just hacked the Democrats. Uh, and, we know for a fact that people in the Trump administration had dealings and talks with the Russians during the campaign. Okay, so, let’s go back to 2012. Say, um, the Russians hacked only Mitt Romney and there was a lot of contact between the Obama administration and Russia. Uh, you going to let that slide?
BM: So you’re not going to let this slide?
BM: Oh, so you’re going to ask for a subpoena? Like Olivia Snow did?
DI: We’re going to ask the intelligence committees of the House and Senate to investigate within the special areas they can see
BM: No, an independent prosecutor. And
BM: (pointing at Issa) And Jeff Sessions should recuse himself the same way Loretta Lynch recused herself
BM: Because he was part of the Trump campaign. Is that correct? Jeff Sessions should recuse himself?
DI: As I was saying. Number two would be, you are right. That you cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You are going to need to use the special prosecutors statute and office to take, not just to recuse, that’s just, you can’t just give it to your deputy, that’s another political appointee. You do have to do that We’re going to have to do that. Here’s the reason we are going to have to do it, Bill. There may or may not be fault but the American people who are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies sometimes right in front of the Kremlin and then suddenly the cameras don’t work there. He’s murdered people and taken down using cyber warfare in Georgia and the Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world that we’ve been doing, quote, working with. Now, we have to work with them. We don’t have to trust them. And we need to investigate their activities and we need to do it because they are bad people.
BM: Well, that’s certainly not the opinion of the Trump administration. I thank you for saying that publicly (shakes Issa’s hand). Congressman Darrell Issa! Give him credit for that answer. Alright, thank you, Congressman.