Contempt hearing turns into hot debate about who’s giving who ‘the middle finger’

Republican Congressmen Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan leveled a scathing rebuttal to their Democratic colleagues during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday.

In a fiery exchange during the hearing, Rep. Jamie Raskin accused the Trump administration of giving Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings the “middle finger” in refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas.

“Chairman Cummings is known as the gentleman of our state. He’s done everything in his power to bring the secretary of commerce in and to give him every opportunity,” the Maryland Democrat said Wednesday, referring to  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who, along with Attorney General William Barr, is being held in contempt over documents related to a Trump administration plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“All we get from the administration is a middle finger and that’s not appropriate for the chairman of this committee. It’s not appropriate for the power of Congress,” Raskin exclaimed following the developments Wednesday morning as the president invoked executive privilege over all the documents the panel had subpoenaed.

Trump’s move came after a threat by the Department of Justice warning Cummings that he would do so if the committee moved forward with the scheduled hearing to vote on the contempt charges after Barr and Ross refused to comply with the subpoenas demanding more documents.

Raskin fired back at Meadows who argued that thousands of documents had already been produced in compliance with the panel’s requests.

“You could produce millions of documents that are unresponsive, redacted and completely irrelevant to the task at hand,” he said.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ranking Member on the Oversight Committee, addressed Raskin’s middle-finger assertion as “ridiculous,” citing special counsel Robert Mueller’s “22-month, $30 million investigation” which saw the Trump administration comply with hours of testimony and hundreds of witnesses.

Jordan pressed on the wisdom of pursuing an investigation into something that Mueller spent two years on to conclude there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, or to actually investigate all the false accusations that have been leveled against the president and his administration.

Earlier, Jordan had called out his Democrat colleagues for wanting to push through a hearing before the Supreme Court rules on the issue of the Trump administration plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“Why don’t they want to know? That’s the fundamental question: why don’t the Democrats want to know how many citizens are in the country?” the Ohio Republican asked.

The Justice Department had warned Cummings in a letter Tuesday that if his committee moved ahead with its contempt vote, the president would be asked to invoke executive privilege over the subpoenaed materials. Jordan and Meadows criticized the meeting Wednesday over a violation of committee rules, as the vote was scheduled without proper notice being given to members.

Though an attempt by the Republicans to reschedule the hearing was voted down, Cummings announced the panel would move forward with the contempt vote later on Wednesday.


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