Have you figured it out yet? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not to get answers to your questions.
Appearing before the Senate Intelligence committee last week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers repeatedly said they would not discuss their private conversations with Donald Trump.
They said they didn’t feel that the public setting of the hearings was an appropriate venue. Democrats were stunned by this. They went back and forth about it, with the senators pointing out there was no basis on which they can legitimately refuse to answer, that Executive Privilege was not being invoked, demanding what the legal justification for refusing to answer is, etc. etc. etc. yadda yadda yadda.
But the bottom line is that if you’re called to answer questions before a congressional committee, and you don’t feel like answering, well, then don’t. No consequences for you. No charges of “Contempt of Congress”. Nothing.
Same thing yesterday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He just didn’t feel like answering, so he didn’t. No, he didn’t claim “Executive Privilege” or any other real reason, only that,
“It’s longstanding policy in the Department of Justice not to comment on conversations that the attorney general has had with the president of the United States for confidential reasons that really are founded in the co-equal branch powers of the Constitution of the United States.”
Chuck Schumer, a member of the committee from New York said,
“Unfortunately, the Attorney General repeatedly refused to answer pertinent questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee without offering a scintilla of a legal justification for doing so.
This is part of a repeated and troubling pattern from Trump administration officials who clam up and refuse to answer questions about the Russia investigation, even though cabinet officials have had no qualms talking about their conversations with the President.”
That’s it. That’s all they have for you. Hope it makes you feel better.
So what’s the purpose of such hearings? Well, it’s grandstanding, of course. It’s a chance for an otherwise powerless and locked-in-partisan Senator or Congressman to show the people back home what a gallant, incorruptible standard-bearer he or she really is, hopefully gaining some support at the ballot box in the process.
The other day, I said Trey Gowdy, the U. S. Rep. from South Carolina’s fourth district, seemed more like a demented piranha then a lawmaker to me. To see some support for both that observation as well as today’s point about the purpose of hearings, and also to make yourself sick, check out his “questioning” of M.I.T. Professor of Economics, Jonathan Gruber. You’re welcome.