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Lapdog and pony show

Reps. Hern and Mullin serve the president

On Oct. 23, GOP representatives—a gaggle of oblivion, cynicism and calculated outrage—descended a set of interior steps in the House of Representatives to a secure facility, acting both like arsonists and firefighters as they stormed the closed-door House impeachment inquiry proceedings. For all their fervor, for all their outrage, they were an entitled flock of sheep, sent by the president, their cell phones illuminated and recording (and possibly being used as surveillance devices by foreign adversaries) as they breached security protocols while posing behind a bank of microphones on a podium. 

Next to legislative giants like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a former wrestling coach at Ohio State University who has been tougher on Democrats than he was on a doctor at the school who was showering with his wrestlers, and Rep. Mike Gaetz, who threatened the family of Michael Cohen for having the temerity to testify against the president, they revealed themselves to be a well-dressed mob of selective amnesiacs

The hearings are taking place in the SCIF, a secure space on Capitol Hill often used for classified briefings, which is located in the basement of the Congressional Visitor’s Center. The SCIF is where the House Intelligence Committee — which is leading the impeachment investigation — conducts its work. It’s the same space where the Republican-led Intelligence Committee conducted interviews for the Russia investigation in the last Congress. (CNN)

And our guys, First District Rep. Kevin Hern, and Second District Rep. Markwayne Mullin, were in the front row like bit players in a fraternity improv show, too full of themselves to understand the petard on which they and their caucus had hoisted themselves.

But while minority-party members once had significant say in who was subpoenaed, a major 2015 rule change rammed through by the Republican majority stripped them of this power. (The National Memo)

That rule, when the GOP controlled the House, gave majority committees deposition power. House Resolution 5, passed in 2017, prohibits the use of electronic devices in the chamber.

Who voted for both measures? Markwayne Mullin.

So clear was the legality of these hearings, even Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano called Republicans on their obstruction.

‘As frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors … they are consistent with the rules. … When were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority.’ (Front Page Live)

And here’s what Trey Gowdy, former South Carolina representative—that Trey Gowdy, for the love of endless Benghazi hearings—would have done with party-crashers like Hern and Mullin:

‘I’m a rule follower. I threw a Republican out of a hearing because he was not a member of the committee. If you’re going to have private investigations with unlimited time for questioning and cross-examining witnesses, that’s a good thing.’ (The Hill)

Nevertheless, the president demanded fealty.

President Donald Trump called on fellow Republicans on Monday to ‘get tougher and fight’ against the quickly moving House impeachment inquiry as Democrats blocked a GOP bid to censure Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a leader of the impeachment inquiry. (Associated Press)

He got it. GOP reps yelped like excited Min Pins seeing their master with a leash, opening the front door. They then marched, as ordered, down to SCIF.

The sycophancy runs deep

‘Did you know President Trump loves McDonald’s?’ Hern wrote in the email to supporters. His go-to order was recently revealed: two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish(sic) and a chocolate malted shake! As a McDonald’s franchisee, I couldn’t be more excited to see that our President is a huge fan of our delicious food. (The Frontier)

That insipid bit of self-glorification, the panting and yearning to be one of the president’s boys, came from Kevin Hern, who at the time was just a candidate for First District Congressman. It was his raison d’être for running. He and the president had a bond, albeit an artery-clogging one, and Hern couldn’t wait to share a Happy Meal with the commander in chief.  

Markwayne Mullin, meanwhile, has been sucking up to the president since Jan. 21, 2017, gladly jettisoning his proud Cherokee heritage rather than calling out the president for his racist attacks on Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Mullin, a man so smug, temperamental, contemptuous of public service, and convinced of his own special Markwayne-ness, he only begrudgingly gave up promoting his own plumbing business after an ethics review called him on it.

The new guidance in this report only proves that you can no longer be a citizen legislator. You have to be a career politician to serve in Washington, D.C. (The Oklahoman)

Please. If Mullin wins re-election in November—and for reasons that defy understanding, he will—he’ll be serving his fifth term as a United States House member. If he’s a citizen legislator, Rudy Giuliani is a country lawyer

He, like Hern, is in love.

‘Our president isn’t always politically correct, and I like that,’ Mullin says in Monday’s video. ‘The fact is, what he says is still meaningful. If you don’t like the foundation that this country is built upon, then go live underneath the style of country you choose to. … I support the president 100 percent.’ (Tulsa World)

“Having witnessed the great moments of his thinking,” he continued, “I overflowed with emotion and joy.” 

Wait—sorry. That was a courtier in the Korean Central News Agency describing Kim Jong Un. It’s tough to tell the difference sometimes.

Let’s continue.

It’s not that Hern and Mullin equate the wants of this president with the needs of a country, or even that they put his wants above a nation’s needs—it’s that they can’t tell the difference. They don’t know any better, or want to. Because for them, government is a trough, a bauble, something they enjoy mocking and whose functions and norms are beneath them

‘You say you pay for me to do this? That’s bull crap. I pay for myself,’ Rep. Markwayne Mullin told constituents at a town hall in Jay, Oklahoma. ‘I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go … This is a service for me, not a career, and I thank God this is not how I make my living.’ (CNN)

A man that dismissive of government should be kept away from its buildings.

To them, it’s not about Donald Trump demanding a foreign government dig up dirt on his political opponent in exchange for military aid; nor his dispatching the aforementioned country lawyer and the cast of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight to that country; nor his paying hush money to a topless dancer with whom he had sex; nor his refusal to comply with subpoenas; nor his 10 actions which the Muller Report cited as obstruction of justice; nor his politicizing of prosecutions; nor his violations of both the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clause, which he calls a “phony” part of the Constitution.

As Hern suggests, none of that matters: “What I’ve found is that it’s about the money in your pockets,” he told the Tulsa World. (Let me stop to employ our favorite Toby Ziegler trope:  I’ll bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in his pockets that little of the $1 trillion in stock buybacks triggered by the GOP corporate tax cuts has trickled down to your pockets.)  

As the president unravels, Hern, too, is flailing about:

‘Many of my constituents didn’t believe me when I told them that Members of Congress were being barred from access to impeachment materials,’ said Rep. Hern. ‘Oklahomans are being completely shut out of this process—not one of the five representatives in our delegation are on any of the committees participating in the impeachment inquiry.’ 

Yes, that’s the point, Burger King—no member of the Oklahoma delegation is on the three committees: Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, or Oversight. Forty-seven other Republicans are on those committees. That’s one-fourth of your entire caucus, all of whom had and have access to the closed-door testimony and witnesses. Why don’t you ask them what went on? 

Mullin, for his part, will not allow his ignorance on the inquiry to be an impediment from discussing it.

I am holding Impeachment Updates in four counties to give my constituents a chance to hear what has happened so far, what the process looks like moving forward, and ask questions about the inquiry. Impeaching the president is a serious matter and they deserve to know what is going on. (mullin.house.gov)

Even though, as mentioned, he’s not privy to any of it. 

Late last week, Democrats announced the public phase of the impeachment inquiry, meaning the GOP now has the complete openness it wants, and can now read and rebut the full testimony of people like Lt. Col. Vindman and U.S. diplomat William Taylor (both of whom the president derided and dismissed as “never Trumpers” and part of the “witch hunt” against him). Presumably, Republicans will call someone like Rudy Giuliani to defend the president’s actions.

That should go well.

I’ll bet you my P-trap against your P-trap that by the time you read this—and it’s almost impossible to keep up with this story—our two Oklahoma representative will be on to a new set of talking points that are equally baseless, yet have them as vexed and bumfuzzled. 

As the president’s impeachable infractions grow—unlike their GOP brethren 45 years ago, who walked into the White House with the constitutional fortitude to tell Richard Nixon it was time to resign—Hern and Mullin, if recent history is any guide, will enter Trump’s Oval Office, curtsy, and then jump as high, as often, and in whatever direction he tells them.

They’re just built that way. 

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