The ‘but Hillary’s emails’ crowd goes silent about Trump’s document destruction
Kurt Bardella – February 8, 2022
Let’s play a game. When did the following headlines run?
“Documents Improperly Taken from White House to Archives.”
“National Archives had to retrieve White House records” from private property.
If you didn’t know any better, you might think they were from the 2016 presidential campaign.
Remember when, in October 2016, House Republicans launched a series of hearings attacking the then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her emails?
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who now serves as the lead Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, fumed that “Hillary Clinton gets treated different than anybody else.” Another member of the panel stated, “This is the reason for this hearing – the sloppiness, the messiness, and the ability for a secretary of State to do something that shouldn’t have been done.” Another Republican weighed in, “I want to know about the destruction – the hammering of BlackBerrys.” The panel’s chairman at the time, Jason Chaffetz, who can now be seen espousing self-righteous nonsense of Fox News, attacked Clinton, “The secretary had a choice. She chose to not abide by the rules of the State Department.”
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And yet, here we are, in 2022 and we have:
The New York Times: “Trump Gives Documents Improperly Taken from White House to Archives.”
The Washington Post: “National Archives had to retrieve Trump White House records from Mar-a-Lago.”
And just for good measure, we have this gem from 2018 via Politico, “Meet the guys who tape Trump’s papers back together,” and this piece from The Times in 2019: “Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Use Private Accounts for Official Business, Their Lawyer Says.”
That’s right, from the same forces that brought you the chorus of “Hillary’s emails” and the smash hit “Lock Her Up” comes a new spin on an old song, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.”
As reported by The Post, “The National Archives and Records Administration last month retrieved 15 boxes of documents and other items from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence because the material should have been turned over to the agency when he left the White House, Archives officials said Monday. … The Archives has struggled to cope with a president who flouted document retention requirements and frequently ripped up official documents, leaving hundreds of pages taped back together – or some that arrived at the Archives still in pieces.”
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The Times reporting added, “More recently, in response to the House select committee investigation into the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, provided hundreds of pages of documents, some of which came from his personal cellphone. The committee said it had questions about why Mr. Meadows had used a personal cellphone, a Signal account and two personal Gmail accounts to conduct official business, and whether he had properly turned over all records from those accounts to the National Archives.”
Given these bombshell revelations, coupled with their concern for federal government record-keeping compliance, you would think Republicans would be foaming at the mouth, chanting “Lock Him Up” and calling for an immediate series of hearings and subpoenas to be issued to anyone who was a part of the Trump White House.
And yet, nothing. Crickets. Silence.
Jim Jordan isn’t grand-standing on Fox News calling Donald Trump incompetent or a liar or “absolutely wrong.”
House Republicans aren’t clamoring for an FBI or Department of Justice investigation into the destruction of official records and use of personal devices.
The very Republicans who led the charge for investigations into Clinton’s emails don’t have a damn thing to say about what Trump and other senior administration officials did in apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act (PRA).
The ball now falls into the court of congressional Democrats, specifically, those at the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which has jurisdiction over the PRA. They may be inclined to just sit this one out and allow for the work of the Jan. 6 committee to unfold. But it is worth noting that at one point in time, Republicans in Congress had half a dozen committees investigating Clinton. They flooded the zone and held a tsunami of hearings over the course of five years. All of which was designed to injure the political fortunes of the Democratic front-runner for president.
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During the Obama years, Republicans were fond of beginning their oversight hearings by reciting a mission statement: “Our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers, because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. We will work tirelessly, in partnership with citizen-watchdogs, to deliver the facts to the American people and bring genuine reform to the federal bureaucracy.”
I for one think it’s time Democrats used Republicans’ own words against them and went to work.
Kurt Bardella is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors. He is an adviser to both the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a former senior adviser for Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.