News broke late Monday that Trump White House communications director Hope Hicks is expected to testify on Capitol Hill as soon as this week regarding the Russia investigation, highlighting a major difference in how the president’s team handles congressional inquiries versus the Obama administration: they don’t plead the Fifth.
While multiple members of the Trump administration and campaign have appeared before congressional investigators for what the president has repeatedly described as the “witch hunt” Russia investigation, several officials in the Obama administration plead the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination when called to testify regarding a multitude of scandals.
Perhaps the most high profile instance of this was former IRS director of tax-exempt organizations Lois Lerner, who did so on two separate occasions when called before congressional committees to address the targeting conservative groups by her department.
In 2015, former State Department employee Bryan Pagliano plead the Fifth to the House Select Committee on Benghazi rather than answer questions related to his setting up of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured, unauthorized email server.
Patrick Cunningham, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, also invoked the Fifth Amendment in 2012 when called to testify before the House Oversight Committee in relation to Operation Fast and Furious.
Additionally, former Attorney General Eric Holder consistently stonewalled congressional committee inquiries to the point where the entire House voted to hold him in contempt of Congress in 2012. The vote was 258-95, with 21 Democrats crossing over to vote with Republicans on the resolution, Politico reported.
Also, CNN reported on Monday that Hicks is expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as soon as this week.
Manafort has been indicted as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but the alleged crimes predate his work on Trump’s campaign by years.
Even former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was willing to testify before Congress, if he were granted immunity, so his testimony could not be used against him in a criminal proceeding.
Flynn pleaded guilty last month to one count of lying to federal investigators regarding conversations he had with former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the transition in December 2016.
Trump tweeted about the guilty plea, noting it was a shame he lied to the FBI because the retired general had done nothing wrong in talking to the ambassador after the election.
As reported by The Western Journal, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, laid into Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee during Sessions’ confirmation in January 2017 for suggesting the attorney general nominee would not uphold the rule of law, while pointing out the senators’ silence during the Obama years.
“This has been an interesting day at this hearing listening to Democratic senator after Democratic senator give speeches and praise of the rule of law. And I am encouraged by that, because for eight years it has been absent,” Cruz said.
“For eight years we’ve seen a Department of Justice consistently disregarding the rule of law,” he continued.
Cruz then launched into an indictment of the Obama administration for the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, Operation Choke Point, the payment of $2 billion to Iran in exchange for hostages, and the numerous changes to Obamacare without congressional approval.
In all these instances and more, Cruz stated, the Democrats were silent. “That pattern has been dismaying,” observed the senator.
In April 2015, Cruz released a list of 76 illegal acts by the Obama administration.
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