Written bySamantha Ehlinger
The transfer of party and president presents an opportunity for activists to hold Republicans accountable to the same government transparency standards some GOP lawmakers sought during the Obama administration, Republican Rep. Darrel Issa said Wednesday.
During the first Transparency Caucus briefing in the new Congress, the California lawmaker and caucus co-chairman reminded the audience to hold Congress accountable on open government and data transparency — no matter the president.
He said that “Republicans who are on the record for transparency, whether it was partisan or genuine … now are trapped in a position of either being hypocrites or being consistent.”
“And you only get that chance when there’s a change in administrations so I think we need to use it,” he said, calling for the audience to push lawmakers like himself to demand transparency from Trump’s administration.
Mike Quigley, D-Ill., the other co-chairman, said likewise, “I think it’s incumbent upon me to be consistent, and with both parties that whatever was fair before is fair now.”
Both representatives talked about continuing to push for video feeds in the Supreme Court, and Issa discussed the need to examine the use of private email during a presidential transition.
“We don’t have a plan to capture perhaps the most important part of the deliberative process, which is how does this wonderful almost unique succession of transfers occur?” Issa said, later adding, “When we passed the Presidential and Federal Records Act, I don’t think anyone ever thought about: what about the Gmail account of the person who was on the campaign one day, and the next day gets told to help screen for future Cabinet officers?”
“The fact is,” Issa continued, “that is an area that during this administration, during these next four years, we’re going to have to mandate.”
Issa noted that everything the Obama administration did in its last days was captured, but for Trump “we captured nothing with any regularity, specificity or accountability, for anything before noon on January 20th.”
“How many of these people use private email servers? And the answer is, how many private email servers would be a better question,” Issa said. “Because you had Gmail accounts, you had Hotmail accounts, you had Trump private accounts, you had Trump campaign accounts and of course you had a transition.gov account. And today, we absolutely positively only know one thing, which is: we don’t know.”