It’s easy to forget just how different some of President Trump’s most loyal servants felt about oversight and impeachment when there were Democrats in the White House. On Sunday morning, CNN anchor Jake Tapper made sure his viewers remembered.
In the final moments of his State of the Union broadcast this week, Tapper said that the White House’s outright refusal to “participate” in the House impeachment inquiry means that the president is “seemingly thumbing his nose at the very notion that the U.S. government was designed with three co-equal branches, specifically to offer checks and balances on each other.”
“When President Obama was in the White House, the Republican-led House of Representatives conducted lots of oversight,” Tapper continued, “on the Fast and Furious scandal, on the Benghazi tragedy and more.” He said that anyone who covered or followed the Benghazi saga “may find it stunning to see Republican members of Congress trash-talking whistleblowers and inspectors general and trash-talking the oversight responsibilities of the House.”
“After all, during the Obama years, in the trenches, pushing to conduct oversight were many of these same House Republicans,” Tapper said, “such as then Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas.” After playing a clip of Pompeo extolling the constitutional necessity of oversight, Tapper added, “Yes it is!” In response to him saying it was “unacceptable” for the Obama administration to ignore subpoenas, Tapper said, “It is unacceptable!”
“One has to wonder what that congressman would make of the secretary of state, who has the same name, whose department is ordering State Department officials to ignore congressional subpoenas,” Tapper said, before moving onto Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also reportedly urged Donald Trump Jr. to do the same.
That is a “far cry,” Tapper said, from what Graham had to say when he was tasked with prosecuting the impeachment case against Bill Clinton. “The day that Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment,” Graham said at the time.
“Similarly, during the Clinton impeachment, Rudy Giuliani made it very clear where he stood on the matter of avoiding subpoenas,” Tapper said, revealing another clip from 1998 of Trump’s personal lawyer telling Charlie Rose that “the president is not above the law, is not able to avoid subpoenas.”
“Now that Giuliani is enmeshed in the Ukraine scandal, however, Giuliani hasn’t even made it clear whether he is going to honor the congressional subpoena aimed at him,” Tapper added. “The arguments that Democratic presidents needed to comply with congressional oversight were correct. That’s how the system was set up.”
Tapper concluded, “If you only apply constitutional standards to the other political party and not to your own, then those aren’t principles, they’re tactics.”