Thursday, May 23, 2019

UPDATED: Nancy Pelosi Has Bill Barr's Back

Yesterday, after the abortive "infrastructure meeting" at the White House, it was widely reported that Nancy Pelosi snubbed presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, who tried to speak to La Grande Madame Speaker. “I don't talk to staff. I talk directly to the president,” Pelosi said after Conway asked her a question.

Today James Freeman picks up on that with regard to Bill Barr (WSJ subscription wall): Pelosi Backs Barr: The Speaker agrees that senior government officials don’t answer to staff.

This column thinks that Mrs. Pelosi might have benefited from a conversation with the President’s clever counselor. But as the duly elected Speaker of the House, the California lawmaker is free to insist on dealing directly with the principal executive. Constitutionally, Mrs. Pelosi does not answer to the White House staff. She is a leader of the legislative branch, which is not inferior to the executive. 
Similarly, the Attorney General of the United States is not inferior to the lawyers who work on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee. Earlier this month, Mrs. Pelosi’s Democratic colleagues attempted to set a precedent.

Freeman goes on to quote The National Law Journal:

In preparation for a Thursday hearing with Barr, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to allow Republican and Democratic staff to question the attorney general. It was just the move the Justice Department warned would deter Barr from appearing. Hours after his Senate testimony, Barr announced he wouldn’t be showing up Thursday. 
In a statement, a Justice Department spokesperson described the conditions set by the committee’s chairman, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, as “unprecedented and unnecessary.” 
“Congress and the executive branch are co-equal branches of government, and each have a constitutional obligation to respect and accommodate one another’s legitimate interests. Chairman Nadler’s insistence on having staff question the attorney general, a Senate-confirmed cabinet member, is inappropriate,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. “Further, in light of the fact that the majority of the House Judiciary Committee—including Chairman Nadler—are themselves attorneys, and the chairman has the ability and authority to fashion the hearing in a way that allows for efficient and thorough questioning by the members themselves, the chairman’s request is also unnecessary.”

Even better than the The National Law Journal is a letter to the WSJ editor from a Greg Woods:

Imagine for a moment that the House invites the leadership of the Senate over to discuss pending legislation. When the senators arrive, they find only staff waiting for them. They would no doubt walk out the door in a huff. The way Congress acknowledges that the executive branch is a coequal branch is by following this simple rule: staff meets with staff, and principals meet with principals. 
Rep. Nadler’s violation of this rule isn’t just an insult to Bill Barr, it is a constitutional insult to the Office of the Attorney General, implying that Congress has supremacy over the executive branch. If, when Mr. Barr does meet with the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Nadler allows a staff member to ask questions, Mr. Barr should direct a member of his staff to replace him at the table and direct that staff member to answer each question with: “I am not authorized by the attorney general to answer that question.”

UPDATE:  Kellyanne Conway fires back at ‘rich’ Pelosi after clash: ‘Treats me like’ her ‘maid’.

I think Kellyanne understands "winning."

“She said … 'I talk to the president, I don’t talk to staff,'” Conway recalled Thursday. “You know, let’s face it, she’s the sixth-most-rich member of Congress. She treats everybody like they’re her staff.” 
Pelosi is among the wealthiest members in Congress, though her actual ranking varies depending on how it's calculated. 
But Conway added: “She treats me like I’m either her maid or her driver or her pilot or her makeup artist and I’m not. 


  1. There never has been and surely never will be another Presidency that provides so many laugh-out-loud moments.

    1. Isn't that the truth? And ya know what? I think he gets that. All the stuffed shirts at the WSJ editorial board emoting about how "presidential" Dubya was? Trump gets that for most of us "presidential" is "winning".

  2. Members of the House will soon be campaigning in their districts and many new Democrats will be struggling to get reelected in districts that lean Republican. They all rely on pork to entice (bribe) voters and the infrastructure bill is loaded with pork. Nancy needs to deliver this pork to her caucus and picking a fight with Trump is not going to accomplish that goal. This is an odd Catch 22 for Pelosi. If she acquiesces to impeachment, then Trump can stonewall the pork in the infrastructure bill, which is a double negative for the Democrats. Stupid is as stupid does.

  3. This is a dilemma with the prog-left, as I've mentioned elsewhere. They tear down customary practices, institutional traditions, and even decorum and etiquette in the belief that everything before yesterday is wrong--to be replaced by routines of their choosing. Often enough, that chaos ensues, seems to be a feature, not a bug.

    As the meeting at the WH was for the purpose of discussing infrastructure policy, not an interrogation or adversarial encounter, nonetheless Dems approach everything with Alinsky's Rules at heart.

    In other words, they proceed in whatever manner best suits their objectives, and that which most harms yours. Queensberry Rules Republicans always rolled over for Dems as they'd rather lose as gentlemen than break a sweat, or get dirty, wrestling with Dems. Trump would rather win.

    It's a simple formula: You can either be in the game, or sit in the stands. But to win, you have to be on the field of play.