President Donald Trump criticized House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Saturday for failing to help his district. He could just as well have pointed out Cummings does a terrible job of “oversight.”
Whether as chair of the committee or ranking member, Cummings has been a partisan hack. He abuses his power for vendettas against the Trump administration. And when Obama was in charge, Cummings shielded him from scrutiny.
In February, Cummings conducted a farcical hearing that featured former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen had already been convicted of lying to Congress and was already on his way to federal prison. Cummings did not care: he and the Democrats hoped Cohen would implicate Trump. They even asked about Trump’s personal life long before he entered politics. It was all a flop — one that proved that Cummings had no real interest in oversight whatsoever.
During the Obama administration, Cummings did all he could to stop Republicans from investigating serious abuses of power. He was Hillary Clinton’s number one defender during the Benghazi scandal, for example.
At the start of the IRS scandal, Cummings admitted at first that heads should roll. Then he tried to stop the probe, declaring the scandal “solved.” And no wonder: he was among the Democrats who had wanted conservative organizations investigated.
New concerns have now arisen that Cummings’s wife, a consultant who also runs a non-profit organization that “has received millions of dollars from groups with interests before the congressman’s committee, potentially buying them favorable treatment,” the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak reported in May. Mrs. Cummings also reportedly refused to hand over nonprofit disclosure forms when requested, as required by law. So much for congressional “oversight.”
Cummings pushed back against the president on Saturday, saying it was his “constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.” But Cummings does not actually care about the executive branch. When he took over the committee, he changed the name from “Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR)” to “Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR),” minus “government.” He is not concerned about government, only harassing Trump.
Speaker Pelosi accused Trump of racism for attacking Cummings. The truth is that Trump has also occasionally shown irritation with Republicans in Congress who investigated his administration, and his presidential campaign, even when they held the majority in both houses. They, at least, took oversight seriously as a non-partisan duty.
For Cummings and fellow Democrats, “oversight” means targeting political opponents and protecting political friends.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.