Reacting to President Trump’s tweet claiming that House Democrats were acting with “hatred and scorn” in questioning acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, while Republicans did not do likewise when they held the majority, former Attorney General Eric Holder asked “Are you out of your mind?”, according to the Huffington Post. Holder said Republicans’ past behavior was indefensible and also suggested that Trump’s reliance on Fox News may be what led to a complete misunderstanding on Trump’s part of how Republicans actually acted in questioning officials during the Obama administration.
Certainly the questioning of Whitaker by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday was contentious, even before it started, at least as much due to Whitaker as the questioners. Whitaker had at one point said he would refuse to testify unless he was assured that Democrats would not subsequently use a subpoena to call him to answer questions he would refuse to answer voluntarily, including questions about his interactions with President Trump; that suggested, before his testimony even began, that Whitaker was planning not to answer certain kinds of questions. And when Whitaker was questioned on Friday, indeed there were multiple questions on which he refused to comment and he even at one point told the committee chairman that the chairman’s time was up in order to avoid answering a question, which is of course not the witness’s role. According to the Huffington Post:
During his testimony Friday, Whitaker refused to deny characterizations of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry as a “witch hunt,” claiming he couldn’t remark on investigations before they were completed. Squaring off with lawmakers in a series of heated exchanges, Whitaker at one point responded to a question from committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) by telling him that his five-minute time limit had passed, making for another shocking moment. Although the acting attorney general assured that he has not interfered in Mueller’s work, Whitaker has been the subject of controversy for his past remarks bashing the investigation, indicating he may not be impartial.
President Trump has repeatedly decried Democrats’ efforts to provide oversight of his administration and to investigate issues in that administration, even though that is part of their job, and part of the checks and balances that are supposed to exist between the different branches of our government. Trump even railed against such investigations in his State of the Union address, which some Democrats viewed as a threat that Trump would block legislation through veto if they continued their investigations. Somehow Trump expects not to investigated, for oversight of him and his administration not to happen, expects to be lavished with praise, rather than criticized. Those sorts of expectations can only be met in a dictatorship, not a democracy, where legislators are supposed to be looking into what the administration is doing.
Trump tweeted, “The Democrats in Congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see. When the Republicans had the Majority they never acted with such hatred and scorn! The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!” It was this tweet to which Eric Holder responded boldly, “Are you out of your mind? Instead of looking only at Fox during the Obama years you should have been paying a bit more attention to see how that now defeated Republican Congress treated Obama officials. Your people now simply can’t defend their record or actions.”
Are you out of your mind? Instead of looking only at Fox during the Obama years you should have been paying a bit more attention to see how that now defeated Republican Congress treated Obama officials. Your people now simply can’t defend their record or actions. https://t.co/Zgq29umFZR
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) February 9, 2019
Eric Holder was Attorney General of the United States during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2015 and was the first African American to hold that post.