A Congress Of Assholes*? Maxine Waters Demolishes Basic Principles Of Ethical Comportment

*The headline relates to this and related posts.

I’ll spare you the horror of having to watch the entire video above, and display the transcript of Watts Rep. Maxine Waters as she abused Treasury Secretary  Steve Mnuchin at a House Financial Services Committee hearing this week. Waters continued to interrupt Mnuchin as he attempted to answer her hostile cross-examination. Her mantra “reclaiming my time” expressed her ridiculous position that any words from the guest of the committee that didn’t specifically address her questions to her satisfaction was an intrusion on her time for shameless grandstanding. Note the committee chairman’s explanation to Mnuchin that while the rules can direct how testifiers should be treated, they cannot dictate how they will be treated. In other words, if a member is determined to behave like a rude, disrespectful jerk, she will.

Here’s the mind-blowing transcript. It didn’t literally blow my mind, hence no KABOOM! designation, because Waters is such a well-known and beyond a shadow of a doubt hyper-partisan fool and embarrassment to the nation that pretty much nothing she might do or say can shock me sufficiently. Does it not occur to Africa-American majority districts that electing Representatives this incompetent, shrill and offensive is not in their best interest, even though the Democratic Party and the news media bend themselves in half to pretend she isn’t a disgrace.


WATERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Secretary Mnuchin, I want to make sure that we all operating here with the same understanding. Even though you are not sworn in, do you realize you are under oath?

MNUCHIN: I do, thank you.

WATERS: Thank you very much. Are you familiar with the May 23rd letter I sent to you, along with several of my Democratic colleagues on this committee?

MNUCHIN: Yes, I am.

WATERS: Do you understand that this committee not only has jurisdiction, but a responsibility to oversee the activities of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network?


WATERS: Given that the Treasury maintains these types of records, and given your department’s statements that the agency takes responsiveness to congressional requests very seriously and is committed to providing useful and appropriate responses to requests from congressional members, is there some reason why I did not get a response to the letter that I sent May 23rd?

MNUCHIN: So, Ranking Member Waters, first of all, let me thank you for your service to California. Being a resident of California, I appreciate everything that you’ve done…

WATERS: Thank you very much…

MNUCHIN: … for the community there…

WATERS: I don’t want to take my time up with (ph) how great I am.

MNUCHIN: I — I also have appreciated the opportunity…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: … to meet with you several times…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: … when we were doing our — our…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

HENSARLING: The time belongs to the gentlelady from California.

WATERS: Let me just say to you, thank you for your compliments about how great I am, but I don’t want to waste my time on me.

I want to know about the May 23rd letter. You know about it, why did you not respond to me and my colleagues?

MNUCHIN: I was going to answer that…

WATERS: Just, please, go straight to the answer.

MNUCHIN: Mr. Chairman, I thought, when you read the rules, you acknowledged that I shouldn’t be interrupted, and that I would have…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: … the opportunity…

WATERS: What he failed to tell you was, when you’re on my time, I can reclaim it. I — he left that out. So I’m reclaiming my time.

Please, will you respond to the question of why I did not get a response — me and my colleagues — to the May 23rd letter?

MNUCHIN: Well, I was going to tell you my response.

WATERS: Just tell me.

MNUCHIN: OK. So first of all — OK, let me just say that the Department of Treasury has cooperated extensively with the Senate Intel Committee, with the House…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: … Intel Committee…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: … with the Senate Judiciary (ph) Committee…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: OK. Matter of fact…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time.

HENSARLING: Mr. Secretary, the — the time belongs to the gentlelady from California.

MNUCHIN: Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, I don’t understand the rules…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: … because I thought I was allowed to answer questions.

WATERS: Reclaiming my time. Would you please explain the rules, and do not take that away from my time.

HENSARLING: We will give the gentlelady adequate time.

So what I read, Mr. Secretary, were statements of the ranking member and Democratic colleagues on how administration witnesses should be treated, not necessarily the way they will be treated.

So the time belongs to the gentlelady from California, but, I assure you, majority members will allow you to answer the question when it is our time.

MNUCHIN: OK (ph). So what I was saying is that we have provided substantial information. We believe there’s significant overlap, and, matter of fact, I would say that we spoke to your chief oversight counsel yesterday. We have been responsive, and we are trying to coordinate with you the response, and we’ve suggested that you get the information through the other committees.

But I would like to emphasize we believe we’ve been very responsive…

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: … and will continue to do so.

WATERS: Thank you very much. You left a message yesterday — or someone on staff left a message.

MNUCHIN: No, we didn’t leave a message.

WATERS: Reclaiming my time.

MNUCHIN: We spoke to the chief oversight counsel.

WATERS: Reclaiming my own time. Reclaiming my time.

You did not respond. You left a message. Let us keep going.

When any witness is treated like this, he or she should announce that they did not come to testify to be abused, and leave on the spot. The Republican committee chairman is also at fault. He should not permit guests appearing before his committee to be treated with disrespect, and should have declared Waters out of order. The problem is that every time a grandstanding female member of Congress is properly disciplined, it turns into a meme and another false charge of the party’s “war on women.” That she is black is just another excuse for the Republicans to go limp and spineless. (An ethical Democratic leadership would also require her to exercise some restraint.)

Waters conduct is indefensible in every way. It would not be permitted in any court, even cross-examining a hostile witness, which Mnuchin was not. Her refusal to let him answer without interruption did not advance the purpose of the hearing, or inform the public. She was doing nothing more than performing for “the resistance,” seeking  reinforce a virtual state of war in our hyper-partisan national politics.


14 thoughts on “A Congress Of Assholes*? Maxine Waters Demolishes Basic Principles Of Ethical Comportment

  1. Hensarling was obviously disgusted with Waters. I believe his responses were pretty on point, as on point as is possible when navigating in political forums. Everyone listening “gets it” Waters is the crazy old aunt that we all sigh deeply and allow to rave on because it’s actually faster in the long run to just let her get it over with so we can all move on. In a sit-com she’d be funny. In real life everyone breaks their necks trying to get away from her. How does she keep getting elected? Even by California standards she’s a disgrace.

    • But that’s absurd. Being disgusted when someone is interfering with the legislative process isn’t good enough. He had an obligation to the committee and the witness. I was disgusted with HIM.

      • You’re right. People in positions requiring adherence to standards of behavior should be required to adhere to those standards.

    • Today I join Salon.com in encouraging her to immediately run for president. In fact I hope she gets the entire DNC “rig everything in her favor” treatment.

  2. Yet, rudeness and hatred are all the fault of Trump and all Republicans are the enemies of the people. In all my life I have never seen such disrespect and hatred toward a group of people because of their political and personal beliefs. At 66 years of age I hate to think what this country will be like if I live to 76. I just cannot wrap my head around it and I join you Jack with head explosions. Those explosions are growing in number and becomes no debilitating.

  3. “When any witness is treated like this, he or she should announce that they did not come to testify to be abused, and leave on the spot.”

    Has anyone done this in recent history?

  4. Notice that he answered her question, then she asserted that the opposite was true:

    “MNUCHIN: We spoke to the chief oversight counsel.”
    “WATERS: …You did not respond. You left a message. Let us keep going.”

    She is using Alinsky’s rules: to parse language such that you create an impression that your opponent was the problem. When called on it, be sure you can take the opposite stance, saying that this is what you meant all along.

    The inherent unfair and despicable abuse attacked the core of civilization: to be able to understand each other and agree to a course of action. Once you cannot trust the other side to stick to the agreement, no action will ever get taken.

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