Cline rolls over for Trump

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Congressman Cline tried to make the case that Congress has more important things to do than investigate evidence of President Trump’s possibly criminal behavior.

But Blitzer noted that “members of Congress can do more than one thing at a time. You guys can investigate, you can do oversight, but you can also pass legislation on critically important issues.”

Cline said he would be willing to have former White House counsel Don McGahn– who provided much of the incriminating evidence against Trump in the Mueller Report– testify before the House Judiciary Committee “if Mr. McGahn can work it out with the White House.”

Work it out with the White House? The White House instructed McGahn not to testify, in defiance of a subpoena. Is that good enough for Cline? Does he or doesn’t he believe that Congress is a coequal branch of government?

 

 

Cline will hold town hall May 29 in Amherst County

Congressman Cline has announced plans to hold a town hall meeting (register here) on Wednesday May 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Amherst-Monroe Ruritan Club, 115 Bruner Road, Monroe, VA.

According to the announcement:

Citizens of Amherst County will be given priority regarding comments during the town hall. Signs and noisemakers are prohibited.

Perhaps some of our Amherst County readers can take the opportunity to ask Cline about some of the things he has said and done, as chronicled here and elsewhere, since he was sworn in as our representative in Washington.

Has Cline read the whole Mueller Report?

Last week I emailed Congressman Cline as follows:

Dear Congressman Cline:

Before the redacted Mueller Report was released, you expressed an eagerness to read it and judge the contents for yourself.

Have you in fact read the Report in its entirety? If so, does it raise any issues of concern for you about President’s Trump’s behavior, regardless of whether any actual crimes were committed? If it does raise concerns, I think you owe it to your constituents to identify those concerns publicly.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Unlike my previous queries to Cline, this one produced an actual reply. And since it appears to be a form letter sent to everyone who contacts the congressman about the Mueller Report, I don’t think he’ll mind my sharing it:

Dear Mr. Zitver,

     Thank you for contacting my office regarding the conclusion of the Mueller Investigation. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.  

     The Mueller Report, which was the result of a two-year, $35 million investigation, was publicly released on Thursday, April 18. I supported and voted on March 14 for H. Con. Res. 24, which provided that Congress shall publicly release any report relating to the Special Counsel’s investigation, in compliance with all federal laws. The report was provided to the Congress and the public in a redacted form to protect grand jury material, information that would harm ongoing investigations, information that would disclose sensitive sources, and information that involves third parties.

     As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I believe the Justice Department should provide the entire Committee with a version of the report free from most redactions. Of course, the redaction of grand jury testimony is necessary to comply with federal law. The Chairman can obtain access to the grand jury testimony with a court order, but he has not yet made such a request of the court. For that reason, I did not support the issuance of a subpoena on April 19 for the full unredacted report. Additionally, I opposed the effort to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt for his failure to comply with the subpoena, since providing the full unredacted report would have put him in violation of federal law. Nevertheless, I continue to hope that a compromise can be reached so that most of the redacted portions of the Mueller Report can be made available to all of the Judiciary Committee members.

     As you know, the Special Counsel did not find evidence that either Presidential campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in their effort to interfere with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The Special Counsel also did not recommend that any additional charges be filed as a result of the investigation.

     The nearly 400-page report detailed the work of 19 attorneys, 40 FBI agents, and countless others who issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained 230 orders for communications records, and interviewed almost 500 witnesses.  

     It is an honor to represent you and all of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance in the future. To receive the latest updates from my office I encourage you to sign up for my e-newsletter at cline.house.gov or like my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sincerely,

Ben Cline
Member of Congress

In other words, he didn’t answer my questions.

Cline seems downright eager to shift the focus from the contents of the Mueller Report itself to what he considers its suspicious origins– a diversion that even conservative commentator Mona Charen isn’t buying.

Now we have heard from Cline’s colleague Justin Amash, the first House Republican to say President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct.

The Michigan lawmaker, often the lone Trump dissenter on his side of the aisle, shared his conclusions in a lengthy Twitter thread after reviewing the full special counsel report.

Amash wrote that after reading the 448-page report, he’d concluded that not only did Robert S. Mueller’s team show Trump attempting to obstruct justice, but that Attorney General William Barr had “deliberately misrepresented” the findings and that few members of Congress had even read it.

So I repeat my questions to Congressman Cline and hope others will do the same: Have you in fact read the Mueller Report in its entirety? If so, does it raise any issues of concern for you about President’s Trump’s behavior, regardless of whether any actual crimes were committed?

Update: In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Cline said he has read the entire redacted Mueller Report. That answers the first question. It would be good to get an answer to the second question.

Cline opposes bill to make generic drugs cheaper, protect the ACA

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to enable lower costs for generic prescription drugs and to protect the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition against denying health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.

Only five Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for the MORE Health Education Act. Along with the other Republicans, Congressman Cline voted no.

To address prescription drug costs, the bill would restrict the ability of generic drug manufacturers from blocking competitors, thus cracking down on anticompetitive behavior by pharmaceutical companies.

The bill also contains several provisions to roll back attempts of the Trump administration to push junk health insurance plans to the general public. These plans, which Trump and Republicans champion, do not contain the protections for people with preexisting conditions enshrined in the ACA, such as ensuring costs are not higher and that people with preexisting conditions cannot be denied health insurance.

Further, the bill would add $100 million in funding for the program that helps people sign up for health insurance through the ACA, as well as restore funding for marketing and outreach so more people are aware of the health care options under the ACA.

Before the vote, Cline spoke against the measure on the House floor:

“As lawmakers we owe it to Americans to protect their rights to make their own decisions, particularly as it relates to health care… Reject this idea that government knows best.”

Considering Cline’s approval of government interference at every stage of a woman’s pregnancy from conception to birth, he appears to have a selective understanding of Americans’ rights to make their own decisions.

And the Affordable Care Act, for all its correctable faults, has not limited Americans’ access to health insurance. It has greatly expanded it— especially in states like Virginia, which (despite the opposition of then-Delegate Cline and other Republicans) approved expansion of Medicaid under the ACA.

Thanks in large part to the Medicaid expansion that Cline so passionately opposed, since January 1 more than 277,000 previously-uninsured Virginians have obtained health insurance– including more than 28,000 of Cline’s constituents in the Sixth Congressional District.

How far is Cline prepared to take his pro-birth stance?

As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 2012, Congressman Cline co-sponsored a bill that would have defined life as beginning at conception– in effect outlawing abortions at any stage of pregnancy and under any circumstances.

Since he became a congressman, Cline has been pleased to act as a demagogue when it comes to late-term abortion.

In April the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature enacted a law which criminalizes abortions in that state when a fetal heartbeat is detected– and makes no exception for rape or incest.

Prohibiting abortions at the first detectable heartbeat means prohibiting virtually all abortions, said Dr. Michael Cackovic, a specialist in maternal fetal medicine at Ohio State University Medical Center. He said current standard practice, which involves transvaginal ultrasound, can reliably detect a heartbeat five to six weeks into pregnancy.

“Essentially, that’s three to four weeks after conception, or one to two weeks after a missed period,” he said.

A “heartbeat bill” similar to the one in Ohio has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Given his past record, I can only assume that Cline would vote for it if given the chance.

But here’s where tragic real life intrudes on the beliefs of anti-abortion absolutists like Cline.

An 11-year-old rape victim in northwestern Ohio is pregnant, according to news reports, and a highly restrictive state law on abortion signed last month says a girl in her position must carry and deliver her rapist’s baby.

…..

A barely pubescent girl has been impregnated, allegedly, by a 26-year-old man who had sex with her on multiple occasions, and the pure anti-abortion position is that the law should prevent her from terminating her pregnancy unless it’s to save her life or spare her grave bodily harm.

Victims of sex crimes, often children themselves, forced to carry pregnancies to term: this is the logical conclusion of Cline’s pro-birth (as opposed to “pro-life”) position. He should be asked to justify it.