Cline’s Star Wars analogy pleases Trump

The Daily Beast reports:

Fox News anchor Sandra Smith asked Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) on Monday morning about the “big difference in the look and feel of the hearing happening on Wednesday compared to the 31 hours we saw before the Intel Committee. Chairman Jerry Nadler has a very different style than Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intel committee. What do you expect from him and how he will lead this hearing on Wednesday?”

“We had Star Wars—the Empire got destroyed just like the Mueller report got destroyed,” the Republican lawmaker declared. “The sequel is here. It’s The Empire Strikes Back, or as we like to say, ‘The Intelligence Committee strikes back, Adam Schiff strikes back.’ We all know how the story ends.”

The conservative congressman insisted that the Trump administration are the heroes, i.e., the Rebel Alliance, of this real-life saga, thus implying that the president would be Luke Skywalker—a commander of Rebel forces—in this analogy.

“The rebels win,” Cline concluded. “Ultimately the president will be exonerated and we don’t anticipate any reason to go forward with these hearings.”

The actor who portrayed Luke Skywalker has a different Star Wars character in mind.


Cline’s statement that Trump will be exonerated suggests that he has no interest in hearing or seeing the evidence. He has consistently declined to discuss the actual allegations against Trump.

Trump was watching his favorite network, and tweeted his appreciation for Cline’s sycophancy.

“Thank you to Congressman Ben @Cline4Virginia for the Great remarks this morning on the illegitimate Impeachment Hoax,” the president wrote. “He understands the Do Nothing Democrats very well.”

Cline was then asked how often the question of impeachment has come up on his visits to the Sixth District. For whatever reason, he didn’t answer the question but again talked about how unfair he considers the process.


Cline raises funds for Elise Stefanik

Congressman Cline has emailed his supporters asking them to donate to the reelection campaign of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York.

Cline wrote:

Did you see Adam Schiff’s attempts last week to silence Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik during his impeachment hearing in the Intelligence Committee? The Democrats are completely throwing out the rule book in order to tip the scales in their impeachment circus.

In fact, as Monica Hesse of The Washington Post explained:

Early in the afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the Republican ranking member of the intelligence committee, attempted to yield some of his time to Stefanik. This attempt, however, violated a House resolution: Only ranking members and their staff counsel were allowed to speak at that moment. So when Stefanik began a question, Schiff gaveled over her.

“What is the interruption for this time?” Stefanik asked witheringly. Schiff explained, and then, when Stefanik again spoke, he again cut her off.

Nunes got involved: “You’re gagging the young lady from New York?” he fumed, in an interesting turn of phrase. Stefanik is 35 — hardly elderly, but well beyond the age to which “young lady” is reasonably applied.

In other words, Schiff wasn’t “throwing out the rule book”; he was following the rules.

Cline continued:

Not only was Elise mistreated by Adam Schiff, but Democrats used the opportunity to spread a vulgar, photo-shopped picture of her to raise money for her opponent.

Now, in this past week over $1.5 million dollars has been raised to replace Elise with a pro-impeachment Democrat — we can’t let this happen!

I stand with Elise, and I am coming to her aid! I’m asking you to help. Can you rush in $15, $35, or $45 today to help Congresswoman Elise Stefanik counter the smear campaign of the radical Left?

The reference is to a faked photo of Stefanik making a rude hand gesture. Although it was shared on social media, I can find no evidence that any prominent Democrats disseminated it. Among those who did share it on Twitter it was George Conway, an anti-Trump Republican who is not a member of the radical Left. He deleted the tweet when the photo was revealed as phony.

George Conway is the husband of President Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway.

Stefanik has opposed Trump on a number of issues, including immigration, the border wall, tariffs and taxes. But since the impeachment inquiry began, she has become a fierce defender of Trump, pledging to help “save America from socialism!” This has made her a favorite of Trumpist Republicans like Cline and she has drawn praise from Trump himself.

Stefanik’s Democratic opponent in the 2020 election is Tedra Cobb.

Cline’s “under the radar” votes

Last week Congressman Cline cast three votes in the House of Representatives which– in the rush of other news– most of his constituents missed, but which deserve attention and follow-up inquiries from residents of the Sixth District.

Cline voted “no” on three measures approved by the House majority. They are:

• HR 4344: The Investor Protection and Capital Markets Fairness Act. This bill would “help the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hold criminals accountable and help Main Street investors who are victims of fraud recover their financial losses.”

Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga, one of the bill’s sponsors, said it “strikes a delicate balance to solve this by ensuring the SEC has the necessary tools to go after bad actors and prevent these sophisticated fraudsters from keeping the money they have stolen from our teachers, military service personnel, seniors, and religious-affiliated groups.”

• HR 737: The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. This bill would “prohibit the sale, purchase, and possession of shark fins in the United States, helping to curb an inhumane global trade that claims the lives of 73 million sharks each year.”

Shark finning is a cruel practice that entails cutting off a shark’s fins—often while the shark is still alive—and throwing the mutilated body in the ocean, where the helplessly immobile shark will suffocate, bleed to death, or succumb to an attack by a predator.

Combined with Cline’s vote against a measure aimed at eliminating the cruel practice of soring horses, this raises serious doubts about his commitment to animal welfare.

• HR 1309: The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. This bill would “provide employers one year to develop a provisional plan for protecting health care workers, and 42 months to develop and implement a final plan for investigating incidents of violence, educating staff on risk management, meeting specific recording requirements, and creating a safe space for health care workers to report acts of violence or threats.”

The measure followed rising attention to the dangers many health professionals face just by showing up at work. Over 75 percent of the 25,000 workplace assaults reported annually in the United States took place in hospitals and other health care and social services settings, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The average health care worker was 20 percent more likely to experience violence at work than the average employee, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, while the American Nurses Association reported that 1 in 4 nurses had been physically assaulted by a patient or a patient’s family member.

I have written to Congressman Cline asking why he voted against these important protections. I will report any response I receive.

Cline’s clueless response on elder care

WSET TV in Lynchburg recently featured the heart-wrenching story of Randy Harlow, a 68-year-old man trying to find suitable care and accommodations for his 90-year-old mother.

“Mom is totally dependent at this point for everything, her clothing her bathing her eating,” says Harlow.

Harlow’s mother depends on Medicare, and her condition has made it extremely difficult for Harlow to find affordable options to meet her special needs.

“We know there are tons of gaps were are seeing, or cracks in the system and a lot of people are falling through that,” says Denise Scruggs, the director of the Beard Center on Aging at the University of Lynchburg. “We’re seeing either you have the money to pay or you have nothing, or most of us, which I think is going to be the bulk of us, are going to be right in between where we don’t make enough to provide the care that I need or that our loved one needs, but we don’t qualify in either way to be able to handle that,” says Scruggs.

When WSET asked local members of Congress for their reactions to the report, Congressman Cline responded:

“When we have limited dollars being spread to able-bodied working adults like Medicaid expansion it’s a problem so we do need to reform health care, the Republicans do have a plan that we are unveiling through the republican study committee.”

What is Cline trying to say? That Medicaid expansion– by making it possible for hundreds of thousands of low-income working Virginians without health insurance to finally obtain it– is the reason that people like Randy Harlow struggle to find decent care for elderly parents?

As for the Republican plan, it has already been released and is basically a repackaged version of the GOP’s 2017 health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act which Congress failed to pass– a bill which would have reduced the number of insured by 24 million.

Cline goes with the “hearsay” defense

Fortune magazine reports:

House Democrats held their first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump Wednesday, with acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor telling a live television audience that Trump asked about Ukraine’s “investigations” into the Bidens during a phone call with Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Taylor further testified that Trump cared more about “the investigations” that the diplomat said were pushed by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, than Ukraine. Taylor said that he was told about the call by a member of his staff.


Meanwhile, several Republicans dismissed the revelation without answering to the substance of Taylor’s revelation. “In court that would be called hearsay, and that’s pretty much what most of the testimony in intelligence has been, is second-and third-degree hearsay,” Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) told Fortune, referring to the House Intelligence Committee. 

For Republicans, however, the “hearsay” defense will likely only last for so long. Sondland is scheduled to testify on November 20. And during the hearing Wednesday, House investigators called the aide who overheard the call, David Holmes, to testify behind closed doors on Friday. Both witnesses will almost certainly be asked about the call and what they heard Trump say, should they testify as scheduled.

As Cline surely knows, the rules for a Congressional hearing are not the same as for a criminal trial.

And if Cline is so concerned about “second-and third-degree hearsay,” shouldn’t he be demanding testimony from some of the people with first-hand information– including Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Trump himself?

But OK, Congressman. Let’s imagine for a moment that the phone call occurred as Ambassador Taylor described, and that future witnesses confirm it.

Will you then finally address the substance of what Taylor and the other witnesses have testified to?

Cline votes “No” on extending ERA ratification time limit

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to remove the previous time limit for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Now that– following the November election– Democrats control the General Assembly as well as the Governor’s Mansion, this would allow Virginia to become the 38th and deciding state to ratify the ERA.

Our Congressman Ben Cline joined the other Republicans on the committee to vote “No.” The vote in favor was 21 to 11.

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Cline complained about having to attend a Judiciary Committee hearing instead of attending the House impeachment inquiry on President Trump. He didn’t mention that the hearing was on the ERA, or that he had voted against the time extension.

Of course if Cline wants to catch up on the impeachment-related testimony he missed, he can easily obtain video or transcripts.

Cline compares impeachment inquiry to Soviet trials

To no one’s surprise, Congressman Cline– who has railed against closed depositions in the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry– joined every other Republican Thursday to vote against a resolution setting out procedures for open hearings he said he wanted.

In a statement trying to justify his vote, Cline continued to complain about the process of the impeachment inquiry while remaining mum on President Trump’s efforts to coerce a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a domestic political opponent. Cline still hasn’t answered a simple question: Does he think what Trump did was right or wrong?

Cline says the impeachment resolution was approved “over the objections of Members from both political parties,” when in fact only two of 234 Democrats opposed it. Former Republican turned independent Congressman Justin Amash– who said correctly that “history will not look kindly” on Trump’s defenders– voted for it.

Most breathtaking of all, Cline wrote:

An impeachment process based on incomplete testimony heard in secret by only a privileged few is reminiscent of the phony trials of the Soviet era …

The testimony has been open to the 47 Republican members of Congress who sit on committees involved in the inquiry so far. The House Judiciary Committee, of which Cline is a member, will have an opportunity to hear evidence, debate and vote on whether to recommend impeachment to the full House.

If Cline knows anything about 20th century history, he should be aware that comparing the impeachment procedure to the Soviet show trials— including false confessions obtained under torture often followed by summary executions– is an insult to the victims of those trials.

He should be ashamed.