Republican hopes that the election of President Trump would open the federal government's vaults to investigators probing Obama-era scandals including Fast and Furious and the IRS have died as burrowed-in workers try to "wait out" until the president leaves office, said a top House GOP member.
In a blunt exit interview, retiring Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the outgoing chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, said stonewalling by agencies is just as bad as it was during the Obama era.
"I think if we went to the senior most people, even the president himself, they would be pulling their hair out and they would hate to hear that but within the bowels of the organization, they just seem to circle the wagons and think, oh we just, we can just wait you out. We can just wait you out," he said on the upcoming Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, airing Sunday.
But Chaffetz, who surprised Washington when he announced his retirement set for June 30, also hit the president, top appointees and even congressional Republicans for refusing to play offense.
"The reality is, there aren't very many people that want to play offense. There aren't many people who say, look, we have a duty and an obligation to fulfill the oversight responsibility that was put in place at the very founding of our country," he said on the news magazine show that airs at 9:30 a.m. on Sinclair stations and also livestreams.
He also puts the blame on Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not helping investigators gain access to documents hidden by the Obama administration.
"The reality is, sadly, I don't see much difference between the Trump administration and the Obama administration. I thought there would be this, these floodgates would open up with all the documents we wanted from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Pentagon. In many ways, it's almost worse because we're getting nothing, and that's terribly frustrating. And with all due respect, the attorney general has not changed at all. I find him to be worse than what I saw with Loretta Lynch in terms of releasing documents and making things available. I, I just, that's my experience, and that's not what I expected," said the Utah lawmaker.
"There was the investigation into the IRS. And one that was more than seven years old is Fast and Furious. I mean, we have been in court trying to pry those documents out of the Department of Justice and still to this day, they will not give us those documents. And at the State Department, nothing. Stone cold silence," he said.
And worst of all, he added, the president has sat on demands from 50 Republicans to fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
"You have more than 50 Republicans pleading with President Trump to release him, to let him go, fire him. Or at least encourage him to retire. No, he's still there. No changes. Nobody was fired. Nobody was prosecuted. Nobody was held accountable. We tried to issue subpoenas, we tried to hold people in contempt and the Obama Administration said, no, and the Trump Administration came in and did zero. Nothing. Nothing changed," he told Attkisson.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org