I’m sort of flabbergasted at this.
Senior staffers on the House Judiciary Committee helped Donald Trump’s top aides draft the executive order curbing immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, but the Republican committee chairman and party leadership were not informed, according to multiple sources involved in the process.
The news of their involvement helps unlock the mystery of whether the White House consulted Capitol Hill about the executive order, one of many questions raised in the days after it was unveiled on Friday. It confirms that the small group of staffers were among the only people on Capitol Hill who knew of the looming controversial policy.
Kathryn Rexrode, the House Judiciary Committee’s communications director, declined to comment about the aides’ work. A Judiciary Committee aide said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) was not “consulted by the administration on the executive order.”
The work of the committee aides began during the transition period after the election and before Donald Trump was sworn in. The staffers signed nondisclosure agreements, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Trump’s transition operation forced its staff to sign these agreements, but it would be unusual to extend that requirement to congressional employees. Rexrode declined to comment on the nondisclosure pacts.
Ballsy? To be sure.
Demonstrates good judgment? Ummm… not so much.
Coming back to bite Trump in the ass? You can pretty much count on it.
This is stunning from a few perspectives. It is difficult to imagine in just how low esteem Bob Goodlatte’s committee staff must hold him if they agreed to work on a project of this magnitude over the course of weeks without telling him. It is equally difficult to imagine in how low esteem Trump’s transition team hold’s Goodlatte that they not only used Goodlatte’s staff but were certain enough of their play that they weren’t afraid of someone telling him. And, non-disclosure agreements aside, it is a mark of Team Trump’s naïveté that they were under an illusion that this could stay secret in Washington.
Now, given the spate of executive orders Trump is churning out, you can bet there is the equivalent of a full-bore CIA mole-hunt going on on Capitol Hill with various committee chairs trying to find out if their staff has gone rogue on them.
The damage this is going to do to the relationship between the White House and the House of Representatives, though, is going to be real and lasting. I really hope they got their money’s worth out of this stunt and I hope there are jobs waiting for the guys who worked on this because they are going to need them.