FULL MEASURE W/ SHARYL ATTKISSON: Just a couple of months ago, we profiled Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee which was poised to dig deep on wide-ranging investigations into government mischief, waste, fraud and abuse. A few weeks later, Chaffetz abruptly resigned from Congress. We asked the Oversight Man what changed his mind about being a lead watchdog with not only a GOP majority in Congress, but also a Republican in the White House. He told me it’s more a matter of what hasn’t changed. We started the interview with me asking how he told party leaders he was quitting.
Chaffetz said he has found things to be just the same or even worse since Republicans took control of Congress and, now, the White House.
“When I first started, they had Democrats who had the House and Senate in the Presidency. And that whole pendulum swung, but I’m telling you, in the first five, six months, I haven’t seen any changes. And, and that’s, that’s very frustrating, You come to that point and say, alright, it’s, it’s time for a change,” Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz said the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a big disappointment.
“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,” Chaffetz told Attkisson. “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 just, that’s my experience, and that’s not what I expected.”
Chaffetz criticized Trump for not firing IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“Now look, you have more than 50 Republicans pleading with President Trump to release him, um, to let him go, fire him. Uh, 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,” Chaffetz lamented.
Chaffetz talks about how he believes Congress is still broken, the pressures of fundraising, and more. Transcript via Full Measure:
Jason Chaffetz: I called Speaker Ryan first, and when I talked to him, he wanted to try to talk me out of it, and I interrupted him and I said, “Paul, I’m not asking for permission, I’m telling you that Jason and Julie Chaffetz made this decision.” I didn’t, I don’t report to him. I didn’t get hired by him. I got hired by the people in Utah so it was-
Sharyl: Did he treat you a little bit like you worked for him?
Jason Chaffetz: Well, he was just â€˜please on this, let’s talk about it, let’s get together,’ and I said, â€˜look we’ve already decided.’ It’s just, it just wasn’t really his decision and I didn’t need his input, quite frankly. I am tenacious and passionate about serving this country.
Sharyl: After eight and a half years on an upward trajectory in Washington DC, Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah has suddenly and quite unexpectedly, pulled himself out of the game. Some people might think this is a great time to be a Republican Chairman of an important committee because Republicans control the House, they’re the majority in the Senate, and they hold the President’s office. That means, you would think, that federal agencies can’t stonewall investigations of spending, waste, fraud, and abuse.
Jason Chaffetz: The reality is, sadly, I don’t see much difference between the cutting to photo of their middle with no heads is a little disconcerting can you pick a different sort of move? 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 just, that’s my experience, and that’s not what I expected.
Sharyl: What were some of the investigations that this committee was stalled on that you hoped could be picked up now, that’s not been able to happen in terms of documents not provided by federal agencies?
Jason Chaffetz: We have everything from the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which is really one of the critical things. There was the investigation into the IRS. And one that was more than 7 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.
Sharyl: To what do you attribute that?
Jason Chaffetz: 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 can just wait you out. We can just wait you out.”
Sharyl: Well they, they do.
Jason Chaffetz: They do.
Sharyl: Republicans were very upset in the last few years over the IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, who they said allowed destruction of documents and investigations and other things. This committee, I believe, even called for him to be impeached. He’s still IRS Commissioner even though Republicans are now in charge of pretty much everything. Why is that?
Jason Chaffetz: Now look, you have more than 50 Republicans pleading with President Trump to release him, um, to let him go, fire him. Uh, or at least encourage …read more