Eleanor Holmes Norton: Congress has ‘no right to know’ executive branch’s business

Eleanor Holmes Norton: Congress has ‘no right to know’ executive branch’s business

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, angrily sputtered during a congressional hearing Friday that the White House should not be held up to scrutiny, saying that there was no right to know what it was doing behind closed doors.

“You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend. That is the difference between a parliamentary government and a separation-of-powers government,” Norton said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.

It was, to put mildly, a significant departure from the more traditional liberal stance that openness and transparency are must[s] to prevent abuses of power by government officials. Instead the leading advocate for statehood for the District of Columbia literally argued that even the congressional committee charged with oversight shouldn’t be asking questions in the first place.

She made the comments while protesting the committee’s Republican majority for voting toignore a claim by the White House that David Simas, director of it’s Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, was immune to a congressional subpoena to testify. Republicans believe the office is being used a political campaign operation, a violation of federal election law. …

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Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, thanked Holmes for her comments.

“I associate myself with your comments,” Cummings added, thus making it clear that he doesn’t believe the public has right to know what is going on inside the White House either.

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