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Louisiana Senator David Vitter On The EPA Email Scandal Involving The McCarthy Nomination

Monday, May 13, 2013
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HH: Joined now by United States Senator David Vitter of the great state of Louisiana. Senator, welcome back, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

DV: Thanks, Hugh. Thanks for the invite.

HH: I want to talk about the eruption of four scandals in Washington, D.C., Obama administration being engulfed in four, and the most important one in this conversation with you is EPA. But first, your thoughts on the AP story?

DV: Well, I’m not sure which AP story you’re talking about. What is it about?

HH: Earlier today, it was revealed the Department of Justice had obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors of the Associated Press in what the news corporation’s top executives calling a massive and unprecedented new intrusion into how the news organization gathered the news. Has that not yet reached the Hill yet?

DV: Well, it may have reached the Hill. I’m in Louisiana, because we didn’t have votes today. It certainly hasn’t reached Main Street, Louisiana, but it sounds very, very significant. And unfortunately, it sounds to me like it may be part of a pattern. You know, we have this IRS scandal going after Tea Party groups, no this, it very much seems like inappropriate behavior that has to do with a lot of politics and not proper governance.

HH: Then we’ll move to the IRS issue.

DV: Yeah.

HH: I know in Louisiana you’ve got to have some Tea Party groups.

DV: Oh, absolutely.

HH: And some 912 groups. What’s your reaction, what’s their reaction to being targeted by the IRS?

DV: Well, it’s ridiculous. I mean, any targeting based on any ideology, any targeting by the IRS is obscene and very, very dangerous. You know, when the IRS announced this and admitted it, they talked about it as if it was some mistake, and they admitted it was inappropriate, but some sort of mistake. Well, I’d like to know if any similar mistake was made on the left, if anyone on the left was ever targeted under the Obama administration. It doesn’t seem to be coincidental to me that this is an attack on the right by a leftist administration. So it’s really worrisome.

HH: Two of your colleagues on the other side of the aisle, Senator Levin of Michigan and Senator Baucus of Montana, both of whom are lame ducks, they’ve both said they’re leaving…

DV: Right.

HH: …have both said they have to investigate this, but they also have to investigate both sides of the aisle, et cetera. Do you trust that your Democratic friends would actually probe deep on anything that might embarrass the President?

DV: I don’t. I mean, there’s no evidence that they have in the past under President Obama, so I don’t. I’m not making any comment on those two individuals in particular, but I don’t trust that. But at least there’s a Republican House that I know is going to be looking into it in a very focused way, so hopefully, that’s going to get us somewhere as it did with Benghazi.

HH: Let’s talk about Benghazi.

DV: Yeah.

HH: First, do you think the House needs a select committee as opposed to five different committees investigating Benghazi?

DV: I think that would be useful. I think it’s a very, very important situation, and I think focusing all of that activity in that way would be very useful. Obviously, it’s not my call. It’s basically John Boehner’s. But personally, I think it would be useful.

HH: Now I want to turn to the EPA, because this is the fourth scandal, and it’s the one that no one really knows about, the dummy emails and the beyond the law unaccountable operation of the EPA.

DV: Yeah.

HH: Now it’s coming to light because of the nomination of a new EPA director.

DV: Right.

HH: Would you fill in our audience why the Gina McCarthy hearings are so important, and whether or not you’ve got the information you need to vote on her nomination as a Senator?

DV: Well you know, after President Obama four years ago promised the most open and transparent administration in history, unfortunately, the landscape since then is a landscape of completely broken promises in that regard. And EPA is the single worst example in terms of an Obama agency. Email scandals using private email accounts, completely improper under federal law and practice, using fake names, clearly something used to avoid transparency and avoid information getting out, FOIA requests regularly being frustrated, complete lack of transparency and information with regard to the release of scientific data and studies that are supposedly behind their regulations, sue and settle agreements which are often negotiated in a very secretive, behind closed doors way with allied, left-leaning environmental groups. So it’s a clear pattern of lack of transparency. And that’s what we’ve been talking about and demanding answers and changes to in terms of this Gina McCarthy nomination.

HH: Have you determined yet whether or not Gina McCarthy sent or received emails from the fake accounts intended to deceive the public and avoid FOIA?

DV: I believe she personally did not. At least she’s testified with regard to that, that she did not under oath.

HH: And so if there’s any email, did she testify as well that she hadn’t received any from the former administrator, that originated from…

DV: Oh, she may have received some of those so-called Richard Windsor emails, yes. I don’t think she participated directly by having an alias herself, or using a private account. But she undoubtedly received some of those Richard Windsor emails. That’s part of our ongoing dispute to actually get those un-redacted emails, which we still have not gotten.

HH: Well then, Senator Vitter, one of two things is true. If you get an email from Richard Windsor, and it turns out to be Lisa Jackson, who’s your boss…

DV: Right.

HH: Then you know, either you are too dumb to realize she’s engaged in a subterfuge of federal law, or you’re willing to be complicit in that subterfuge. It’s sort of like receiving stolen property. Is that an issue for you?

DV: Yeah, because Gina McCarthy has been at the EPA for four years, and it’s been four years of a horrendous record of lack of transparency. And she’s not exactly been at a low level job. She’s been at the most important air job at that EPA except for the director. So her whole tenure there, as all of these problems have persisted, is a big problem, yes.

HH: You see, I’m driving in on if you are receiving emails from an account obviously established to avoid federal law…

DV: Right.

HH: …do you think that’s enough, Senator Vitter, not to vote for her to be, as the nominee, because I do. I think if you’re part of a cover up scheme, and avoidance scheme, you’re part of an avoidance scheme. How would we trust you with an agency that is so powerful?

DV: Well, that’s going to get into whether these aliases were only about trying to hide things from the public. And you know, their argument is this was just another email account used because the general account gets so much traffic and gets so much stuff dumped into it, wasn’t patently illegal, although it was clearly contrary to their policy. So it’s a little in the gray area. What I think is even more worrisome is that Gina has been there for four years at a very high-ranking position as all of these problems have persisted, whether it’s emails or lack of straightforwardness in terms of FOIA requests, or sue and settle, secret negotiations behind closed doors, not getting the data and scientific studies out that are supposedly behind their regulations, not having true cost benefit analysis of economic impacts of these regulations. To me, that big picture is even more worrisome.

HH: It is, and with 45 seconds, do you expect that she will be filibustered?

DV: As of now, there are plenty of holds on her, so yes. As of now, people are going to demand significant debate on the floor, and a 60 vote threshold.

HH: And do you expect that the rules will change because the President wants a rather aggressive left-leaning, or very left-leaning administrator? Will they go to the nuclear option to get her into position?

DV: No, I don’t think they’ll go over this. They may push her through notwithstanding the 60 vote requirement, but I don’t think they’ll change the rules over this.

HH: Senator David Vitter from Louisiana, thank you, Senator.

End of interview.

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