Monday, July 16, 2018

Day 30: The non-answer answer

Back on June 4th I called the office of my congressman, John Faso (NY-19). The thing that got me to pick up the phone was Rudy Giuliani’s statement about the president being above any law except impeachment. I kept calling (see the roster at the bottom of the post), and a couple of other issues crept in.

On July 7th, I finally got a response (see the JPEG at the end of this post). I choose the word advisedly, because I didn’t get an answer.

So I called again.

(Note: The “Day 30” in the title is the count in terms of business days. In calendar time we’re already at Day 48 since my first call on June 4th.)
I’ve been asking questions on three areas:
     1. Tariffs 
     2. Family separations 
     3. Limits of presidential power
I got a letter dated July 7th that says nothing in particular. The Congressman says that he doesn’t agree with President Trump on everything (though he declines to mention anything specific on which he disagrees), and he says he’s working with the Problem Solvers Caucus to find solutions.
I asked specifically whether there would be legislation to prevent further destructive use of tariffs. The letter says nothing about that.
I asked specifically whether there would be hearings on the family-separation question, and also how the congressman reconciles, on the one hand, his stated opposition to detaining children with, on the other, his vote for a bill that would have authorized the continued detention of children. The letter says nothing about any of that.
When I started these calls back on June 4th, my very first question was, if the president did indeed kill someone investigating him, would Mr. Faso vote to impeach. It’s a very specific question, and a very reasonable one, because the president’s own lawyer said the president is immune from indictment, even if he were to have killed James Comey. That leaves impeachment as the only remedy should the president blatantly break the law, and I want to know if the congressman would use it.
It’s a very specific, relevant question, and I expect a grown man to be able to actually answer it, particularly if he thinks he deserves to represent us in Congress.
Is there a chance I can get answers to those questions?
Absolutely. (Takes name and contact info)

Now there’s today’s press conference with Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump says he believes the president of Russia more than he believes the law enforcement and intelligence community of the United States.
Did you hear about that?
I didn’t hear the press conference myself, but the congressman does have a statement about that if you’d like to hear it.
I would, thank you.
The staffer read me the statement, which I later found on Faso’s web site:
I do not agree with the approach taken by President Trump at today’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin is no friend to the United States. There is no credibility to Putin’s denials especially in light of the public evidence and our own U.S. intelligence reports. We know the Russians meddled in our elections and we must continue our sanctions and diplomatic pressure against Putin’s actions.
I told the staffer that I agreed 100% with the statement and was glad the congressman had put it together. My next question was whether he was going to actually do anything.
Because Mr. Faso has powers that go beyond words. He’s a member of the majority party. They can have hearings. They can conduct investigations that actually investigate.
Does he plan to go beyond merely saying the right things?
I don’t know, I will pass along that you’d like him to do that.
Yes, please do. We didn’t send him to Washington merely to talk pretty. He should also be overseeing the government.
Exchange of pleasantries, and we’re out.

Remember, Faso’s DC office is at (202) 225-5614. The staffers are polite (the one today sounded a little beleaguered). If you call about Trump selling the country to Russia, go in knowing that Faso’s put together an entirely reasonable statement, so you might ask about what action he has in mind to back up his nice words.

It may also be worth noting that Faso’s opposition to child separation on our border never made it to his web site. He was pleased to go on NPR and other outlets that Republican base voters are less likely to frequent and say that the situation was a humanitarian disaster, but I never found anything on his own website that might be visited by any of his constituents, regardless of ideological leaning.

In contrast, his modest concern on the Sellout Press Conference is something he’s willing for his constituents to know about more broadly.

Next call: Wednesday, July 18th

Earlier calls:

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