On Friday, June 19, Attorney General William Barr lied to the world and said that U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman had resigned. He hadn’t. The man investigating Donald Trump’s friends and allies (and possibly Trump himself) for myriad crimes was fired by Trump and Barr. It remains one of the more brazen abuses of power in a presidential tenure that includes almost nothing but corruption and abuses of power.
The Trump administration wants to replace Berman with Jay Clayton, the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. During a hearing held by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services on Thursday, Democrats asked Clayton questions about how he might be as a prosecutor. Clayton took a page from people like Mick Mulvaney, telling the lawmakers that he wasn’t going to give up his job but he was also not going to withdraw his nomination to help the Trump administration squash investigations into their possible dirty dealings.
Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of California has made something of a name for herself in committee hearings the past couple of years. She has stood up to banking CEOs and feckless Trump administration stooges, and she has exposed their incompetences and hypocrisies every time. Her questioning of Clayton was no different. Rep. Porter began by asking Clayton about bipartisanship—specifically, if he truly believed he would be able to show the kind of objective integrity a U.S. attorney is required to have. Clayton, of course, said that he totally would be able to do that. In fact, Clayton said he already did do that as the chairman of the SEC.
One of Rep. Porter’s great strengths is her reliance on facts and not the gaslighting bullcaca most Republican operatives peddle in these days. Porter decided to take Mr. Clayton at his word and asked him to provide a single example of a regulation or deregulation passed by the SEC under Clayton that had bipartisan support. Clayton couldn’t come up with one because there are none. Clayton couldn’t come up with one because he’s a tool. Clayton couldn’t come up with one because to last this long in this administration, one must embody the soulless hackery of an absolute sociopath.
Rep. Porter, realizing that Clayton had nothing to add, decided to bring things down to a more pedestrian level of understanding. According to reports, one of the reasons Trump tapped Clayton for this incongruously different position in the government was their golfing relationship. Rep. Porter decided to ask: “Based on your experience, do you think independence from the president is possible if you and the president are golfing buddies?”
Clayton said he totally could be objective and that his record at the SEC—the one that Porter exposed as being complete hack partisanship—proved this.
Rep. Porter responded with a follow up: “How many times have you and president Trump golfed together?” After Clayton feigned an indignant response while hemming and hawing at the question, Rep. Porter calmly asked: “Is it a large number and you have trouble recalling it?” Clayton responded that he had played golf with Trump “a handful of times.”
Sounds about right. Only the best people—willing to pretend to lose to Trump in golf—get to manipulate our country’s purse strings.