Legislative updates with Sen Curtis Hertel Jr, former Congressman Mike Rogers on the role of Intelligence

December 9, 2019

Michigan Policast for Monday, December 9, 2019

  In this episode:

  • Medicaid and work requirements
  • Trump and SNAP
  • Senator Curtis Hertel Jr with the latest on the budget
  • Walberg, Upton, Amash congressional races
  • State Representative Larry Inman's wacky trial
  • Former Congressman Mike Rogers on the House Intelligence Committee
  • Transcript

 

Jump to:

Medicaid and work requirements

[CLICK TO TWEET – “Tens of thousands of Michiganders stand to lose needed health care and suffer medical and economic harms that responsible leaders could easily have avoided” ~@GovWhitmer #Medicaid http://bit.ly/36ixJLM ]

Trump and SNAP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule would tighten food stamp eligibility requirements by limiting states’ ability to grant waivers that extend benefits in areas with high unemployment. The administration estimates that about 688,000 people nationwide will lose access to nutrition benefits under the new regulation. source: http://bit.ly/36kSJ4C

“This rule could cause one million people to lose their food assistance, while doing nothing to help them find jobs. ... There’s a reason Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly rejected this callous proposal in the Farm Bill' ~@SenStabenow http://bit.ly/2E2f2j6 #SNAPClick To Tweet

Senator Curtis Hertel Jr with the latest on the budget

'I think that you've seen post- #termlimits is that there aren't a lot of major issues the #MiLeg has solved ... The biggest thing lacking in legislature besides experience is courage.' @CurtisHertelJr @MiSenDems Click To Tweet

Walberg, Upton, Amash congressional races

Congressional mapmaker Jeff Timmer in June of 2011 forwarded an email to then-Gov. Rick Snyder’s deputy legal counsel David Murley describing how proposed changes to Walberg’s district would affect the 3rd District seat held by fellow GOP Rep. Justin Amash.

“No question the new (3rd) district is a bit less GOP, but not so much that it is in jeopardy of going south on us,” Timmer wrote. “It was intended that the new 3rd would become slightly less Republican in order for the Walberg seat to become slightly more so.” source: http://bit.ly/356eN2n

 

State Representative Larry Inman's wacky trial

Former Congressman Mike Rogers on the House Intelligence Committee

'The power of the government is immense when it comes to your personal liberty or personal ability to live free from government intervention ... I don't believe you should ever use those tools for partisan purposes.' ~ @RepMikeRogers #BenghaziClick To Tweet
With the #Benghazi comm. that happened after my investigation ... people wanted to find something wrong. They didn't sa they were going to find out what happened. When you do that, the truth is the one the first thing that gets sacrificed. ~@RepMikeRogersClick To Tweet
'The last two chairmen of @HouseIntel including the present one, they turned it into a very sharp elbows partisan committee, and I just never believed that was the role of that committee ... there are other committees for that.' ~@RepMikeRogersClick To Tweet
'With impeachment they're going to find the truth that they want to see not the truth that might be there. That's what I worry about in the current state of affairs. ... people don't have the truth in mind as much as partisan advantage' @RepMikeRogersClick To Tweet

 

 

Transcript

 

Nancy Pelosi 0:05
Sadly, but with confidence and humility was allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America. Today, I'm asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment. I commend our committee chairs and our members for their somber approach to actions which I wish the President had not made necessary.

Walt Sorg 0:29
The holiday season is normally pretty quiet politically, but this isn't your normal holiday season. In Washington, the President of the United States is about to be impeached. In Lansing we're finally on the verge of completing the state budget. And across America, Republicans are continuing an assault on people in need. This is the Michigan Policast we're all about Michigan politics and state policy and the national issues impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt sorg.

Amy Kerr Hardin 0:54
I'm Amy Kerr Hardin. And while the spotlight has been on impeachment Republicans in Lansing Washington are attacking the most vulnerable in our society, doing their best to take away health care and food from hundreds of thousands of people

Christine Barry 1:08
I'm Christine Barry. It appears that the senate majority leader has finally come to the realization that the state needs a budget adopted. We'll talk with the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Curtis Hertel Junior about the outlines of the agreements and how this week will play out.

Walt Sorg 1:24
And we'll also be talking with the former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, former mid-Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers about how politics is increasingly creeping into national security. I'd like to start though ladies if I could with a bit of sound that pretty much sums up the last few weeks in government, and it comes from Hillary Clinton. She was interviewed by Howard Stern about her most uncomfortable participation in Donald Trump's inauguration ceremonies.

Hillary Clinton 1:50
A president is supposed to try to reach out to people who weren't for him or her. You're supposed to say okay, I'm gonna be the president of everyone. Those who supported me and those who didn't because we're going to pull the country together. I hope that I would hear a little of that I didn't hear any of that. And then that Carnage in the street and the dark dystopian vision. I was sitting there like just wow, couldn't believe in George W. Bush says to me, Well, that was some weird shit.

Christine Barry 2:21
Oh, amen. It's been week after week of weird shit. But most of the news has been about impeachment. But as we indicated at the top, Republicans have also been quietly working to screw poor people on two fronts. Republicans believe that being poor is a choice and if you punish the poor enough, they'll decide to stop being poor. And Amy, you have been looking into the efforts to take away health care from thousands in Michigan. What's going on there?

Amy Kerr Hardin 2:48
Medicaid, known as healthy Michigan covers over a half-million Michiganders. Under the Snyder administration, Republican lawmakers saw an exemption from federal law so they could improve is a work requirement on Medicaid recipients. Michigan is one of nine states with this type of law. five of those states have active lawsuits challenging requirements. Federal Courts have already put the staff to three of these laws in three states

Trump administration appealed to the DC circuit and completely fumbled their oral argument. State-level arguments essentially assert that the waiver granted by the Trump administration allowing these laws lacks legal basis invoke the spirit and the letter of the Medicaid law. In short, its Republican political ploy grounded and cruelty to those most in need.

By way of example, Arkansas made its most vulnerable citizens guinea pigs for their state law and saw thousands unnecessarily lose healthcare, not because they weren't working. The majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are gainfully employed. The reason they lost coverage is because the Arkansas just like Michigan's is intentionally designed to To be so onerous for recipients that it's nearly impossible for them to keep up with the rigorous monthly reporting requirements. They are being set up to fail to the amusement of the GOP. inexplicably, the Michigan legislature is pushing for implementation of their multimillion dollar boondoggle law, which goes into effect in just a few short weeks and January 1. The rollout is fleecing taxpayers because the courts will surely kill the illegal scheme.

Governor Whitmer asked Michigan lawmakers last week to halt the work requirements as litigation is in progress. I can't help but wonder how many lawsuits will be filed against the state for wrongful death after the courts find the law is illegal. Republican lawmakers rejected the delay in implementation, once again proving they have very little interest in fiscal responsibility and they can have fun sticking it to the poor people. One caveat here is that if we elect a democratic president in 2020, all of this cruelty goes away.

Walt Sorg 5:00
I just looking at the statement from the two Republican leaders in the legislature kind of says it all. They said, out of respect for those taxpayers were not willing to pause our state's new welfare work requirements. These work requirements are also the right thing to do for people who need short term help. Getting a job is the best way to become self sufficient for a lifetime and escape poverty. In other words, it's their own damn fault that they're poor. Now in some cases, people are gaming the system, no question about it, but I refuse to accept the concept that most people are gaming the system that there's a reason why they're being poor, and they just assume that

Christine Barry 5:36
this is one of those issues that has a lot of hyperbole and incorrect language thrown about for example, if you follow some of the more influential people on Twitter and I don't mean celebrities, but people like Michigan Chamber of Commerce, for example, some of the news people have said things are they refer to this as welfare, never ending welfare? Why should people get welfare without working for It, you know, it really isn't welfare. It's just disingenuous. So either they they don't understand it, which is hard for me to believe the Michigan Chamber of Commerce leadership doesn't know the difference between Medicaid and welfare. They don't know the difference or they're deliberately disingenuous on the basis of like, they're, they're speaking for taxpayers. Well, we're all taxpayers. People who receive these benefits are taxpayers

Walt Sorg 6:25
And just to make it worse, they're also going after food for poor people. There are some new rules that are being put in by the administration the national administration on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the SNAP program, they could impact about 180,000 Michiganders would lose their food assistance. What is so bizarre about this is the Congress debated this issue in these new rules and rejected them. Debbie Stabenow was interviewed on msnbc after this went into effect and as the ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, which is the committee that handles the SNAP program. She was just incensed.

Debbie Stabenow 6:59
Our analysis shows law they say at 700,000. It's really closer to a million people and what they are targeting our folks, they're seasonal workers, part time folks. Somebody goes out to the mall during the holidays and gets a job. But then the job goes away in January, or a waitress or waiter that can't control their own wages or somebody in northern Michigan who is working part time during the summer season. They are rejecting what we did in the farm bill on a bipartisan basis. We voted this policy down. And there are 47 of us there with a letter of with Lisa Murkowski and myself who sent a letter to the USDA saying don't do this, and yet they are proceeding anyway.

Walt Sorg 7:41
This reminds me of the old ronald reagan campaign stuff about the welfare queens and their Cadillacs and the people that would go through with food stamps and be buying lobster and T bone steaks. It is just a meme designed to denigrate the poor and I find it pretty offensive.

Christine Barry 8:02
As last week ended, it appears that the budget stalemate and Lansing is finally coming to an end.

Walt Sorg 8:07
For the latest on the ongoing budget negotiations. We're joined by the senior democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. East Lansing's Curtis hotel Junior,

Senator Hertel, it's suggested that we have a partial agreement on the budget. How far do you have to go until we have a complete budget for the fiscal year that's already started?

Curtis Hertel Jr 8:24
Well, completely interesting turmoil. You know, I mean, I think that the, you know, the budgets always in flux. We usually have several supplementals throughout the year depending on the flow of cash to the state. At the very least the immediate needs supplemental will be passed by the House and Senate and go to the governor's desk in a way that you can sign up. So that is a good sign doesn't mean we're completely done. There are still things that go beyond the immediate needs, and there's still money to be spent from the fiscal year but it's a good start. I think it means we come back in January work together to solve the rest of the problems but the immediate needs will be solved in my opinion. Before Christmas Day,

Walt Sorg 9:01
some of the rhetoric been pretty toxic as this debate is going on. The Senate majority leader was quoted as using some interesting terms, shall we say about the governor and the democrats in the legislature? Is that just on the outside? Is that that way on the inside as well?

Curtis Hertel Jr 9:16
Well, you know, I mean, I was extremely disappointed in the majority leader when he said that I called him and told him that you know, I mean, I'll while Mike Shirkey and I disagree on probably a large portion of our values are very different. We've always been able to work together. And I told on the day that I was, I was offended for myself and for the governor, that I didn't think it was who he was, and I didn't appreciate that. You know, I even told him the story about how I had somebody at a coffee hour who was saying negative things about him and I said, you know, listen, I'm not happy with Majority Leader right now, but I think he's going through some things and I believe in the goodness of people and we're going to get this solved. And I said mean, that lady prayed together for you, Mike. And that really does, you know, that's the difference here. And you need to take this break and find peace. And the good news is, is we came back from break with a renewed vigor in order to solve this. And that's those are good things. You know, I think we saw the danger of where this path was leading. You know, we constantly see on Washington, DC, two sides, you can barely talk to each other. Lansing shouldn't be that way. You know, local government, state government is a little, usually a little more collegial. And while there are tough times, we shouldn't be that way. And I, you know, I was really a disappointing moment, but I think that hopefully gave us a, you know, a look off the cliff. And maybe it prevented us from getting any closer to the edge of it. so I'm not thankful that it happened, but maybe it had a positive result.

Walt Sorg 10:58
Two big things that remain unsettled, it appears are one on each side from the viewpoint of the republicans raining in the governor's ability to make shifts in the budget internally using the State Administrative board and going around the legislature, something that's only been done a couple of times in the last couple of decades. And on the Democratic side, there is no increased funding for the roads at this point. First of all, on the administrative board issue, and the governor using the administrative board to shift money around within these budgets. Are you close to an agreement on that?

Curtis Hertel Jr 11:31
until everything has been announced by both sides? I don't want to announce their agreement between them. But yeah, the the agreement that's been made is on for this budget moving forward, obviously does not solve the roads issue. And that's a big issue that we need to solve together, but it does not. I don't think the governor will be giving up executive power I can I feel comfortable saying that.

Walt Sorg 11:53
On the roads. That's been my feeling for a long time the legislature really is not capable of solving the problem that the governor is gonna have to go directly to the people on this.

Curtis Hertel Jr 12:01
It's very frustrating. But I mean, I think that you've seen post term limits that's basically that there aren't a lot of major issues the legislature has solved, post term limits, The biggest thing lacking in legislature. Besides experience is courage. I think that everyone's looking out for their own political future, which makes it much harder to get big things done. And so I know I agree with you, but I still have some hope at some road deal to get done. But I think if they do it correctly, the people would have to have their say,

Walt Sorg 12:31
If in fact, it does go to the ballot, would it be something other than the gas tax, perhaps a graduated income tax or a combination of taxes that would include the sales tax?

Curtis Hertel Jr 12:40
I would agree with that. I mean, I think that we need a progressive income tax in Michigan. I think it's just a matter of fairness. I think that we certainly should be making sure that heavy trucks are paying their fair share of this process right now. You know, you don't have to look at any liberal organization. I think the Mackinac center did a study that showed that heavy trucks right now pay about one eleventh of the cost of the damage they do to Michigan roads, and they certainly should be paying their fair share of that damage. So I think that there are different opportunities. I think the Michigan people are a lot more progressive than the legislature is so I think you could probably get a better deal from the people. I will say that l

Walt Sorg 13:16
et's go to the 30,000 foot view, if you will, of the of the legislative process. Your your view is really unique. Your father was the Speaker of the House. You had two uncles who served in the legislature, one of them went on to Congress. Your brother is currently a member of the legislature as are you what is changed from the days when Curtis Hertel Sr was Speaker of the House that are part of the leadership today? what's what's been the biggest change?

Curtis Hertel Jr 13:39
There's a lot of things you know, I mean, I think first of all, I don't want to over romanticize the those times that were tough situations. I mean when my father and Paul were tied at 55 members

Walt Sorg 13:51
That's Paul Hillegonds, Republic Party co-Speaker

Curtis Hertel Jr 13:54
Sorry, I assume that you know people listen to your podcast. But you're right I should have I should be less colloquial. But when speaker Hillegonds and my dad were elected, both had 55 members. It wasn't like they woke up and there was a solution to that. I mean, the Michigan constitution didn't have an answer of how that will be solved. And they for the first two months tried to steal each other's members they tried. At one point my father gave a speech on the floor of the house, about 30 pieces of silver comparing somebody to Judas, Paul was so angry at one point was yelling at home, he slammed the phone down, said on the kitchen table and his kids asked them if Democrats were people because of how the vitriol that would that that was between the two of them at the time, but they were able to come to a deal and solve it.

The most important part of that deal is that there were six silver bullets in it that someone could take a bill and shove it right to the floor because the committee's were split half and half in the entire tonight agreement. None of those silver bullets wherever us they found a way They work with each other, and they found a way to talk with each other. Now, what's different? Today? I think there's a number of things that are different. I think that there are less competitive elections in there ever were before. So you have, because of the gerrymander districts, 80% of us elected by 20% of the people, there is no incentive to actually be in the middle. The push is always to the to the extremes of your party, because those are the people that actually send you to Lansing. You know, and in districts like mine, the Democratic primaries The only election that really matters, and I probably shouldn't say that, but it just happens to be true. I think that's a big part of it.

I think that that there are less time to build relationships than there used to be. Well, there was a lot of vitriol back, then you're gonna have to serve with that person for a longer period of time. And you're going to have to actually, you had relationships and worked with them in the past on issues. So there was a longer term relationship that was that you didn't want to damage. And again, I think the courage is the biggest issue, the fact that your constituents, you knew them and You could vote your conscience and talk them into it. I think so many people now just stick their finger in the wind and see which way the winds blowing in vote that way, because they're so the, you know, the next primary the next election or something else is going to happen.

So I think courage is a big issue too. So I think a lot of things have changed. And just the general polarization I think that people don't. There's an assumption the other side is evil. I don't think most of my Republican colleagues are evil. I think they're dead wrong on things, but they're not evil. They just see the world is different way than I do. It's hard to negotiate. If you think the other side is evil. I, I think we all you know, because of social media and Twitter and slanted news organizations, and all those things tend to live in a bubble of our own thinking. And I think that makes compromise a lot harder as well.

Walt Sorg 16:48
You've also got the combination of term limits and redistricting coming up. Both of which impact you your term limited out you've got I think half of thing of county is negotiating right now. To figure out who's going to run for your seat, is that having an impact and how the house react, you've got so many House members that are looking at term limits senators such as yourself and kind of maneuvering for that next election?

Curtis Hertel Jr 17:12
I think it's the big one of the bigger problems we have is that, you know, I mean, I've told other people I'm not dead yet. I still have three years left, but I do think you're right, that everyone starts guessing who's gonna run for my seat next, and what I'm gonna do next and all those other things, and really, it'll honestly that's, that's the problem. What's wrong with it puts us in a perpetual perpetual cycle of politics. And well, I can understand why people thought it was an attractive idea at the time. I mean, nobody likes institutional the legislature I think we pull about as well as polio and used car salesman, but I think they people like their individual legislator. If you told me right now we could repeal term limits. I know there's some talk of it. I'd run for reelection. For sure. This job is the biggest honor of my life. And I think in many ways as a public servant, it's what I'm built to do. You know, I don't have A whole lot of higher aspirations. I mean, I'm sure opportunities may come at some point, you work hard and you do the right things and things come, but this is this is where I want to serve. I have a dog in this fight. I'd like to see term limits this change, but it's not just my own personal is for the institution needs to the institution, I think is failing and look at the last 20 years. Well, what's the last big thing that we solved? Long term? Since term limits passed.

Walt Sorg 18:25
we've had 16 years of governors really had very little experience in state government. We've got one now has a lot of experience in state government. But she's working with a 30 year old Speaker of the House who had little experience.

Curtis Hertel Jr 18:37
Yeah, that that's, that's really the point. But I mean, look at just look at the record of it. Right. So 20 years ago, when we tried to experiment of term limits Michigan was one of the best states in the country for education. We're now in the bottom 40. We had a reasonably good infrastructure we have we're now nowhere near that. I can't think of a whole lot of things that have gotten better than this. Over the last 20 years we 20 years ago, we were one of the, you know, best states for higher education in terms of funding of higher education. 80% of the cost is paid for by the state 20% by families now 20% is paid for by the state and 80% is paid for by families, average paid graduates admission was $35,000 in debt, the fact that Michigan is one of 10 states that spends more on prisons and higher education experiments fail. There's no question of that. So, you know, I think that if the people, you know, had a fair shot to look at the information, they may be willing to repeal tournaments.

Walt Sorg 19:37
Well, he's got $2 million in the budget for redistricting, at least which is on behalf of voters, not politicians. We thank you for that.

Curtis Hertel Jr 19:44
Well, I'm I'm happy for that. I think that I mean, I think the ending gerrymandering in Michigan was the number one most important thing that we could do in order to solve Michigan's government's problem. I think that might be the second biggest one, but I'm so proud of the people for solving that problem because it Really, I mean, I served in the most gerrymandered body the country last term. If you look at just historically speaking, 49% of the people that voted for a democratic state senator, we had less than a third of the body. This last elections like a week, you know, I was the campaign chair. I'm very proud of what we did. Most things picked up since Watergate and Michigan for Democrats, first democratic caucus ever to be half female and half male. So I'm proud of what we accomplished. But that being said, we got 67% of the vote and still have don't have control the body we'd have to get 63 6060 you know, 63 64% of the vote statewide in order to take control the State Senate. That's nuts. I think the fact that they'll be fair elections moving forward and the politicians won't be able to choosing their voters instead, you know, having voters actually choose the people that represent them is a much better situation.

Walt Sorg 20:46
Senator Curtis Hertel Jr, Always a pleasure. Have a great holiday.

Curtis Hertel Jr 20:49
Thank you. My friend,

Amy Kerr Hardin 20:55
Michael pence ventured into Southwest Michigan last week, an admissions that 1) Michigan is critical to the Trump reelection plan. and 2) there could be some Republican members of Congress from that area who are in trouble reinforcing this conclusion Trump has scheduled a rally for Battle Creek next week to Michigan congressional candidates held a telephone conference call with reporters to talk about Trump's multiple broken promises. Jon Hoadley it's running to unseat long term congressman Fred Upton and it district it's gone from salad red to purple

Jon Hoadley 21:29
congressman opt in and the Trump administration has failed to do anything to address skyrocketing health care prescription drug costs, fail to act on climate change and failed. It's delivered on any relief to working families struggling to get by. You know, I've just said the Trump administration has failed to deliver particularly on lowering Medicare, allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, which was one of the major promises of their 2016 campaign. And that's why as a state representative, I've been proud to offer them as a resolution calling on the federal government to be able to negotiate these prices.

Walt Sorg 22:03
But looming over the campaign's of hoadley along with Holland's Brian Berghoef, who's taking on Bill Huizenga, and the three way battle and Justin Amash is Grand Rapids based district is impeachment. Berghoef made a point of not making a point over and featurette.

Brian Berghoef 22:18
You know, it's falling in West Michigan in many ways along along parties, party lines, you know, Democrats are eager to see accountability for this administration. And, you know, I think some Republicans are buying into some of the deflections, I should say, rather than defense that the republican party has put up, and, you know, I think many of them are wanting us to move on as a country. But I think people are a little bit concerned. I think more and more people want our elected officials to be held accountable. And this is one of the constitutional ways we have of doing that.

Walt Sorg 22:52
Berghoef told me doesn't bring up impeachment and it rarely comes up in conversations with voters, but certainly is hanging over all of the members of Congress as they get ready for the campaign, especially those who are in the swing districts, it's going to be going to be fascinating given that we've got a virtual party line vote going on in the House of Representatives for impeachment, pretty clear that's going to happen sooner rather than later. And then the dam is really going to burst you think is something people will still be talking about next November?

Christine Barry 23:18
I kind of think it depends on what happens between now and then we've seen over and over again, that people just don't have the attention span, things changed so much, that this could turn out to be just something that happened.

Walt Sorg 23:33
And I think the big thing that could happen would be if the Supreme Court rules that he does, in fact have to give up his tax returns to the district attorney in Manhattan. And once those tax returns are out, I think that really is going to be the mother lode of information on what Donald Trump has done to specially screw the American people and steal everything you can I think that is going to be his downfall.

Amy Kerr Hardin 23:54
I'm fairly certain that those are going into a sealed file. So I don't know when those will be made public. At this point, it's a grand jury

Walt Sorg 24:02
yet, but at the same time, if it's released to the folks in Manhattan for the state investigation, it probably will also go to Congress, which by law has a right to have them the Ways and Means Committee has an absolute right to those tax returns. And Trump's just said, I don't care if you got an absolute right, you can't have them. If the supreme court orders them to release them, they're probably gonna have to release them.

Christine Barry 24:23
They'll do something to stop it. They're shooting nukes at the moon or something.

Walt Sorg 24:27
But that could be it's still another impeachable offense. If he defies an order from the US Supreme Court. It's a slam dunk. Even the Senate would have a tough time acquitting him at that point.

Christine Barry 24:36
Fingers crossed. Well, one more note on congressional races. Gretchen Driskell is taking a third shot at being ultra conservative Tim Walberg, and that's in the seventh district. Driskell was Team Blue's nominee for the last two cycles. She lost the Walberg 54-46 last year. She is a former state representative and former mayor of saline. And the seventh district is The most gerrymandered district in outstate, Michigan stretching from 30 miles west of Lansing all the way to Toledo. And here's another interesting thing when it was gerrymander did it this district was actually part of the emails and the process of drawing this district was actually part of that federal gerrymandering lawsuit. And it was discovered that when this was gerrymandered, they intentionally cut out Mark Schauer's hometown Battle Creek, and they added part of the third district which as you know, is Justin Amash's place. And they did that in order to discourage Mark from running again. They made it a little more republican for Walberg but last republican for Justin Amash. So hopefully that helps us this time around.

Walt Sorg 25:49
I think this will be Walberg's last term. He'll be there one more time and then in the following election, I think the new district I'm not gonna put this in the pod because it's total

Amy Kerr Hardin 25:58
this week and government corruption Well, California congressman duncan hunter just barely hold on to a seat after pleading guilty to stealing 250,000 in campaign money hearing Michigan State Representative Larry Inman holds on to job in the legislature if he's tried for attempting to sell his boat in exchange for campaign contributions. Christine, it was quite a show in the Grand Rapids federal courtroom.

Christine Barry 26:23
Oh, to have been in that courtroom. This is really quite a story. So let's, you know, start at the beginning and then was elected in 2014. He's in his third term now. Anyway, he represents Grand Traverse County. So your area Amy, we've talked about all of this. He was in court for three criminal charges, federal charges, attempted extortion, solicitation of a bribe, and lying to the FBI. And and this is all around an attempt to sell his vote on the prevailing wage repeal to the Michigan Council of regional carpenters and mill rights. And of course, that's a labor union that did not want the repeal. And Larry Inman, a Republican. his caucus obviously supported the repeal.

So he was willing to say, Look, I'll vote against repealing prevailing wage in exchange for this campaign money of $30,000. Ultimately, the union didn't deliver the money and Inman voted with his caucus and against the workers interest. Inman's defense kind of revolves around several different points that came out in court.

One, he had five surgeries and 28 months, which meant that he was using a lot of prescription drugs, he developed an addiction and that reduced his cognitive ability. So he's saying there's a lot of these these text messages which are evidence against him that he just can't believe he sent and he doesn't remember sending them. That's one point.

Another point is that fundraising is something they have to do all the time and all of this fundraising stuff was, you know, it was normal. It was within, you know, the bounds of everything they do all the time.

The third point he was willing To vote against the repeal of prevailing wage because his district didn't feel strongly about it. However, Lee Chatfield threatened to pull committee assignments of caucus members who did not vote to repeal. So he ultimately voted in support of repealing prevailing wage in order to give political cover to state rep joe Bellino who is a Republican in a heavy union district who wanted to vote against the repeal.

And he said he had also been advised by Tom Leonard's former chief of staff that business community supports those who support them and by helping labor he was making the wrong friends.

So all of that together is the story that Larry Inman told to show that he didn't do anything wrong. He was you know, this is business as usual except for that. He was an addict at the time. And now you can see why Lee Chatfield was so important to the case. Lee Chatfield said yes, house representatives are always fundraising It's very clear that you've keep fundraising and legislation separate. Lee Chatfield also directly contradicted the accusation about pulling committee assignments etc. He said he never threatened to pull committee assignments based on the prevailing wage vote, which I think is really important here.

Chatfield testified that the caucus always knew Billino was a no vote. There was no need to cover for Bellino's no vote on repealing prevailing wage. It's going to go to the jury early next week, Monday or Tuesday. One witness they haven't been able to bring in his State Representative Steve Marino, who sits by Larry Inman, and allegedly kept a document that track the republican position on prevailing wage. So he his documents said who was in support of it and who was against it, that document could show the details of what Inman was thinking. So that's, you know, that's kind of I don't know, the whole thing is kind of convoluted stuff. It's just going to come down to I think it was more convincing.

And one thing we were talking about before the show started was, you know, I kind of feel like this is the kind of thing that happens a lot. Larry Inman was just more blatant about it more out in the open.

Walt Sorg 30:16
I worked for the legislature for 10 years, and I never saw anything that approached this. I saw people applying subtle pressure to get campaign contributions, but it was never quite this blatant in this open about a straight exchange of a vote for money. But he could have used the Trump argument Trump argues that because he ultimately gave Ukraine the money, there couldn't have been a quid pro quo. Well, in the never got the bribe, so therefore there was no crime. So he's not guilty. Right?

Amy Kerr Hardin 30:44
Republican logic.

Walt Sorg 30:46
Yeah, exactly.

Christine Barry 30:47
What does the crime I mean, obviously, the crime didn't depend on the deal, the transaction going through, but you can say, okay, he didn't get the money. Ultimately, he voted against the labor and with his caucus he still lied to the FBI and it was clear like as you said you had never seen anything even approaching this this kind of conduct when they receive those text messages they went to the police immediately it was clear to them that a line had been crossed

Walt Sorg 31:19
One of the labor lobbyist is a good friend of mine he's a former Marine and I just I can imagine his reaction when he got this text message he would have gone ballistic immediately because this is just the kind of crap that he looked at as a man You can't do this. This is just flat out wrong. And you know, yeah, we're always saying bad things about lobbyists. But you know, the most of the lobbyists I know are pretty ethical people and when they saw something like this, I can understand them going to the cops right away

Amy Kerr Hardin 31:46
from my personal experiences. Knowing Larry and men I I'm surprised that this that he did this, it just it seems so out of character for him.

Christine Barry 31:54
I'm surprised that the feds haven't gone after Steve Marino to get that document. If there was a document that had Larry Inman as going to vote against prevailing wage up until the last minute that coincided with the time he didn't get that money. That would be really strong evidence.

Walt Sorg 32:11
The only thing is wrong is hire Rudy Giuliani his attorney. Yeah. Meanwhile, down in Washington, we still have our fun there. The last month is certainly given a lot of added prominence to the House Intelligence Committee and Chairman Adam Schiff. Before democrats regain control of the House. That committee was chaired by Ukraine co conspirator Devin Nunez of California. Just about every vote on the committee seems to be a party line vote and has been since Nunez became the chair. But it wasn't always like that. Before Nunez took over the committee. It was chaired for four years by Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan. I've had a lot of rhetorical battles with Rogers over the years back when I was doing my radio show we would fight all the time, but I always gave him credit for keeping the worst of partisanship out of the national security debate.

These days. Mike Rogers is a commentator for CNN on national security. He also produces the CNN program declassified untold stories of American spies now in its third season. Congressman Rogers, welcome to the podcast. I think it's safe to say that since you left the Intelligence Committee, that committee has become a lot more partisan.

Mike Rogers 33:15
Yeah, unfortunately. And it's been, I think the last two Chairman, including the President, one combination of the both of those to turn it into a very sharp elbows partisan committee, and I just never believed that was the role of that committee. I had established a good relationship with my Democrat, Ranking Member, a guy named Dutch Ruppersberger from Maryland, great guy, former prosecutor. And we both sat down when I became chairman and he became ranking member and just agreed that national security was too important for petty partisanship and whatever we disagreed on. We were going to work it out, and I think that served the country. Well, I think it served the committee. Well, and I think I certainly think it served Congress's oversight constitutionally oversight responsibility. Well,

Walt Sorg 34:03
from your perspective, what is what does Adam shift on that he shouldn't have done? How does he handle it improperly?

Mike Rogers 34:09
I think he was partisan before he got there. The you know, and candidly, the republican before him, kind of started that partisan. There's conspiracy theories around every tree and every corner. And that kind of started, the committee started flying apart from any modicum of decency. And I think Adam Schiff, just picked up that baton and ran with it to run an impeachment inquiry. I don't care to what degree is just wholly inappropriate from the committee and he had very partisan comments before he did that. Remember, when he came out and said, when he was in the minority, he said, I've seen evidence of collusion and the President's guilty. I mean, it was just very partisan rhetoric coming off of a committee that I argue is no place for that there are other committees. There's other places to be partisan and Congress I just don't think the intelligence committees one of them.

Walt Sorg 35:02
When you were Chair of the Intelligence Committee, one of the most high profile things you did was an investigation into the whole Benghazi situation. You came out with a report that was critical of some things that happened. But basically was was pretty neutral. Did you catch a lot of static on that from your Republican colleagues?

Mike Rogers 35:19
Oh, absolutely. Yes. Sometimes To this day, people bring it up. My thing is this. I have as a former FBI agent, and as a member of Congress that had subpoena power, the power of the government is immense when it comes to your personal liberty or personal ability to live free from government intervention, and so I looked at it as you need to be exactly right. And if the government I don't care if you're an FBI agent or a member of Congress, I don't believe you should ever use those tools for partisan purposes. And so I wanted to play it fair. I wanted to understand the facts, I think the report was, was pretty good in the sense that it laid out the timeline, it laid out all the timing of it, I did it through all, what we would understand is traditional investigative tools for date stamping and Time Stamping of information that we had. And candidly, none of that changed even with the Benghazi full committee that happened after, you know, after my investigation, because unfortunately, people wanted to find something wrong. They didn't say that there. Were going to find out what happened. They're going to say we wanted to find something wrong. And when you do that, I think the truth is the one the first thing that gets sacrificed. And I worry a little bit about that now with the impeachment, hearing it they were hell bent to get it. And they're going to go and do things to find out the truth that they want to see not the truth that might be there. And that's what I worry about in the current state of affairs. In these congressional investigations, I don't think people have the truth in mind as much as they do about partisan advantage and I just think that's dangerous.

Walt Sorg 37:02
Okay, a couple of things that you mentioned really sparked something in me. First of all, you talked about the power of the legislature, the Congress to subpoena, which is pretty much being ignored by the executive branch now. And on the other side, you've got William Barr, who is looking at it seemingly pulled is trying to pull the size of the FBI, even to the point of disagreeing with the Inspector General and the report that's about to come out regarding the beginnings of the investigation into the Trump campaign.

Mike Rogers 37:30
Yeah, I I'm really going to be interested to see what he lays out as why he would disagree with the report. The only thing that I can think of from a that passes the smell test for me is if this Durham who is the other investigator looking at the premise of the Russia investigation, if he came out and found things that were contrary that the Inspector General did not find, that might to me pass muster. If it's just because I don't want to believe it, that's going to be very disappointing to me.

Walt Sorg 38:06
One thing in your resume that it's probably good that you fail. That was when you were interviewed to be the director of the FBI after Comey was fired. You didn't get the job seems to me like that was probably a pretty good career move.

Mike Rogers 38:18
My wife says, I dodged the bullet on that particular case. You know, this that was I would have taken that for several reasons. A, I think the country deserves to have an FBI that is independent, fully functioning, and focused on its work, not dipping its toe into the political ups and downs of Washington, DC. And so I thought I had something unusual happened there. Well, I'm not sure if you remember this. The agent Association, had never endorsed someone to take the job as director. They just stayed out of it. They did that because of my relationship and the work that I had done as an FBI agent. That was pretty significant to me. And it was a motivation to me to say, all right, if they have confidence, I can do this in this environment, then I would go ahead and put my name in, basically go in for the interview. You know, as it turned out, they went a different direction then. But I that's why people thought I was nuts just for considering it. And I'll tell you, I just I thought it was so important for the Bureau and for the country, and to have this world class, independent investigative organization, doing good work on behalf of America. I just thought that was too important. And I would felt I had the tools to help protect that and do good work for the country.

Walt Sorg 39:37
Another huge part of the distraction for the FBI has got to be this feud between the President and Lisa page, who's finally come out and gone public after two years of attacks from the president. How does that how does that impact the FBI long term? Is it something that it's going to be able to recover from quickly or is this long term damage?

Mike Rogers 39:56
Well, I think it depends if the if it's just as president goes away, I think it will be fine. And I, I just spoke at something called the G man honors Association, oh, maybe a few weeks ago where they honor the families of slain agents and try to take care of their community. And you know, they don't like it. But they also recognize that the behavior for the agents involved, although it does not rise to any personal attacks from the president, united states of mind, you was wholly inappropriate. And it was a black mark on the FBI. They all recognize that. And so I think if we can get through this personal attacking by the president united states, well, I just think is just not I just, it's shocking to me that he continues to do this. When he has been an elected president for three and a half years. I thought he would kind of outgrow that, but he did not unfortunately. So it's two things. They understand the realism that highlights what was very, very poor judgment on behalf of the people who are FBI associated with the FBI and agent and one of its attorneys. And the fact that the President has gone way over bounds by making it personal to the person involved. And I, again, I hope we get over this quickly. My advice to the director was the new director was put your head down, don't care about the politics, don't get engaged in it, don't come in on it. Focus on the Bureau and getting it right do the things the Bureau is supposed to do and getting it right. And I think he's done that run relatively well, and if they continue to do that, I think they will weather the storm because the work is more important than the squabble.

Walt Sorg 41:49
Let's talk a little bit about your day job. Now you're working with CNN both as a commentator on national security and also you're producing your own program on security. Is it liberating for you to Be able to basically say what you think and not have to worry about what the folks in Howell and how they're gonna react to it.

Mike Rogers 42:06
Yes, but you know, it's interesting. Well, I, in you know, sometimes when you're in the heat of the difference politically, you don't see this. I never really didn't say what I thought, which I think is why I want some friends in the democrat side of the aisle, not that they agreed with me. But at least I was straight about it. And I took a vote I come home and I try to explain why I did it. You still might not like it, but at least people appreciated that. And so it is more liberating, I guess, because I just can I just say exactly what I'm thinking and it may not be in the President's interest today. It might be tomorrow, but that's not my job anymore. My job is to try to provide good analysis of what I see happening in the kinds of things I think that are good and bad in the process that we see today. So it wasn't a huge switch for me, but it is a little bit more living you know the pants fit a little bit looser. If you Well, when you're when you don't have to worry about getting called into the carpet for something you may have on either at home in your district or or national TV.

Walt Sorg 43:10
That's a story I've heard from quite a few former elected officials is we sit back and have a couple of beers over the bar. They seem to be enjoying their lives a lot more now.

Mike Rogers 43:19
My wife says I smile a lot more. I don't know what that's about.

Walt Sorg 43:23
I would I would tend to believe it. Tell us a little bit about your program declassified untold stories of American spies, for those who haven't seen it. What is what is the objective of the program?

Mike Rogers 43:33
Well, one of the things I wanted to do if and if you recall, when I was chairman, there was lots of turmoil. There were some, you know, the intelligence community took a good beating there. And it certainly now with this president who has seems to have a high degree of mistrust of the intelligence community, which I think candidly is misplaced, but it just doesn't help the community, the community of intelligence to try to do really difficult work. So what I wanted to do and originally When I approached cnn with the idea, they were all in about saying, Yeah, this is be great. So the whole purpose is to take stories word which are declassified, by the way, we're not telling any secrets that haven't been declassified in any of these episodes, but we're packaging it in a way that you haven't seen and tells a fascinating story about, you know, the very first episode give me give an example was about the first woman, CIA officer or spy, we sent to Moscow in the 70s, and all of the ups and downs and she was handling one of our most important agents. And somebody turned in that agent and she got arrested. And the whole story about all of that, with her own words in this story, to me was a powerful way to say this is the hard work of intelligence. It's difficult. It's not what you think. It's not Jason Bourne, but it is dangerous. All of those things. And so over the course of this is our third season we just finished we tell all kinds kinds of great stories about international and espionage cases that really will have you sitting on the edge of your seat or they feel like it's a TV show. It's done in in kind of a documentary form. But it is really to highlight a the people that do this work and be just how difficult it is. And it always doesn't turn out exactly the way you want. But at least it gives on the American public view inside the kind of work and the commitment on the on the behalf of these people.

And by the way, well, you can get it at CNN go.com. If you go on CNN go, you can get all the past episodes and take a look. I think people would actually like if you like spies, and international intrigue, why this is the show for you

Walt Sorg 45:44
20 years ago, when we were both a lot younger, there's a lot more skepticism about spies and about the CIA and maybe the FBI as well. But it seems Now that is a very good credential for getting yourself elected to public office. The district you representative is now represented by a former CIA operative, you've got a half dozen or so in Congress now that form a mini caucus of security people. Is that the kind of change that makes you the bridge joy to your heart?

Mike Rogers 46:11
Well, listen, I liked I was a former military guy, I liked the fact that not everybody has to be in the military. And you don't have to be in the military to appreciate what they do and try to understand it. But you know, having a few around in the room does help. And so when these intelligence officials who have worked on the on the pointy end of the spear and get into elected office, I do think it helps the dialogue. It helps understanding so that when somebody stands up and says, you know, they're all liars and crooks and fill in the blank, somebody who's been there can say, let me tell you about the people who take the oath of the United States to do the work that they do and are willing to put themselves in harm's way. I just think that's a very good perspective. And I like lots of different kinds of perspective. In Congress, even the ones I disagree with candidly, I like hearing those stories because it can help shape what public policy and how we move forward. And so I'm glad that there's more interest in that those communities. I don't know if you remember, but a guy named Marcinkowski, who was a former CIA guy ran against me. I think it was 2006. You killed him district seat. So that was, well, it was good. But that's because the FBI versus CIA, you know who the good guys are? Oh, I'm kidding. I'm just joking. They're all good guys. But it was kind of a fun thing. We did the Spy vs. Spy kind of a race that year. But it was, it was pretty interesting. But I mean, there has been a kind of a renewed interest from people who are willing to come out and put their name on the ballot. And I think it's a good thing.

Walt Sorg 47:37
Mike, always good to catch up with you. Take care. Thank you very much.

Mike Rogers 47:40
Hey, well, thanks. And thanks for making me not the lamb at the slaughter. For for the for the for the liberal Bastion and friend that I have in Lansing, Michigan.

Walt Sorg 47:52
No, that was my old job.

Mike Rogers 47:55
I like your new job better, I think.

Christine Barry 47:59
All right. That's To this week. For more information on this week's topics, head over to our website, Michigan polycast.com.

Amy Kerr Hardin 48:06
We welcome your comments contact Michigan polycast on Facebook and Twitter, or email us at mipolicast@gmail.com

Walt Sorg 48:15
Our thanks to Senator Curtis retail Jr. and former Congressman Mike Rogers for joining us. And our thanks to Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff just because to wrap up this week, let's have some words of wisdom from a man of deep principle. South Carolina senator and Southern Gentleman, Lindsey Olin Graham.

Lindsey Graham 48:34
He doesn't have to say go live for me to be a crime. You don't have to say less obstruct justice for be for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases. I think that's what they meant by high crimes, then you have to be a crime. It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people. You committed a higher crime, because impeachment is not a About punishment. impeachment is about cleansing the office. impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.

Walt Sorg 49:13
We'll be back next week later Gator

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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