Ari Melber, co-host of “The Cycle”, joined Martin Bashir on his show Thursday evening to denounce Darrell Issa’s unprecedented behavior and charges toward Obama and Eric Holder. Ari pointed out that Issa’s unfounded accusations have caused several journalists to begin digging into his checkered past. It’s not pretty.
People in glass houses…
Watch here via MSNBC:
Transcript via MSNBC with slight modifications:
MARTIN BASHIR: Many of us don’t know much about him. Darrell Issa. He’s worth $745 million. He made that fortune largely by running a car alarm company which is funny because he was once indicted to stealing a car as well as one other arrest for carrying a concealed weapon, all of which I guess makes him the paragon of virtue and the man who can grandstand and treat with ranked discourtesy the attorney general, is that right?
ARI MELBER: Congressman Issa has been throwing out a lot of charges but there is finally some scrutiny of his background, both before serving in Congress and running the oversight committee. Ryan Lizza and “The New Yorker” as we discussed went in and looked at his record, looked at the indictment on the stolen car, an arrest for concealed weapons. Looked at Congressman Issa’s defense, often saying his brother who’s had trouble with the law was the target of these investigations. Also a lot of serious allegations about arson in a factory he owned although he says it was an accidental fire. Even before coming —
MARTIN BASHIR: Just on that, sorry, before we move off, that warehouse and that fire seemed to coincide with him just before the fire raising his insurance policy from $100,000 to $400,000.
ARI MELBER: That’s right. He took out a significant increase in the insurance and there was also an accident report that “The New Yorker” discovered that talked about the fact that the nature of the fire didn’t match up with the kind of — kind of accidental arson — nonarson, I should say, accidental fire that could have occurred.
On the oversight committee, I’m so glad you showed some of those clips just now because people have to understand a lot of those exchanges including Congressman Issa telling Eric holder you’re not a good witness, answer the question, kind of berating that is unusual treatment for our top law enforcement officer occurred a year ago in the fast and furious investigation.
And that led to the first contempt citation ever of a sitting attorney general. So Martin, when people say, oh, there’s always skirmishes, both sides do it, no. As a matter of historical precedent, this is the first time we’ve had a chair, Congressman Issa, take the oversight committee and hold an Attorney General in criminal contempt for what I wrote at the time were flimsy charges.
Ari Melber is an attorney, so when he says the charges against Holder were “flimsy”, it means a bit more than a convicted criminal calling AG Eric Holder a “bad witness”.
The New Yorker article referenced is from 2011, but it’s coming to the forefront now as journalists and pundits search Issa’s name for clues as to who he is. Described as a “working class high school drop out”, Issa makes for a colorful character with various criminal charges peppered through his life. “Issa, it turned out, had, among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.”
Naturally, this is the man the Republicans vested with total power to investigate the Obama administration for any reason at any time. You don’t appoint someone with actual ethics to do your dirty work, because, well, that wouldn’t work. “Now that he had been given the power to subpoena, investigate, and harass the Obama Administration, Issa was being described as a future leader of his party—and the man most likely to weaken the President before the 2012 election…”
What’s Issa’s word worth? Not much, except as a warning that what you’re hearing may likely be inaccurate. For example, Issa claims he was always given “highest marks” by the Army and had provided “security” to then President Nixon, but a reporter dug into his past and found that Nixon had not even attended the events Issa’ claimed to have provided security for, and Issa was known as a car thief in the army (separate incident from his later more well known arrests for car theft).
Furthermore, “In May of 1998, Lance Williams, of the San Francisco Examiner, reported that Issa had not always received the “highest possible” ratings in the Army. In fact, at one point he “received unsatisfactory conduct and efficiency ratings and was transferred to a supply depot.” Williams also discovered that Issa didn’t provide security for Nixon at the 1971 World Series, because Nixon didn’t attend any of the games.”
Issa was soon after arrested for stealing a red Maserati, but the judge dropped those charges around the time that Issa was arrested in a separate incident for having a .25 Colt and “44 rounds of ammo and a tear gas gun and two rounds of ammo for it.” Just the kind of guy you want leading your party, especially when your party stands for vigilante justice via the NRA. Issa pleaded that case down to a lesser charge.
Just when things started to look up for Issa in the Army, he was arrested yet again for car theft, but this time he was also indicted for grand theft. The prosecution ended up dropping that case after smoke and mirrors coupled denial and some fancy Issa footwork. That didn’t stop Issa from committing hit and run soon after evading prosecution.
After that narrow escape from the law, Issa was suspected by officials of arson and accused of firing an employee by giving him a box with a gun in it. While investigating the arson charges, authorities realized that they could not trace the original capital Issa used to start his business. Shady dealings, but Issa once again managed to escape the law, but not their suspicion. All of this adds up to a great criminal resume for a henchman, and that is what Issa is for the GOP.
Darrell Issa may discover that he doesn’t like the sort of scrutiny his behavior is bringing upon himself. After all, while his charges against his “enemies” don’t hold water, his criminal past is largely a matter of public record, rather than the fictional hysteria of a bitter party that can’t win a national election any other way.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.