House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has apparently been told by the Republican leadership to stop the personal attacks and tone down his criticism of the president and his senior staff, according to Politico
The publication reported Thursday that the Californian had been slapped on the wrist for calling White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a "paid liar," amid fears that the chairman's brash style could hamstring congressional investigations into the IRS scandal and other controversies and jeopardize Republican credibility with the public.
"He made this personal," one senior Republican told Politico, referring to Issa's comment on Carney during an appearance on CNN last Sunday. "He's added an unnecessary element to the news cycle."
"When you make Jay Carney the issue, that's the problem," another senior House GOP leadership aide told Politico. "No one cares about Jay Carney. That's a sideshow; it's not the real issue."
Appearing Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Issa was critical of Carney's explanation of the IRS' targeting of conservatives when the White House spokesman insisted the scandal was contained to the IRS office in Cincinnati which processed tax-exempt claims.
"The administration is still - their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind - he's (Carney) still making up things about what happens and calling this local rogue," Issa said on CNN's "State of the Union," as he pointed to a picture of Carney on the show’s set.
Democrats were harshly critical of Issa, saying that the personal insult called the impartiality of his investigation into question.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters that Issa's comment about Carney was "outrageous," "reckless," and that he owed Carney an apology.
"He ought to retract that statement unless he has specific evidence which I don't believe he does. I think it was a reckless statement and undermines his presentation as someone as a judicious leader of oversight," Hoyer said.
According to Politico, frustration with Issa was first raised last Monday in a meeting of House Republican leaders, but Issa insisted in an interview Wednesday that he has not heard any complaints.
Still, the chairman avoided using the word "liar" in the interview with Politico, even though he was unapologetic for his comments and continued to cast aspersions on the administration's truthfulness.
"What is said by the White House directly or indirectly — there are people who speak on behalf of the president in many ways — has often been an evolving truth," he told Politico.
"The original statement and the final truth have very little in common. Benghazi certainly would be a good example. The IRS scandal is certainly a good example."
He added, Politico noted, that "the White House has tried to vilify me rather than getting into the facts."
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