Just the Facts

Five Facts on Notable Congressional Hearings and Testimonies

By No Labels
July 24, 2019 | Blog

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller III testified for more than six hours Wednesday to the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in what undoubtedly will become another historic reference of controversial congressional political confrontations. Here are the facts of five other congressional hearings that captured the public’s attention.

In 2018 Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump. Before he was confirmed, Christine Blasey Ford came forward with allegations of sexual assault from when she was a teenager. The two testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27, 2018. 

Ford, a college professor, testified that she was 100% certain it was Judge Kavanaugh who attacked her at a house party when she was 15 years old. She gave a gripping account of the event while Judge Kavanaugh presented a defiant defense, emotionally refuting the allegations. He testified that he was innocent. Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48 on October 6, 2018[1].

 In 2017 President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey —fewer than two months after Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian interference efforts[2] in the 2016 presidential election. Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, 2017.

James Comey testified that President Trumpdirected that he stop investigating Trump’s campaign advisor and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Comey said he chose not to follow the president’s directions. He also testified that in a private meeting President Trump asked for assurances that Comey would be loyal to him[3]. He concluded that President Trump’s actions fell within the scope of the FBI’s investigation into collusion with Russia[4]. President Trumpdisputed Comey’s testimony, tweeting “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication … and WOW, Comey is a leaker[5]!”

In 2013, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified on the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans. She faced accusations from House Republicans of incompetence regarding her handling of the attack. She testified to the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees on Jan. 23, 2013. 

Hillary Clinton’s testimony provided little new information regarding the attack in Benghazi. She defended the administration’s actions in the aftermath of the attack. Clinton agreed to adopt recommendations provided by the Accountability Review Board of the State Department that addressed security faults and a lack of investigation into warnings the department received about a possible attack[6]. In 2016, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report that stated there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton[7]

In 1991, President George H. W. Bush nominated Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Anita Hill publicly accused him of sexual harassment when they worked at the Department of Education together. The two testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 11, 1991. 

Professor Hill testified that after she repeatedly declined requests to go out with Clarence Thomas socially, he graphically bragged about his own sexual prowess.[8]Judge Thomas vehemently denied the charges,[9]and was eventually confirmed 52-48. 

In 1972, five men with ties to Nixon were arrested for wiretapping and breaking into the DNC headquarters in the Watergate Complex in Washington, DC. Throughout the investigation, abuse of presidential power and deliberate obstruction of justice charges against the president emerged in what became known as the Watergate scandal. Witnesses began testifying to the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities on May 17, 1973. The hearings ran periodically until Aug. 15, 1973.

During the televised Senate hearings, White House counsel John Dean testified that chief Nixon advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman were aware that the Watergate break-in was approved by Attorney General John Mitchell. He also testified that President Nixon was aware of the operation and cover up. The hearings resulted in significant evidence that the Nixon re-election committee engaged in political espionage[10]. By the end of July 1974, after the release of the Watergate tapes and several indictments, the House Judiciary Committee adopted articles of impeachment. President Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974 in the face of almost certain impeachment[11]

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