Rick Snyder, told repeatedly by members of Congress this morning to step down, responds by blaming “career bureaucrats”

Well, today was the big day. Rick Snyder was under oath, responding to questions posed by members of Congress as to his role in the Flint water disaster. I’ve yet to make it all the way through the C-Span video, but, so far I wouldn’t say that I’ve learned very much. The Republicans kept up their attack on the EPA, Snyder kept trying to shift the blame to “career bureaucrats”, and the Democrats did their best to lay everything at the feet of the Governor. So it was really just more of the same, even if the stakes were a little higher this time around.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe I thought that, under oath, one of our members of Congress might get Snyder to reveal some critical piece of evidence that would prove his culpability beyond a shadow of a doubt. That didn’t happen, though. And, really, it’s not what things like this are intended to accomplish. Hearings like this aren’t about finding answers so much as generating sound bites that’ll play well back home in the various Congressional districts represented by the men and women who serve on the Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Still, though, there were some moments worth noting, like the part where Snyder eventually conceded that “it would be a fair conclusion” to say Michigan’s Emergency Manager law failed the people of Flint… Oh, and then there was this heated exchange between Snyder and Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright, who hammered the Governor on what he knew and when.

For those of you unable to watch the above clip, here are the highlights… “There you are, dripping with guilt, drawing your paycheck, hiring lawyers at the expense of the people and doing your dead-level best to spread accountability to others and not being accountable,” Representative Cartwright said to Snyder. “Plausible deniability only works when it’s plausible, and you were not in a medically induced coma for a year… People who put dollars above the fundamental safety of the people do not belong in government. And you need to resign too, Governor Snyder… I’ve had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies. Pretty soon we’ll have men who strike their wives saying, ‘I’m sorry dear, but there were failures on all levels.'”

I could go on, but I’m rapidly losing the ability to type. If you want more, check out the coverage at Mother Jones.

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26 Comments

  1. Demetrius
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    The quotes Mark posts above are stunning.

    Watching the actual video, including Snyder smirking and mugging for the camera, is even more stunning.

    Thank goodness for Rep. Cartwright for putting him on the spot, and calling him out in such a pointed and public way.

    At this point, I just don’t see how Snyder can claim to have any legitimacy, or stay in office.

  2. John Galt
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    This man is a hero. When the rest of you were sitting on your hands doing nothing, he was creating jobs at Gateway. Yes, they were in China, but that’s not the point. The point is that he’s a JOB CREATOR and should therefore be exempt from this kind of scrutiny. This isn’t Soviet Rusdia.

  3. Taco Farts
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Can we also talk about what a disappointment it was on Tuesday for Marc Edwards, the “hero” scientist, to be sitting there, parroting Chaffetz’s ridiculous 100% blaming of the EPA? He must have been promised many years of “research” funding for the performance he gave that day.

  4. Posted March 18, 2016 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Just to be clear, I do think that the EPA is deserving of blame here. I just don’t think that they deserve all of it. Furthermore, as I’ve said before, I also believe that Congress has some responsibility here. After all, they cut the EPA budget and ignored the concerns of Marc Edwards the last two times he testified before them, telling them that something like this would happen.

  5. Peter Larson
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    There have been some interesting reactions to this important post.

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It amazes me when people with considerable experience in business and politics do not know how to compose themselves and answer questions simply and directly under inquiry. I’m certain that no one under Snyder would be allowed to respond in that way to critique. Snyder must be surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear. That’s the only explanation for how tone deaf he has been. For the most part these congressional inquiries are a dog and pony show though. HAs any congressional inquiry ever actually uncovered any wrong doing or even clarified circumstances that lead up to a failure in any new way since Watergate? Maybe Iran Contra– nope, not really.

  7. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    It was interesting that Cartright didn’t understand that mdeq does not “implement corrosion control”.

    In reference to husbands beating their wives: Delivering zingers will never bring out the truth when those zingers are built on fallacious reasoning.

    I don’t feel protective of Snyder at all but glimpses into the process, like this video of Cartright, are completely depressing.

  8. Eric Wozniak
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    His responses sounded quite rehearsed or canned; Cummings’ last statements were priceless though and I hope they affected Snyder, he looked unfazed the majority of the time

  9. Alex Hamlin
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    The testimony under oath in front of congress locks Snyder into his story that he didn’t know. Now when they prove he’s lying they can put him in jail for lying to congress under oath.

  10. Bil Lusa
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Snyder reacted to congress like he reacted to the actual Flint water problem: acted like it wasn’t happening right in front of him.

  11. Tracy Wells
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    He is also planning to cut $225 million from Medicaid in his 2017 budget. So, older folks, people with disabilities and the poor have that to look forward to. He’s despicable. You can’t run a state like a business. It just doesn’t work.

  12. Jim Pyke
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Cummings rolled deep in his opening remarks:

    We really need to figure out better governance than this for Michigan.
    https://youtu.be/DTPwYT-eddA

  13. anonymous
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    “You cannot be trusted. I gotta tell ya.. you need to resign.” – Rep. Cummings

  14. Lynne
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I for one LOVED that Cartwright clip. Yes, he was probably doing it to get points with people like me but I hardly think his comments were based on fallacious reasoning. Snyder *is* responsible and it is absolutely disgusting how he keeps trying not to take responsibility. Oh he pays lip service to it but have you ever noticed that he doesn’t blame the ideology that really is behind this. That is ok to cut services to poor black people while giving the money to your rich white friends in the form of tax cuts? I’ve certainly not heard him address how when he signed the law that overturned the voter referendum about EMFs, that made him responsible. I’ve not heard him mention EMFs at all.

    I was against the idea of him resigning because I thought he might be in the best position to help the people of Flint. He hasn’t done much though. Time to try someone else. I am actually kind of against recalls in general and feel that they should be reserved for the worst cases. I am talking Kwame kind of cases. This is one of those cases.

  15. Citywatch
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Not knowing and knowing but doing nothing at one level amount to the same thing….incompetent leadership and a “team” based on an ineffectual reporting model.
    Knowing and doing nothing is like murder however, and not knowing is like treason.

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    But ‘not knowing’ does not meet the stricter level of scrutiny required to charge government officials with neglect. Knowing and doing nothing does.
    Snyder’s narrative is protecting himself from civil suit. Truth has nothing to do with it. He’s not going to admit fault for the same reason– lawyers orders. Wish they spent as much time coaching him on how to respond respectfully to questions.

  17. Eric Wozniak
    Posted March 18, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I also don’t understand why it looks like Snyder looks to Jason Chaffetz when he’s at a loss for words or getting lambasted.

  18. Demetrius
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    I just realized I’m going to start adopting this excuse for everything:

    Slept over, and late for work? “Damn Career Bureaucrats!”

    Forgot to pay the electric bill? “Damn Career Bureaucrats!”

    Forgot to send a card for a friend’s birthday? “Damn Career Bureaucrats!”

    Made executive decisions that poisoned thousands of innocent citizens and left hundreds of children with life-long disabilities? “Damn Career Bureaucrats!”

    This is going to be SO helpful!

  19. Peter Larson
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    A set of responses mostly in line with one another.

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Who decided to not use corrosion control? According to an article I read mdeq claimed to be using corrosion control when asked but it turned out to be in true. Was mdeq lying about the use of corrosion control? Was it a misunderstanding? Either way there are varying degrees of guilt happening amongst multiple parties, I think.

  21. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Oops, untrue not “in true”

  22. Posted March 19, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    As I understand it, the MEDQ would not have been the party responsible for implementing corrosion control. That would have been the Flint Water Department. With that said, it would have been the job of both the MEDQ and the EPA to ensure that the Flint Water Department was complying with regulations. There was clearly a breakdown at multiple levels. And, as I’ve said, I don’t believe all of the blame resides with Snyder. I do think, however, state culture under Snyder has become one of telling higher-ups what they want to hear. The people further down the chain were told that Snyder and his emergency manager wanted to start using Flint River Water, and they were instructed to make it work. They did what they were told and, when asked by the people of Flint, they toed the line and said everything was fine. At least that’s how I see it. I think this was the result of a top down culture that didn’t welcome questions.

  23. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the feedback. I found the old article from metro times. I am sorry if it is old news to everyone but I thought the most interesting part of the article was the description of a) The epa telling Busch from mdeq that Flint needs corrosion controls in February and b) Busch, the next day,assuring the EPA that Flint has corrosion controls in place. It was not true….I haven’t heard anything more about it…

  24. Posted March 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    The woman who finally figured out that they were lying about corrosion control was Lee Anne Walters, who I’ve interviewed a few times on my radio program. Listen if you get a chance.

  25. CharlieRomeo
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Snyder is twitching and squirming because he is not telling the truth. His body language says all that needs to be said. The truth will not vindicate Snyder because he is not telling the truth.

  26. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    To be fair the truth wouldn’t vindicate Snyder regardless, because it would get him arrested and sued for all he is worth.

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