U.S. Representative John Yarmuth and five other members of Congress are publicly shaming Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC-10) and asking him to apologize to Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren after a contentious hearing on Tuesday.
McHenry is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs. Yarmuth is a member of that committee.
Warren has been tapped but not officially nominated to head the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republican senators vow to block any nominee until the Obama administration agrees to fundamental changes in its organization.
McHenry accused Warren of fabricating conversations between her staff and committee staff about the scheduling of the congressional hearing.
Warren recoiled at the accusation.
Yarmuth apologized to Warren "for the rude and disrespectful behavior of the chair," suggesting that McHenry’s accusation "indicates to me that this hearing is all about you, because people are afraid of you and your ability to communicate in very clear terms the threats to our consumers."
The letter signed by Yarmuth and five other Members of Congress is below.
The Honorable Patrick McHenry
Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services,
and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman McHenry:
During yesterday's Subcommittee hearing, you impugned the character of a dedicated
public official who is doing nothing more than trying to serve the interests of American
consumers—Professor Elizabeth Warren, the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury
charged with standing up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Your disrespectful
treatment of Professor Warren undermines the integrity of our Committee and offends the
standards of the House of Representatives.
During the hearing, you claimed that Professor Warren gave misleading testimony at a
previous hearing when she stated that she provided "advice" regarding governmental efforts to
hold mortgage servicing companies accountable for widespread abuses, including illegal
foreclosures against military servicemembers and their families, inflated fees, and frauds on the
court. In fact, during a press interview earlier in the day, you said that you "question the veracity
of her former testimony in relation to the reality that we now see." When asked by the
correspondent i f you thought she lied during her previous testimony, you replied, "Sure."
During yesterday's hearing, you also accused Professor Warren of lying about the
agreement she made with your staff about the hearing schedule and her departure time. Despite
multiple conversations with your staff to finalize the specific time, place, and duration of the
hearing, you claimed that she was "making this up."
Finally, instead of apologizing to Professor Warren after the hearing, you compounded
your offense by releasing a statement saying that you were "shocked" by Professor Warren's
"blatant sense of entitlement."
These are inappropriate and false accusations. It is unacceptable for any Member of
Congress, let alone the Chairman of a Subcommittee, to treat witnesses in this manner. Despite
potential disagreement on substantive issues, we always have an obligation to maintain the
decorum of Committee proceedings, to treat witnesses with respect, and not to defame them.
We ask today that you apologize to Professor Warren. We believe you should apologize
to the Members of the Subcommittee, as well, for denigrating the proceedings and potentially
compromising our ability to conduct our important work in the future.