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Cummings Issues Statement on Republican Decision to Withhold Planned Parenthood Videos from Democrats

Oct 14, 2015
Press Release

Cummings Issues Statement on Republican Decision to Withhold  Planned Parenthood Videos from Democrats

 

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 14, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement in response to the decision by Republican Committee staff to withhold from Democratic Committee Members their own copies of videos produced by David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress:

“Last week, our IT staffers on the Committee—both Republican and Democratic—were finally allowed to examine the external hard drives produced by Mr. Daleiden.  Unfortunately, they believe the videos he provided are copies rather than the original source media, so they could not determine whether they have been edited or if potentially exculpatory footage has been deleted or withheld.  The Republicans have declined multiple requests by Democrats for their own copy of the hard drives so they can have it examined forensically, insisting instead that Democrats go to a ‘viewing room’ in the Republican offices.  This action contradicts the Chairman’s own subpoena, which required copies to be delivered to both Democrats and Republicans.  While we are certainly sensitive to privacy concerns, there is no authority to violate the terms of the subpoena in this way, and it furthers the impression that the Committee is trying to cover for Mr. Daleiden rather than hold him to account for his potentially illegal activities.”

On September 15, 2015, Chairman Chaffetz issued a subpoena compelling Mr. Daleiden to produce his videos to both sides of the Committee.  Specifically, paragraph 18 of the subpoena’s schedule instructions required:  “Two sets of documents shall be delivered, one set to the Majority Staff and one set to the Minority Staff.”

Prior to the Committee’s hearing with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards on September 29, 2015, a letter was provided to the Committee from a former FBI forensic audio examiner who has conducted examinations of more than 3,250 audio and video recordings in more than 900 criminal, civil, and administrative matters.  He wrote:  “If the alleged original recordings were made directly to removable digital media (e.g., memory cards) and not stored on the internal memory of the alleged recording device(s), then all of the actual removable digital media which contain alleged original recordings must be provided for analysis.”

During the hearing, Republican Committee Members appeared to agree that the Committee needs the original source media rather than copies.  For example, Rep. Walberg had this exchange with Ms. Richards:

Mr. Walberg:  I just want that stated for the record, Mr. Chairman, as we have a lot of controversy about the videos.  And yet, the eyes show it, but ears even more so hear what was said.  Let me go—

Ms. Richards:  Could I address that?

Mr. Walberg:  Very quickly.

Ms. Richards:  Yes, I understand that.

Mr. Walberg:  Because I want to go on to more crucial issues.

Ms. Richards:  Well, I do think it’s important that we at Planned Parenthood asked, I think even perhaps prior to this committee, that all of the original source footage be released, and that’s actually—that has still not happened.  Because, again, we want to know—we want all of it out there.

Mr. Walberg:  Well, we want to know too, and I think that would be an opportunity.

Ms. Richards:  So I think we can agree on that. 

By refusing to allow Democrats to have their own copy of the footage provided by Mr. Daleiden, Republicans are preventing Democrats from consulting with forensic experts about the integrity of the video recordings.  Republicans have cited no authority for this unprecedented action, and they have taken no vote to treat the footage as if it were received in executive session.

For this reason, Rep. Louise Slaughter, the Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, sent a letter to Chairman Chaffetz on Tuesday “to demand that the Committee immediately provide original duplicate copies of these hard drives to the Minority Staff of the Committee in accordance with the subpoena you issued.”

It also remains unclear why the Oversight Committee is continuing its investigation after House Republicans established a new “select panel” to take over this investigation.

As Rep. Marsha Blackburn stated when the new select panel was being established:  “The intent is to bring all of the work ... under one panel.  The thought is that this will be a more expedient way to handle this, a more efficient way, and allow us to determine if there was any law broken and if there is any need for further investigation.”

Moreover, during an appearance on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, on September 30, 2015, Chairman Chaffetz admitted that he has identified no evidence that Planned Parenthood has violated any laws: 

Blitzer:      “Is there any evidence in your opinion that Planned Parenthood has broken any law?”

Chaffetz:   “No, I’m not suggesting that they broke the law.” 

During a subsequent House Judiciary Committee hearing, the Chairman was even more emphatic, stating:  “Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend?  Yes. Was there any wrongdoing?  I didn’t find any.”  

114th Congress