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Getting frustrations out

Grassley addresses public concerns with federal government during meeting

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley answers questions from the crowd during a townhall meeting Feb. 19 at Clarke County Courthouse.
OST photo by AMY HANSEN U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley answers questions from the crowd during a townhall meeting Feb. 19 at Clarke County Courthouse.

There appeared to be a definite anti-President Obama sentiment from the crowd during a town hall meeting with Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley Feb. 19 at Clarke County Courthouse.

Between 25 and 30 people were in attendance for the event, which was a question-and-answer session between the citizens and senator.


The first thing asked was the current status of the Benghazi attack, where four people were killed, including a U.S. ambassador, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Grassley said the latest news is the investigation is continuing, but there is a stonewalling by the president declaring executive privilege on about 70,000 pages of information.

He said the House of Representatives has contempt citations against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“They’re in court now getting a judge to go over these documents that the president says Congress shouldn’t have,” Grassley said. “Hopefully, we think we’ve got a good case so that they would say that we’re entitled to them in order to do our oversight.”

He said the Benghazi investigation was “kind of tied up” with the Chuck Hagel nomination for U.S. Secretary of Defense with the idea of getting information the White House wouldn’t previously give out.

Grassley said there have been claims that information has been found, but he doesn’t know what it shows or the details in that might come out in an email.

“We’ve had testimony from (the) secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense,” he said, “that pretty much corroborates that after five o’clock on September the 11th, after the president was briefed by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, that he never had any concern, or he was never involved in it after that point, at least through the night, and the murders went on, the killings went on through the evening.”

Grassley said the public did hear on television the following Sunday from the president’s chief of staff that the national security team was following it through the night.

“But, why if they, uh, if they knew that these people’s lives were in danger, why they wouldn’t inform the president, I don’t have an answer for that,” he said. “Or, why the president wouldn’t want to be informed about it.”

Impeaching Obama

Another question asked early in the meeting was about the supposed impeachment hearings for Obama.

Grassley said there are no impeachment hearings that he knows of, and if there were impeachment hearings, they would have to start in the House of Representatives.

It was mentioned the information was found on the website for The Obama Hustle.

“I don’t think you’ve got proper information on that because that would make the front page of the newspaper,” he said.

Overstepping powers

A man in the crowd asked at what point is the government going to decide Obama has overstepped his powers too many times.

“Touché,” said another man in the audience.

The man who had asked the original question continued to say Obama will be handing out numerous executive orders concerning the second amendment.

“It appears out here that no one wants to take the step forward and say, ‘President Obama, you have overstepped your bounds,’” the man said, “because, I think, the primary reason, Senator, is because no one wants to hear the race card played.”

The man also had a problem with the nomination of Democratic Sen. John Kerry for U.S. Secretary of State since there’s supposedly a videotape of Kerry throwing away his medals after the Vietnam War.

Grassley said he voted for John Kerry because he is competent in international affairs. However, he will vote against Hagel.

Southern border

A woman in the crowd had a question about when the government is going to close the southern border of the United States.

“When we get the fence completed, it’s only 652 miles right now,” Grassley said. “So, there’s got to be more fence built.”

The woman responded, “Who’s going to close that? The president says no, and we say yes.”

Another person asked if the fence will prevent people from tunneling underneath it to get into the U.S. illegally.

“Anybody that wants to did a hole will dig a hole,” Grassley said. “There’s nothing you can prevent it. You’ve got to find it and stop it.”

More frustration

The audience was also concerned with the nation’s $16 trillion debt.

This topic led to the crowd’s frustration with politicians not meeting every day or going into recess without getting the financial problem fixed.

The U.S. Senate meets Monday through Thursday, however, it used to be Monday through Friday.

The U.S. House of Representatives meets Tuesday through Thursday.

At one point during the meeting, Grassley even pulled out a calendar and said he comes back to Iowa for a week in February, two weeks at Easter, the first week of May, Memorial Day week, Fourth of July week, entire month of August and third week of October.

He added, politicians won’t be meeting during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“I don’t disagree with your principals except for one little point,” Grassley said. “I believe you’ve got to realize the importance of coming back and talking to people because Washington is an island surrounded by reality, and if I just went to Washington and didn’t come back to Iowa, government is the only business in Washington. It’s not the real world. You’ve got to get back here and see what the real world is.”

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