New members of Congress spar over Trump’s treatment of the press


An incoming Democratic member of Congress said Sunday the incoming House majority should focus on oversight of the Trump administration to “save our democracy,” a remark that set off a debate and drew a rebuke from one of his Republican soon-to-be colleagues.

“I think that right now it’s important for this majority in the House to engage in some really critical oversight of an administration that is undermining a lot of critical freedoms for folks in our country. When I say save our democracy, I mean precisely that,” Democratic Rep.-elect Joe Neguse of Colorado said on “Face the Nation” Sunday alongside three other newly elected members. “I think some of our democratic freedoms and the principles that we live by have been under attack for the better part of the last two years.”

The prospect of House Democrats launching a slew of investigations into the administration has seemed to rankle Mr. Trump, who could find his legislative agenda stalled for the remainder of his presidency.

Republican Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw of Texas pushed back against Neguse’s criticism of the president.

“What is he undermining exactly? You know, what democratic freedoms have been undermined?” Crenshaw asked. “We just had an election where we switched power in the House. Democracy is at work. People are voting in record numbers.”

Neguse replied by referencing the White House’s conflict with CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, whose “hard pass” to the White House was revoked after a contentious exchange with the president in a news conference last week. CNN sued to have it restored, and the court sided with the network this week. Democratic Rep.-elect Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania said President Trump “is consistently disruptive in those very same press conferences,” in what she called “literally an attack on the press.”

Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye in Afghanistan, replied: “I’ve literally been attacked. So I, don’t — let’s choose our words carefully.”

Toward the end of the interview, Crenshaw elaborated on why he thinks members of Congress should be cautious in their criticisms.

“I want to caution us, because those are very bold words. If we have policy disagreements, let’s focus on those policy disagreements and I’ll be happy to discuss those at any point,” Crenshaw said. “But this is what I’ve been getting at kind of all week, which is we tend to go right at the jugular, right? We say, ‘You’re undermining democracy, you’re a bad person fundamentally.’ That’s not always true. We have policy disagreements on a lot of these things.”

As Neguse pressed his party to take different direction in Congress, he also said he will support Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House. Last week, his staff said he had not made a decision on his choice for speaker.

“There’s no other candidate that I’m aware of that’s running against Leader Pelosi,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “I intend to support her. You know I think that it’s important that we have steady leadership right now. And I found it pretty heartening over the course of the last week some of the developments around it becoming clear that this leadership team is going to work to try to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table.”

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