Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A Previous Trip to Washington

Our recent vacation in Washington, DC caused me to reminisce about a previous trip to Washington some eight years ago, especially in light of current events.

I worked for most of my career for the Farm Credit System, a creation of Congress. When I was CEO of Yankee Farm Credit, I went to Washington typically once a year with two members of the board of directors to visit with Members of Congress (or their staffers) from our territory – Vermont and parts of New Hampshire and New York.

We seldom did much sightseeing on these trips, but in 2011 we arrived in Washington early on the afternoon of July 27th with nothing scheduled until our Congressional visits the following day. We went to the Capitol Visitor Center (new in 2008). It was not busy, and we inquired at the information desk if either the House of Representatives or the Senate was in session that afternoon. Yes, they both were. We inquired if we could obtain tickets. Yes, which chamber did we want? We chose the Senate.

(The person at the information desk said: "You are supposed to obtain tickets from your representative or senator, but I just happen to have a few extras here.")

The Senate was mostly empty when we sat down in the gallery, but there was a senator speaking. Who was it? Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, whom we had an appointment to see the next day.

Senator Leahy was speaking in favor of a nomination that President Barack Obama had forwarded to the Senate. When he finished, the Senate proceeded to a roll call vote.

That was interesting. The Senate Chamber gradually filled as senators wandered in for the vote. It took a while, perhaps 20 minutes, as the presiding officer went through the list of senators again and again until all 100 senators had arrived and voted. No one sat down. The senators milled around visiting with each other, the men in black suits, the women in colored suits or dresses. It looked very congenial.

It was not a controversial nomination. The vote was 100 to 0.

Who was the nomination for? Robert S. Mueller III as director of the FBI. Mr. Mueller was already director of the FBI, having been nominated by President George W. Bush in July 2001 for a ten year term. President Obama had nominated Mr. Mueller for an additional two years.

When we met with Senator Leahy in his office the next day, we told him that we had seen him in action on the Senate floor the previous afternoon. He seemed pleased.

The Congressional Record for the Senate on July 27, 2011 details what we witnessed (PDF, 12 pages). The nomination of Mr. Mueller begins on page 1. Senator Leahy's closing remarks that we heard start on page 11 and the roll call vote is on page 12.

Mr. Mueller is scheduled to testify before two committees of the House of Representatives later this month about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. News reports here (NYT) and here (WSJ).

There is no "scoop" in this post, nothing that will help you evaluate Mr. Mueller's report or testimony. There is no "philosophy" in this post, which is why it is here on my Switchel Traveler blog instead of on my Switchel Philosopher blog. It was just fun to reminisce.

The photo at the top of this post is Senator Leahy with Nancy and me on Mount Mansfield near the top of the gondola on October 3, 2015. Background here.

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