Dem congressman rails against Darrell Issa for cutting his mic after IRS hearing

The venerable Elijah Cummings accuses the California Republican of being "un-American"

Published March 5, 2014 5:40PM (EST)

Darrell Issa       (Jeff Malet,
Darrell Issa (Jeff Malet,

A hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ended with dramatic flair on Wednesday as Chairman Darrell Issa angrily gaveled the inquiry of former director of Tax-Exempt Organizations for the IRS Lois Lerner to a close after the ex-government official repeatedly pleaded the Fifth.

What really set off fireworks, however, was Issa's subsequent decision to cut off Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings' mic while the congressman was in the midst of criticizing Issa's behavior.

"Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this. You just cannot do this," Cummings said. "We're better than that as a country, we're better than that as a committee."

Issa reasserted that the hearing was adjourned, but told Cummings he was free to ask his question all the same.

As Cummings began stating his "procedural question," Issa appeared to be annoyed and interrupted, asking, "What is your question?" Cummings did not take Issa's implicit request for brevity with humor.

"No, let me say what I have to say; I've listened to you for the last 15, 20 minutes," Cummings responded.

Soon after Cummings continued, Issa said, "We're adjourned; close it down."

Cummings' mic was then turned off, though the Democrat kept speaking. After a brief moment when Cummings' microphone turned back on, Issa swiped his hand across his neck, indicating he wanted the Democrat's mic kept off.

Cummings was still speaking, though, and growing increasingly angry as Issa continued to collect his things and encourage others in the room to depart.

"I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America!" Cummings bellowed, his mic still off. "I am tired of this! You cannot just have a one-sided investigation! There is something absolutely wrong with that! It is absolutely un-American!"

You can watch Issa and Cummings go at it below:

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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