That’s Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who represents a potential swing district in 2018 and is used to tough questions from reporters as the former chairman of the uber-political House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Issa denies this happened:
(cont.) On not answering @rachelmbade's question, I have nothing against her, there’s just limited time to talk when we’re rushing to vote!— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) May 16, 2017
We should pause to underscore that Capitol Hill is one of the last places in Washington where reporters can roam relatively freely — when lawmakers are moving from point A to point B, a credentialed reporter can just walk right up to them and ask questions.
We should also add that the reporter Issa allegedly flipped off, Politico’s Rachael Bade, is an absolute pro who has been stalking the halls of Congress for years. Other reporters have backed Bade:
Whether it happened or not, Issa wasn’t the only GOP lawmaker caught in an awkward situation while being asked to comment on the latest White House turmoil they can’t defend:
I ask Rob Bishop if he's concerned about Trump seeming to reveal classified info.— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) May 16, 2017
Bishop: "OK, what non-answer do you want me to give you?"
House Republicans are ducking right now. BIG time.— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) May 16, 2017
Earlier Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ended up apologizing to The Washington Post’s Ben Terris for a snappy answer he gave about whether there should be consequences for Trump sharing classified information with the Russians:
So … do you think should there be consequences, senator?“What consequences do you think that I have?” McCain snapped, clearly frustrated. “You tell me. You are asking me what the consequences could be when you aren’t even telling me what consequences there could be. I can’t answer your question. I can’t and no one else can. I’ve been around here a long time, my friend, and if someone asked me a rational question, I would be more than happy to try to answer it.”Later, he apologized. “I’m sorry if I’m short with you.”
By Tuesday evening, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) flat-out said what most Republicans on Capitol Hill are thinking: This isn’t fun. This is the opposite of fun.
“It’s been frustrating, no question,” he told reporters of the recent revelations. “We want this to be moving forward,” referring to the GOP agenda.
This also is not what Republicans had in mind when they campaigned for a Republican president. They hoped they would have a president who would, finally, help them enact tax reform, repeal Obamacare, pass a real budget, get tough on abortion and loosen gun laws.
Instead, they have a president who almost daily besieges them with scandals to respond to — or not respond to.
As Issa’s middle finger so fantastically illustrates, this week is a tough one in the Trump-Congress relationship. It marks the first time in Trump’s still-nascent administration that he has virtually no Republican supporters on Capitol Hill in his latest controversies. A sizable number of Republicans in Congress supported him on his travel bans and his decision to fire Comey (and not immediately fire Flynn). But on the latest revelations, they just can’t find a way to justify their president's actions.
And many lawmakers’ nerves are frayed just having to respond to this. The unanswered question is: When will the frustration of having a controversy-ridden, unpredictable president start to outweigh the benefits of him being a Republican?