Award-winning Journalist Bob Woodward and DOJ’s Michael Horowitz Discuss Government Oversight, Accountability at AUWCL
Oct. 2, 2019
On Wednesday, Oct. 2, author and Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, along with Chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency Michael Horowitz, discussed the significance of federal oversight – including the importance of public transparency and investigations into impeachment – during the Program on Law and Government’s “Oversight & Accountability: Who Watches the Government?”
Watch the full event here.
The event was hosted in celebration of the launch of American University Washington College of Law’s newest student publication, oversightproject.org, which focuses on the work of federal oversight, accountability, and ethics watchdogs. The blog’s development is in conjunction with a Program on Law and Government seminar that explores and analyzes the work of the U.S. Inspector General, Office of Government Ethics, Office of Special Counsel, and other key groups within the oversight and accountability community.
Special guest speakers included Jason Chaffetz, former U.S. Representative (R-UT) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair, and American University President Sylvia M. Burwell, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“The magnitude is not there yet,” Woodward said, comparing investigations into the Trump administration to the Watergate scandal, which he called “an operation that was part of a massive sabotage and espionage campaign.”
“What’s going on with the impeachment investigation – President Trump and the Ukraine matter – is very serious. I think it’s going to be investigated. But is it so serious that it may end the Trump presidency? That is possible,” Woodward said. “But you have to put it into context, that the one time a president resigned, President Nixon, it was because of the build-up of what Watergate was. Watergate wasn’t just a burglary in the Democratic headquarters. It was a series of operations designed to destroy the process by which people are selected to run for president and then the process of selecting a president…You have a scale of criminality which we haven’t seen in the Trump case.”
Horowitz said the need and desire the public has to understand what their elected officials are doing continues to grow each day.
“More and more, the public needs independent voices that will speak factually to what is occurring in the government, and that is really what we do,” he said. “We’re there to keep eyes on government, and from our standpoint, be the people’s watchdog…We obviously have several high-profile matters happening. But when I think about the work we’ve done as a community on the federal level, hopefully a project like [the Oversight Project] highlights some of the work that doesn’t get on the front page of the Washington Post, but is never the less critically important to what goes on.”
AU President Burwell reflected on her experiences working with IGs and their dedication to autonomous work focused on finding truth.
“I served with the HHS IG. And a few years before, when I served in the Clinton Administration, I had the chance to work with the IG and staff in the Treasury Department and in OMB [the Office of Management and Budget],” Burwell said. “I remember those moments in OMB in particular, as I got to watch all of the IGs come together as they shared their insights and best practices. What I saw there was a group of public servants committed to good government – committed to being a strong, independent voice – the independent voice their role requires.”
Chaffetz applauded the AUWCL students involved in the creation of oversightproject.org, and said “the main challenge as you move this project along – it needs to be as objective as possible.”
“I’ve always believed that if we can give more exposure to the American public as to what is going on with their government, the better off we are going to be,” he said.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM ON LAW AND GOVERNMENT
AUWCL’s Program on Law and Government is celebrating a quarter century in our nation’s legislative and regulatory hub. The Program offers a broad array of curricular options, experiences, and events, from cutting edge courses taught by expert faculty, to our renowned Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, to symposia and panels featuring our talented alumni. Each opportunity is designed to prepare students for careers at the intersection of public service, law, and domestic policy. Click here for more information.