When Katie Hill met Donald Trump before the State of the Union address, she said he told her, “I’ve been watching you.”
Chances are, that’s going to continue, given Hill’s comments relating to Trump’s speech and her upcoming work in the House Oversight Committee, where she’s vice chair.
During her nine-minute conversation with the Gazette, Hill (D-Agua Dulce) opined about various aspects of the speech. She said she felt optimistic at its beginning, but it quickly devolved into the usual Trump rhetoric, so she was ultimately disappointed.
Trump spent time talking about the need for some sort of barrier, or wall, along the southern border. Hill expressed disdain for the word “wall,” pointing out that Trump sometimes used the word, but also “see-through steel barrier.”
However, despite the president’s choice of words, Hill said she is not opposed to funding for some type of barrier, wall, fence or whatever. She said she will wait to see what the security package will contain, but she expects it will be some kind of compromise in which both parties can claim victory.
Hill said she stood and applauded so many times during the speech that her feet hurt. Cameras caught her up when Trump said of China “that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.”
Similarly, she stood when Trump said, “Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim president, Juan Guaido.” And she stood when Trump declared, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
When Trump credited women for filling a majority of newly created jobs, Hill rose and joined her fellow clad-in-white congress members in cheering. When Trump pointed out more women were serving in Congress than ever before, she joined in with chants of “U.S.A! U.S.A!”
At times, she also was shocked at what she heard. When Trump said, “If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” she told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC that was when she pulled her notebook out of her purse and started writing things down.
“Wait, did he really just say that? The people who were sitting near me were, like, ‘Did he really just say that? That we can’t have investigations?’ ” Hill said. “It was so blatant. I guess it is par for the course. To me, that’s just scary.”
Hill made it clear that investigations are necessary, and as a member of the oversight and armed services committees, she welcomes them in the name of transparency.
“Frankly, it’s a national security crisis,” she said. “We need to be looking at this. We need to be asking the tough questions about where his foreign policy decisions are actually taking us, how does that factor into our place in the world and, frankly, what are his ties to these foreign entities and where that leaves us.”
Other points Hill made:
She explained how she became both a member of the presidential escort committee and oversight committee vice chair: She was selected by leadership to escort Trump, giving her a brief audience with the president, something her predecessor, Steve Knight, never got.
Similarly, committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) nominated Hill for vice chair, and no one challenged (Hill sat next to Cummings at the State of the Union address).
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was scheduled to testify before the oversight committee, but he backed out citing concerns for his and his family’s safety. Hill told MSNBC that Cummings wants Cohen to testify publicly, a sentiment she shares.
“Our job on the Oversight Committee is to find the truth and to share it with the American people, and we really need to do that,” she said. “That’s how we’re going to move the needle on really bringing all of this into the light and make sure that people understand the risks we are exposed to because of this president, and do ultimately what needs to be done.”
She explained why she endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for president last week, even though the entire Democratic field is not set. The day after she endorsed Harris, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) entered the race. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will announce her decision Sunday (she’s expected to run), and former candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden may yet enter.
Hill said she knows who is in or who will be in, and she backs Harris. To wait, she said, is to play politics and have people chase her for an endorsement. Better to get it out of the way now, she said.