A congressional hearing yesterday that featured Elizabeth Warren, a financial consumer protection advocate, devolved into a spat between Warren and Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.).
Today, Warren's supporters are striking back at Henry, in part by hounding him online. They're also renewing their calls for President Obama to appoint Warren as chief of the newly-created consumer protection bureau.
During the debate over Democrats' Wall Street reform legislation, Warren played a key role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is tasked with writing and enforcing some of the new financial reform rules and acting as an investor advocate.
At yesterday's hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, McHenry agressively criticized Warren and suggested she effectively lied during a March appearance. The contentious meeting ended with McHenry and Warren bickering over how long Warren was scheduled to testify, with McHenry explicitly accusing Warren of being a liar.
"You are causing problems. We had an agreement for a later hearing," Warren told McHenry, as the video above shows. After some back-and-forth, McHenry said, "You're making this up Miss Warren." The comment prompted a look of shock from Warren.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) came to Warren's defense, telling McHenry, "I'm trying to be cordial here, but you just accused the lady of lying."
Earlier, McHenry accused Warren of lying to Congress during a hearing last March about her role in settlement talks between government officials and mortgage servicing companies, the New York Times reports. Warren denied that, saying she clearly said she provided advice to Treasury and Justice Department officials.
Warren's supporters have not taken McHenry's accusations sitting down. The congressman's Facebook page has been deluged with hundreds of comments criticizing McHenry for his remarks.
"Sir, you need to apologize to Ms. Warren, accusing her of lying was shameful and wrong, accusing her of lying with no evidence is even worse," wrote Racheal Paul in one example of one of the comments.
Meanwhile, liberals today are renewing their calls for Mr. Obama to nominate Warren to head the new financial bureau. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) sent an email to supporters of the liberal grassroots group Progressive Change Campaign Committee asking them to sign the PCCC's letter calling for a recess appointment for Elizabeth Warren.
"Since the president appointed Elizabeth Warren to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she has proven she can stand up to Wall Street," Franken said. "Now, it's time for a permanent leader to be appointed and, because Republican senators have vowed to block anyone, it's up to President Obama to use his power constitutional power to bypass Republicans and make a recess appointment."
Meanwhile, Democrats in Massachusetts are urging Warren to run for the Senate against Republican Scott Brown, the New York Times reported this week, though Warren's spokesperson says she is focused on building the new consumer agency.
Last fall, when the administration tapped Warren to create the agency, White House officialsthat Mr. Obama was unlikely to nominate Warren to lead the agency because of the fierce opposition she faced from Republicans and their supporters on Wall Street. According to a report last month, the White House has about the new position, only to have them turn down the job in deference to Warren.
The CFPB is supposed to start its operations -- and thus must have a director in place -- by July 21.