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Washington, D.C.—The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) honored Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) with its “Taxpayers’ Friend Award” for his strong voting record on supporting lower taxes, limited government, and economic freedom.

“My top priority in Congress will always be ensuring that taxpayers dollars are spent responsibility and effectively,” said Congressman Sensenbrenner“I’m proud to have received this award this year, as well as each year that it has existed, and will continue to fight government waste, fraud, and misuse of taxpayer dollars for the remainder of my career.”

“During his time in Congress, Rep. Sensenbrenner compiled one of the most principled, pro-taxpayer voting records in our nation’s history,” said Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President of the National Taxpayers Union.

Sensenbrenner is the only member to have received this award every year since NTU began its ranking. He has a straight-A record in ratings by the organization since 1992.

You can view NTU’s full 2018 congressional scorecard here

You can view NTU’s Taxpayer Score methodology here

You can view NTU’s press release regarding Congressman Sensenbrenner’s retirement here

By: Liliana Donato of the Daily Watch Reports

The pioneers of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said late on Tuesday that they had started getting information from Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Amazon and Apple as a major aspect of their test into the organizations’ potential ruptures of antitrust law. The test is one of a few at the government, state and congressional level planned for deciding whether the organizations utilize their significant clout in the online market wrongfully to damage opponents or generally overstep rivalry law. “We have gotten starting entries from Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook as a component of our examination. While we don’t yet have the majority of the data we mentioned, we expect that every one of the four organizations will give the data quite promptly,” the board of trustees’ pioneers said in a joint articulation.

“We anticipate their proceeded with consistence with the board of trustees’ examination,” they said in the announcement. The announcement was from Representatives Jerrold Nadler, administrator of the Judiciary Committee; Doug Collins, the top Republican on the board of trustees; David Cicilline, seat of the antitrust subcommittee and Jim Sensenbrenner, the top Republican on the antitrust subcommittee. “We will hold extra hearings, exchanges and roundtables as our examination proceeds,” the announcement said. Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Google (GOOGL.O) declined to state anything, while Inc (AMZN.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) didn’t promptly react to a solicitation for input.

By: Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WASHINGTON - Wisconsin’s seven U.S. House members joined a lopsided bipartisan majority Wednesday in decrying President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, condemning that decision as beneficial to America’s adversaries.

The resolution passed the House by 354-60, with the support of every Democrat voting and more than two-thirds of Republicans.

Those voting for the measure included Wisconsin’s four House Republicans: Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher and Bryan Steil.  All three House Democrats from Wisconsin also voted yes: Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan.    (One of Wisconsin’s eight House seats is vacant due to the resignation of Sean Duffy of the 7th District). 

The vote was a rare two-party rebuke of the president and was preceded by widespread expressions of dismay within Trump's own party over the decision to withdraw troops, seen by critics as opening the door for Turkey to move militarily against the Kurds — a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State — and potentially helping the Islamic State to reorganize itself and gain new strength.  

In an interview Wednesday after the vote, Sensenbrenner said the president's troop withdrawal has created in the short term a vacuum in the region that Russia is filling. 

"And the long-term consequence I think is people will wonder what the word of the United States is worth, because we've been backing the Kurds for a very, very long time and all of a sudden that backing was pulled out almost without notice.  And as a result, a group of people that has been essentially fighting on our side in all of the messes in the Middle East ends up getting a stab in the back," said Sensenbrenner, a member of the House foreign affairs committee.  

Republicans Gallagher and Steil have both signed on to a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey in response to Turkey's offensive against the Kurds. 

Some of  Trump's strongest GOP allies in Congress, such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, were pointed in their criticism this week of the president's policy. GOP congressional leaders also registered their disapproval. 

Adding to the backlash on Capitol Hill was the president’s news conference Wednesday where he said the conflict between the Turks and the Kurds has “nothing to do with us,” and said of the Kurds, “they’re not angels.” 

By: Andrew Blake of the Washington Times

Silicon Valley titans at the center of a congressional antitrust probe have begun responding to inquiries from Capitol Hill, lawmakers leading the investigation said.

Google’s parent company Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have each replied to requests for information made by the House Judiciary Committee, its top Democrat and Republican said in a joint statement Tuesday.

“While we do not yet have all of the information we requested, we expect that all four companies will provide the information in short order,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, and ranking member Doug Collins, Georgia Republican.

“The committee will review all of the information received from the companies in order to help inform next steps,” the lawmakers added. “We will hold additional hearings, discussions and roundtables as our investigation continues.”

The statement was cosigned by David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican, the chair and ranking member of the panel’s subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, respectively.

Each of the tech giants was contacted last month by the House Judiciary Committee and asked to provide a range of material related to antitrust matters, including emails and other internal data.

“We look forward to their continued compliance with the committee’s investigation,” said the statement.

None of the companies immediately returned messages requesting comment.

By: Emily Birnbaum of the Hill

House lawmakers tasked with investigating the country's largest tech companies on Tuesday said they have received an initial round of documents from Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google's parent company Alphabet to aid their probe.

The announcement came on Oct. 15, the deadline lawmakers had set to receive the slew of documents they requested from the companies last month.

"We have received initial submissions from Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook as part of our investigation," the lawmakers – including the top Democrat and Republican on the House Judiciary Committee – said in the statement.

The statement came from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) as well as the leaders of the panel's antitrust subcommittee, Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

"The committee will review all of the information received from the companies in order to help inform next steps," they said. "We will hold additional hearings, discussions and roundtables as our investigation continues."

The House Judiciary Committee also requested documents from more than 80 other companies as part of its probe into the digital marketplace, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill. The committee has also asked for those documents by this week.

Over the summer, the Judiciary Committee – which has jurisdiction over antitrust issues – announced a formal investigation into the power of Big Tech. The probe is focusing on whether the dominant technology firms unfairly wield their power to quash competitors and take advantage of users, who offer up reams of personal information in exchange for free services.

The committee has held several hearings about the issue over the past few months, hauling in representatives from companies including Facebook, Google and Apple. The companies have all denied that they function as monopolies or take advantage of their powerful market position in areas including social media and digital advertising.

In September, the leaders of the antitrust probe sent letters to Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon requesting an enormous tranche of internal communications and records regarding the use of their market dominance.

The panel requested communications among each company’s executives, records that were handed over in past antitrust investigation and internal documents detailing their organizational structures.

As of Tuesday, the companies had only begun to offer some of the documents that the committee has requested.

Democrats have left open the possibility that they would subpoena the companies if they do not answer the committee's requests in a timely or forthcoming manner, though Republicans on the panel have balked at the possibility.

Last month, after a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Nadler's personal office, Cicilline – the head of the antitrust subcommittee and leader of the investigation – told reporters that the tech executive has agreed to cooperate with the probe.

"I look forward to his cooperation," Cicilline said in September, noting the investigation will include "document requests, requests for information, participation in a number of different ways."

By: Diane Bartz of Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leaders of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said late on Tuesday that they had begun receiving data from Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Amazon and Apple as part of their probe into the companies’ potential breaches of antitrust law.

The probe is one of several at the federal, state and congressional level aimed at determining if the companies use their considerable clout in the online market illegally to hurt rivals or otherwise break competition law.

“We have received initial submissions from Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook as part of our investigation. While we do not yet have all of the information we requested, we expect that all four companies will provide the information in short order,” the committee’s leaders said in a joint statement.

“We look forward to their continued compliance with the committee’s investigation,” they said in the statement.

The statement was from Representatives Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee; David Cicilline, chair of the antitrust subcommittee and Jim Sensenbrenner, the top Republican on the antitrust subcommittee.

“We will hold additional hearings, discussions and roundtables as our investigation continues,” the statement said.

Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Google (GOOGL.O) declined to comment, while Inc (AMZN.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

By: Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some have regrets. A few can’t talk about it. Others would do it all again.

But the Republicans who carried out President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 are unanimous in urging caution and restraint as Congress embarks on yet another impeachment struggle, this time over accusations that President Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son.

The impeachment veterans of two decades ago were thrust into a seismic political event that was sober and circus-like at the same time.

So began a new, angry chapter of American politics that strained Washington institutions that were stronger then than now.

Clinton was impeached for lying to a grand jury about his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky but was acquitted by the Senate.

Today, those Clinton impeachment Republicans are urging a pause in the tribalism of the Trump era.

“You’ve got a race to judgment, people apparently have already made up their minds, and I don’t think there’s a lot of openness about this. And I think there should be,” said former Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., one of 14 House impeachment managers who presented the case against Clinton to the Senate.

“People ought to wait before they make judgment on whether or not there’s even an impeachable offense out here to be considered until all the facts are on the table,” he added. “That’s not been the case for a number of congressmen on both sides of the aisle that I can see.”

The managers during Clinton’s impeachment were all solidly conservative white men. Most are out of politics. A few are judges. Some do some lobbying, while others have simply retired. The chairman, Henry Hyde of Illinois, died in 2007.

The best-known is Lindsey Graham, a former Air Force prosecutor who was among those most aggressively gunning for Clinton. In 1999, speaking from the well of the Senate, the South Carolina congressman made the case: “Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

Now a senator, Graham seems to be part of the defense rather than the prosecution

“I have zero problems with this phone call” with Zelenskiy, Graham said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

The most senior of two Clinton prosecutor remaining in the House is Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a 41-year veteran of Congress who is retiring at the end of next year. He insists charges that Trump abused his office are nowhere near being proven and reminded that even the GOP-controlled House didn’t approve an abuse of office charge against Clinton.

Clinton impeachment manager Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, wasn’t eager to take a walk down memory lane when encountered in the Capitol last week, though he predicted any possible impeachment would wind up in a Senate acquittal.

In 1998, independent counsel Ken Starr offered up two vanloads of testimony and evidence, effectively dropping the full case for impeachment in Congress’ lap.

“I think that Starr’s report, which said that the president may have committed impeachable offenses, obligated the Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry to see if that was the case,” Sensenbrenner said in an interview. Congress had removed judges in comparable perjury cases, he said.

History is calling again, this time with accusations that Trump abused his power to help his political fortunes.

Sensenbrenner in July aggressively questioned special counsel Robert Mueller, whose report didn’t find criminal wrongdoing by the president in Russia’s 2016 election interference but spelled out 10 instances in which Trump may have obstructed the probe. Mueller didn’t indict Trump, citing Justice Department guidelines against charging a sitting president. Nor did he say whether impeachment could be a remedy.

“You didn’t use the words ‘impeachable conduct’ like Starr did,” Sensenbrenner told Mueller. “Even the president is innocent until proven guilty.” Mueller said his mandate didn’t include offering opinions on other remedies like impeachment.

McCollum, who left Congress to lose a 2000 Senate campaign but staged a political comeback as Florida’s attorney general, cautions that lots of facts, testimony and evidence have yet to surface. The investigation into Trump’s festering scandal is in its opening stages.

“There are really a lot more questions than there are answers,” McCollum said, adding that so far he sees “just a really weak case.”

Democrats say they already have their “smoking gun,” having obtained a rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy, and they accuse Republicans of downplaying a clear-cut abuse of presidential power.

Former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat who served in the House from 1965 to 1999 during both the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon and the impeachment of Clinton, has said he’d vote to indict and convict Trump if he were in Congress. Hamilton said he’s “deeply concerned” that more Republicans have not publicly favored impeachment proceedings against Trump or even spoken out against his actions with Russia and Ukraine.

Trump’s call was “certainly egregious conduct” because it was for personal gain, Hamilton said.

“If his conduct is acceptable, then we have lowered the bar on what the office and public trust really means,” Hamilton said. “If we legitimize the kind of behavior that he has exhibited, then our political system is going to be greatly reduced.”

Aside from Graham and Sensenbrenner, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison is the only one of the 1998 impeachment managers remaining in political office. Hutchison was reelected by a landslide last year.

“The facts have to be developed,” Hutchinson told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Saturday, in little-noticed remarks that amount to apostasy in today’s GOP. “The allegations raised should be taken seriously.”

Three of the other former managers are now on the bench. Former Rep. Ed Bryant, R-Tenn., is a federal district court judge, while Charles Canady, R-Fla., and James Rogan, R-Calif., serve on state courts.

Rogan cheerfully responded to an email seeking an interview but said he couldn’t comment.

“I would like to help you, but I fear I am rather hamstrung by our Canons of ethics,” Rogan said. “Not only am I precluded from discussing anything related to the current situation, I am precluded from saying anything that might be interpreted that way (such as giving advice).”

Then there’s former Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina who wasn’t an impeachment manager but forced a Judiciary Committee discussion on easily the most vulgar accusation levied against Clinton for his conduct. He seemed almost sheepish when encountered in the Capitol recently.

“We made a mistake” impeaching Clinton, Inglis said, adding that the substance of the matter “wasn’t so very consequential.”

“I can say that now, in retrospect — I didn’t think that at the time — but I think that was because I was probably sort of blinded by my dislike of President Clinton, you know, and wanting to stop him,” Inglis said. “So there may be some similarities there in this scenario.”

“If somebody’s the president of the United States and they do something that’s bad enough, then even their own followers are generally going to turn on them,” McCollum said. “And that’s not happened yet. It happened with Nixon. That did not happen with Clinton and that does not appear to me to be likely to be happening with Trump _ at least on the facts that are out there right now.”

By: Kerry Picket of the Washington Examiner

The three members of Congress still in office who were among the 13 House managers during the Clinton impeachment said they plan to use their experience to protect the president.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who gave the opening statement on the House floor in 1998 during the hearing and is retiring after serving 20 terms, told Fox 6, “I’m going to use that institutional memory basically to say they’re wasting the taxpayers' time. There’s no way the Senate is going to kick Donald Trump out of office.”

“If they are dumb enough to start going down the road of impeachment, I will be very active in dealing with that issue,” the Wisconsin Republican said.

Rep. Steve Chabot, who has sat on the House Judiciary Committee for 23 years, released a blog post nearly two weeks ago arguing the Democrats were not following appropriate procedures of the House to move forward on impeachment of the president.

"The Democrats on the committee decided to pass a resolution, laying out the procedures that would be followed for an impeachment investigation. But wait a minute. This is not the way it’s supposed to be done," the Ohio Republican said, referring to a House Judiciary Committee hearing this month.

"The Dems have decided to throw out 200 years of precedent on impeachment. The first step is supposed to be for the House of Representatives to authorize the Judiciary Committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry. But they don’t have the votes. So they didn’t do it. They just went straight to the committee and told them to look busy on impeachment, by passing stuff that sounds like impeachment, but really isn’t," he wrote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested House Republicans focus on the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry itself, saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not have the power to launch an impeachment inquiry without a full House vote.

"One month before the 1998 election, we had a vote in the House of Representatives where 31 Democrats voted with all the Republicans to open an inquiry into the impeachment of President Clinton. He was eventually denied a law license for five years and fined by the court because of his conduct. But the one thing I do believe America deserves is for every member of the House to agree to vote on whether or not they agree there should be an inquiry of impeachment based on this transcript," the South Carolina Republican said in a Fox News interview.

"I don't think she has the power to say we're opening an impeachment inquiry by herself," he said. "I think every member of the House should do what we did in 1998: Vote."

By: Calvin Freiburger of Life Site

September 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, appeared on EWTN’s World Over with Raymond Arroyo on Thursday to discuss House Democrats’ latest calls to impeach Donald Trump, arguing the president’s opponents were abusing procedure to keep the White House from mounting a proper defense against a false scandal.

For the past week, the political news cycle has been dominated by claims that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help investigate allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden, the current frontrunner to run against Trump in 2020, pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor that had been investigating his son Hunter’s business dealings in the country.

Biden openly bragged on video last year about successfully threatening to cancel a billion-dollar loan guarantee if the prosecutor in question, Viktor Shokin, was not fired. Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine's former Foreign Minister, says Shokin was fired as part of a crackdown on “prosecutor offices which were systemically corrupt” (a defense disputed by documents from the legal team defending Hunter Biden’s company, according to reporter John Solomon).

On Wednesday, the White House released a rough transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky. It shows Zelensky referencing U.S. defense support for Ukraine, to which Trump says, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” and asks for assistance investigating Crowdstrike, the cybersecurity contractor the Democrat National Committee contracted to investigate its hacked emails in 2016 (National Review’s David French, a stridently anti-Trump attorney, concedes this portion of the conversation is “entirely proper”). 

Zelensky then requests that Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and now one of Trump’s personal attorneys, travel to Ukraine and meet with him. Trump responds by praising Giuliani, then adds, “the other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”

Trump’s defenders argue it’s legitimate for world leaders to request assistance in rooting out a previous administration’s potential corruption; his opponents claim it was at the very least inappropriate given Trump and Biden’s political rivalry, and a serious abuse of power if Trump made congressionally-authorized foreign aid a condition of compliance.

The U.S. did place a temporary hold on the aid, but the Ukrainians didn’t know that until a month after the phone call, didn’t perceive Trump’s request as threatening the aid, and reportedly attributed the delay to legitimate U.S. concerns about the proposed sale of a Ukrainian missile/jet engine factory to China.

Sensenbrenner told EWTN’s Arroyo that the controversy was “just another hit job on a president that (Democrats) have done nothing but hate since the moment the election results were announced in November of 2016.”

“All of us have asked friends or acquaintances to do them a favor,” he said. There's not a quid pro quo involved in that, it's just saying ‘please look into this.’ Now what happened is that Biden was in the Ukraine asking that the prosecutor that was investigating (his) son’s company for corruption be fired. Now if this was done in the United States, that's a clear case of obstruction of justice, but I guess because it was done in the Ukraine it's not.”

Sensenbrenner also accused Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, of having “completely ignored the procedural safeguards that we used in the Clinton impeachment 20 years ago” by holding hearings in which Trump “has not been able to have witnesses come” and “present a defense.”

As for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Sensenbrenner said “she’s refused to put on the floor a motion to have a formal impeachment inquiry, which Republicans did against Clinton 20 years ago and which Democrats did against Nixon in 1974. Once again, the Speaker's mouth has gone into third gear before her mind started up.”

On Thursday, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, excoriated “Democrats, their media mouthpieces, and a cabal of leakers” for “ginning up a fake story, with no regard to the monumental damage they’re causing to our public institutions and to trust in government.” 

He also noted that the original complaint that ignited the scandal largely consisted of things the whistleblower claimed to have heard secondhand, and that multiple elected Democrats and Democrat National Committee officials had themselves asked the Ukrainian government for politically-damaging information about Trump.

The Daily Wire noted that some left-wing activists are trying to make an issue out of Trump’s comment that Vice President Mike Pence “had a couple of conversations also” with Ukrainian officials, even attempting to get the hashtag #PresidentPelosi trending based on the theoretical scenario of impeaching both Trump and Pence, in which case the Speaker of the House would be next in the presidential line of succession.

By: Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WAUWATOSA - Jim Sensenbrenner represents a very Republican seat in Congress.  

But when he held a town hall meeting in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa earlier this month, he was visiting the most “anti-Trump” community in his district.  

The result was a snapshot of our polarized times amid an exploding uproar over the presidency. The senior lawmaker in his final term met with a mix of pats on the back for his decades of service, respectful pushback on his politics, and exasperated epithets for his support of Donald Trump.  

One Democrat in the audience complained that Trump “sees himself as above the law.”

“When will you be ready to say you’ve seen enough, and he has to go?” asked Chris Rockwood, who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Sensenbrenner in 2014.  

“I’m not ready to say that. I support him in the 2020 election,” said the 76-year-old Republican, adding moments later:

“I like to spend my time on things that can … accomplish something. … Now Donald Trump has a 94% approval rating among Republicans. What you’re suggesting I do is waste my time (opposing Trump) so you can quote me in a general election campaign,” Sensenbrenner said. “I am not going to do that, Chris.”

That exchange in Wauwatosa took place a few days before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry, records of a phone call confirmed that Trump asked the leader of Ukraine to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden, and the government released the whistleblower complaint that triggered the Ukraine controversy that has consumed Washington.

Sensenbrenner has defended the president since then, as he did at his Sept. 21 Wauwatosa town hall, where he argued that Trump didn’t offer a “quid pro quo” to Ukraine for the information he wanted and therefore “did nothing wrong.”

Two listeners disliked his answers on Ukraine so much they walked out. One muttered “bulls***t” as she left. A man who hadn’t been called on interrupted Sensenbrenner — a huge no-no for the procedurally strict congressman — and yelled, “You’re not answering (the) question!”    

Sensenbrenner, who precedes every town hall by reciting lengthy rules of decorum, said: “You heard what the rules are. Now either sit down or please leave the room.”

When the man said, “I’ll do neither,” he was rebuked by another member of the audience for speaking out of turn. Sensenbrenner threatened to gavel the meeting to a close.

“Fine. I’ll leave, Jim, but answer (the) question (that was) asked, not the one you hear in your head!” he said, muttering “a**hole” as he left. Sensenbrenner suggested he pick up a copy of “Miss Manners” on his way out.  

Though it teetered a bit, the Wauwatosa town hall didn't degenerate into a full-blown partisan shouting match.  

In fact, some of Sensenbrenner’s Democratic constituents made a point of prefacing their policy disagreements with respectful nods to his long tenure and the regular listening sessions he holds.  Sensenbrenner typically invites local state legislators to these events. In this case, it was Democrat Robyn Vining, which lent a bipartisan aura to the meeting.     

Was the town hall in Tosa more remarkable for its outbreaks of tension or its fragile civility?

Or just the fact that it happened at all?

Fewer and fewer members of Congress conduct town halls. And the trend toward increasingly one-sided districts makes it that much more unlikely that lawmakers will ever field questions from a room full of people who disagree with them.           

But Wauwatosa voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton by 22 points in 2016, while Sensenbrenner’s district overall voted for Trump by 20 points.   

Asked in an interview about his most contentious town halls, Sensenbrenner said, “I’ve gaveled things closed because of a near riot breaking out a couple of times — two in this room.” He was referring to the Wauwatosa Public Library. (One of those stormy meetings occurred during the recall fight over former GOP Gov. Scott Walker).

A town hall meeting just a few days before Wauwatosa’s had ended prematurely, even though it was on friendly Republican turf in the town of Delafield.

“Thank you for all of your service. Thank you also for so many town hall meetings,” said Phyllis Warden of Delafield. “I’m sorry that with your retirement, the legislative consciousness you have, that historical perspective, is going to be lost to all of us.”

One constituent asked Sensenbrenner how people can fight the “resistance (Democrats) are giving our president.”

Sensenbrenner echoed his complaint and said of Trump: “I agree with probably 90% of what he has done. I probably agree with about 30% of the way he said it. (But) everybody knew what his personality was in 2016, and they voted for him anyhow.”

Then the congressman called on a man named Jerry Lee, who was not a Republican and who complained that the United States wasn’t a republic because its representatives didn’t listen to the people.

Sensenbrenner interjected, “You elect us!” and asked him, “If you don’t like this (system), what’s better?”

Lee replied that gerrymandering made Congress undemocratic.

“So, don’t give me that crap!” said Lee, and “Don’t interrupt me. I didn’t finish.”

Sensenbrenner said: “I won’t give you any more. I am going to adjourn this portion of the meeting. I don’t like to be cussed at, at these meetings.”

Down came the gavel in Delafield.

Sensenbrenner told a reporter he wished more of his colleagues held in-person listening sessions in their districts as opposed to telephone town halls where, “like talk radio, a call screener decides who gets to talk to the congressman.”

He plans to keep holding them until he retires in January 2021 after 42 years in the House.  

“I don’t think I should be running away from my constituents during the last 15 months,” he said.

His town hall in Wauwatosa drew Republicans as well as Democrats. Two constituents thanked him for supporting gun rights, while others urged him to support restrictions like an assault weapons ban.

While guns and climate change sparked debate, Trump was easily the most divisive topic. A woman thanked Sensenbrenner for supporting Trump. A man told him that Trump was shredding values that Sensenbrenner extols such as civility and rule of law.

“When are you going to publicly stand up to a very unfit person?” said the constituent, Bob Kinosian.

Sensenbrenner said he opposed Trump on tariffs and his use of an emergency declaration to fund the border wall, but accused Democrats of blanket intransigence, calling it “disgusting.”  

“You’ve had a very long and distinguished career … we all appreciate you continue to hold these town hall meetings,” said Rockwood, the Wauwatosa man who ran against Sensenbrenner five years ago.  

But during a long back-and-forth, Rockwood told Sensenbrenner, “You and your fellow Republicans have traded your party’s conscience for two Supreme Court justices and a tax cut,” and urged him and other party elders to recruit a GOP challenger against Trump.   

The two clashed in a fairly civil fashion over the Ukraine controversy and Democratic oversight of the president, which was when two audience members fuming over Sensenbrenner’s answers walked out.

Rockwood, a lifelong Democrat who was wearing a button supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president, expressed mixed feelings about his Republican representative in an interview afterward.   

“I make a point of disagreeing without being disagreeable (with Sensenbrenner) … but we just can’t get a good answer out of him,” said Rockwood.  

“My fear is that his successor will be even worse. … He’s not all bad on the issues. And he’s come from an era when bipartisanship existed. Now I wish he’d be more upset about the demise of that era rather than just following in line with Republican leadership,” he said.  

There was one thing the Democrats and Republicans interviewed at the town hall meetings in Delafield and Wauwatosa agreed on — that they would like to see whoever succeeds Sensenbrenner maintain the tradition of taking live questions, in person, from constituents at open meetings in communities across the district.

If it's not too much to ask.