The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), began the proceedings by suggesting Warren had lied to the committee in a previous hearing that had questioned the CFPB’s role in offering advice to state attorneys general negotiating a settlement with abusive mortgage servicers.
At the time, Warren said she was proud her agency had been able to help, at the request of the Treasury Secretary. But McHenry brought up the memo again, suggesting it showed that she hid a larger role in the negotiations from Congress.
“This is our job, and we’re trying to do our job, to be helpful to other agencies, and to help those agencies to hold those who break the law accountable,” Warren said, repeating that she was proud of the work.
The exchange prompted Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) to say he was sorry.
“I apologize to the witness for the rude and disrespectful behavior of the chair,” Yarmuth told Warren. “The questioning of your veracity when there is documented evidence that you are being totally truthful indicates to me that this hearing is all about impugning you because people are afraid of you.”
But perhaps the ugliest moment in the contentions sessions came at the end, when Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, pointed out that based on the emails his staff had gotten, McHenry was keeping Warren later than an agreed 2:15 p.m. ending time.
The session had been moved repeatedly, with the timing changing as late as Tuesday morning.
But McHenry insisted there had been no agreement, even though he, the subcommittee members and Warren all arrived there an hour early.
“I’m not trying to cause you problems, Ms. Warren,” McHenry said.
“You are causing problems,” Warren answered. “We had an agreement for a later hearing. Your staff asked us to move around so that we had to change everything on my schedule to try to accommodate your time…”
“We agreed that I would be out of here at 2:15 because there are other things now scheduled at 2:30,” she said.
“That was a request, ” McHenry snapped.
“Congressmen, you told us one thing,” Warren responded
“I did not tell you anything,” he shot back, before adding to audible gasps in the hearing room: “You’re making this up, Ms. Warren. This is not the case.”
A shocked Cummings intervened, saying: “You just accused the lady of lying. I think you need to clear this up with your staff.”
Cummings noted the time changes in the hearing, and a CFPB source later confirmed to Huffington Post that there had been a specific agreement.