Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had a simple question for Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards in his opening statement at a congressional hearing into federal funding for the abortion provider Tuesday morning.
If the controversial undercover videos exposing the apparent dismemberment and selling of baby parts by her organization were heavily edited, why did she apologize for the videos just two days after they surfaced?
“Everyone knows these videos are, as the speaker of the House said, barbaric and repulsive,” Jordan added in the hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Jordan’s questioning of Richards turned into a cat and mouse game, as he tried to get her to concede that she had already apologized for wrongdoing, and to explain exactly what Planned Parenthood had done wrong.
The congressman repeatedly asked the same question, in a variety of ways: What, exactly, were you apologizing for?
And Richards repeatedly refused to cite or acknowledge any specific wrongdoing, but kept insisting it was merely inappropriate, on the undercover first tape, for the doctor to have exercised “bad judgment to have a clinical discussion in a non-clinical setting.”
Jordan noted Richards had issued her own tape just two days after the release of the first undercover tape on July 14, and asked again, “Which statements were you apologizing for?”
Richards demurred, responding, “It was really the situation she was in.”
Jordan pressed on, asking, “Were you apologizing for statements that were untrue? Because you normally don’t do that in life. If something is untrue and false, you don’t apologize for that, you correct the record. But that’s not what you said. You said I personally apologize for the tone and statements.”
He then reiterated the question.
Searching for an explanation, Richards sputtered a bit, replying, “I was reflecting that, on that video, not any particular statement, that given, that did not reflect, the compassionate care that we provide at Planned Parenthood…”
Jordan cut her off, asking if her apology was untrue?
Richards never answered the question directly, but continued to assert it was merely inappropriate for a doctor to discuss such matters in a non-clinical setting.
Losing patience, the congressman insisted, “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say I’m apologizing for statements in one video, and then not tell us what those statements were.”
Jordan offered her the chance to say, on the record, that she wasn’t really apologizing in her video.
“But it can’t be both positions,” he insisted. “It has to be one. And I want to know which one is it?”
Richards then reiterated her mantra, “It was inappropriate to have that conversation in a non-clinical setting and in a non-confidential area.”
“Why didn’t you say that?” asked Jordan. “This wasn’t a reporter sticking a mic in front of your face. This was a video you produced to send out to the whole world.”
“Congressman, we may just have to agree to disagree on this matter,” she replied.
He retorted, “I don’t think we’re agreeing to disagree. I think you are not answering my question.”