This is an archived article that was published on in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It seems to work for the president of the United States, so, Jason Chaffetz may have surmised, it should work for members of Congress, too.

But explaining away an unpleasant occurrence by fabricating facts about those who oppose you is something the Utah congressman should investigate, not emulate.

After his unpleasant experience at a town hall meeting in Cottonwood Heights last week, Chaffetz had some reasonable points to make about how too many in the overflow crowd were apparently there to create a scene, not to have a reasonable give and take about important issues.

But right away Chaffetz went and spoiled his argument and his credibility by claiming, with no factual basis, that the raucous crowd was speckled with paid hecklers who weren't even from Utah.

This is a congressional district-size version of the president's oft-stated, never verified and wholly outrageous claim that the only reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in November is because millions of illegal votes were cast.

In other words, it's false.

Chaffetz should realize soon, if he hasn't already, that the president hasn't just plowed this ground, he has already salted the fields for anyone who may come after. This crew — dubbed the Prevarication Administration by Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan — has helped to cure the national media of any hesitation it may have had and to start calling out untruths told by high government officials.

Chaffetz has not backed off of his fanciful claim that his audience was full of ringers. But he has started to show a little political backbone by calling the administration on one important question.

In his role as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz Tuesday asked the White House for information about a recent evening at the president's Florida golf resort where, press reports and social media posts suggest, the president of the United States and the prime minister of Japan were discussing classified matters — and shuffling secret papers — in a public dining room.

Something that could make Hillary's email server look positively airtight by comparison.

Opening this line of questioning could be a first step toward some real congressional oversight of the administration. It could help Chaffetz walk back his foolish statement about how the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn was enough to solve some serious questions about what contacts Flynn may have had with Russian officials before the administration took office and, more importantly, what the president knew and when he knew it.

This administration is peppered with policy and political land mines. For his own good, and for ours, Chaffetz should be investigating them, not trying to copy them.