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Darrell Issa, Republican Congressman, Faces Tough Crowd at Town Hall

The nine-term congressman faced off with an auditorium of largely Democratic voters troubled by the Trump administration.
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa speaks has people hold up signs during a town hall meeting at the Junior Seau Beach Community Center in Oceanside, Calif., on Saturday, March 11, 2017.Hayne Palmour IV / The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP

After weeks of demonstrations outside of his office in California, longtime Republican congressman Darrell Issa faced a crowded auditorium of angry voters Saturday, marking his first town hall appearance since the election in November.

The nine-term congressman caved to demands from his constituents to hold a town hall event, bringing him face to face with an auditorium of more than 500 largely Democratic voters troubled by the Trump administration.

Issa held two separate town halls at Junior Seau Recreation Center in Oceanside, California, to accommodate the large number of voters and protesters who gathered to challenge their representative. Audience members booed and jeered throughout the meetings as the congressman answered questions for more than three hours.

At one point, the auditorium was so rowdy Issa quipped, “I don’t mind that things are contentious. I just don’t want things to end like the play ‘Hamilton.'"

But his voters were largely not amused.

They pressed Issa on how he plans to challenge the proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act, calls to defund Planned Parenthood, and President Trump’s stance on immigration and refugees.

Voters also refused to let the congressman sidestep questions about Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, repeatedly questioning how he personally plans to investigate the country’s interference in the 2016 election.

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Issa said his past statements with regard to Russia have been “clearly out of step” with his fellow Republicans in Congress and that he has, instead, pressed lawmakers to investigate the claims.

Image: Demonstration over repeal of Obamacare in Vista, California
Demonstrators protest over the repeal and replacement of Obamacare outside the offices of Republican congressman Darrell Issa in Vista, California.MIKE BLAKE / Reuters

“When you elect a member of Congress you elect him to worry about global security and our security,” he said. “Are we going to investigate Russia to the very nth degree on interfering in our election? Yes.”

Issa ended his first town hall after a tense exchange with a Democratic challenger for his congressional seat. On Wednesday, a prominent local Democrat, Mike Levin, announced he would run against the congressman in 2018, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Related: Conservatives' Frustration Over Health Care Turns to Paul Ryan

In a preview of their upcoming showdown, Levin and Issa had a tense exchange over the environment before the congressman cut him off.

“If you’re fortunate enough to go to Congress, you’re going to discover that dialogue is possible,” Issa said, to renewed boos and jeers.