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Tag Archives: IRS Scandal

Lerner Lost Email Witness Held from Congress Until After Election

A Treasury official who may have knowledge of how IRS official Lois Lerner’s lost emails got lost won’t be available to testify to Congress until after the voting is done.

According to The Furnace blog over at the Blaze:

House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., on Wednesday accused the Obama administration of preventing an official with information about the IRS scandal from testifying until after the November election.

Camp wrote to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to point out that his committee asked in mid-September to hear testimony from Hannah Stott-Bumstead, a lawyer who may have been the first person told about the lost emails of former IRS official Lois Lerner.

Camp said that while he had hoped to hear from the witness within two weeks, and Treasury seemed to have no objections to having her testify, Treasury later ignored their request.

“Treasury officials ignored this committee’s phone and email inquiries about Ms. Stott-Bumstead’s availability,” Camp wrote. “On the morning of October 14, a month from the initial request, the same Treasury officials told staff that Ms. Stott-Bumstead was not available until sometime in November.”

Camp also said he was told by Treasury that interviewing a Treasury lawyer poses “Constitutional and practical concerns.” But Camp said the committee has interviewed more than a dozen Treasury lawyers already.

“Why the sudden change in protocol?” he asked.

No change in protocol. She just didn’t get the “openness administration” memo.

Video || I Hear You Knocking, Lois . . .

You may be aware the other day that a video was put out featuring conservative writer Jason Mattera ambushing former IRS official Lois Lerner while she was walking her dogs, asking her if she wanted to apologize for targeting conservatives.

Now, I’m no fan of such tactics, which I think are designed more to call attention to the ambusher than actually elicit information or make a serious point. But I did think it was kind of funny that when she tried to escape by knocking on a neighbor’s door, they told her and her dogs to get lost.

Humorist and musician The Ronnie Buss thought it was amusing too.

Lerner Case Now Requires a Special Prosecutor

With the latest email revelation concerning Lois Lerner, one of two things MUST now happen, if we are in fact living in a democracy where government is accountable to the people: Either the Justice Department must name a special prosecutor to focus on potential IRS abuses, or the House must appoint a select committee to investigate the matter. Or both.

The whiff of crime and coverup are now everywhere and undeniable except to those drunk in partisanship or blinded by delusion.

Here are the new facts.

On April 9 of last year, Lerner emailed IT specialist Maria Hooke, asking about whether Congress could gain access to an internal IRS chat system called the Office Communications Server.

Hooke said the agency should treat each chat message “as if it could/is being saved [somewhere], as it is possible for either party of the conversation to retain the information and have it turn up as part of the electronic search.”

“Perfect” Lerner replied.

Most damningly, Lerner also wrote:

I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.

The questioned begged here is what needed to be hidden from Congress, and and why did Lerner, and other “folks” she mentions, need to hide it?

Other fun facts which supplement the basic, known problem, which is that the IRS targeted Obama’s enemies in the Tea Party:

  • Lerner’s emails for the period covering her targeting of Tea Party groups were lost in a computer hard drive “crash” during the summer of 2011. The hard drives of other IRS officials also crashed.
     
    Lerner’s system went down just ten days after the Republican Ways and Means Committee chairman sent a letter to the IRS commissioner saying, “the IRS appears to have selectively targeted certain taxpayers who were engaged in political speech.”
     
    Protestations that she tried to retrieve the hard drive data hold no weight. That’s exactly what I would do if I decided to pretend my hard drive crashed.
  • The IRS, days before the 2010 election, shipped a 1.1 million page database about tax-exempt groups to the FBI. According to the Wall Street Journal:

    Emails turned up by Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee show Department of Justice officials worked with Ms. Lerner to investigate groups critical of President Obama . . .

    Ms. Lerner, by contrast, shipped a database of 12,000 nonprofit tax returns to the FBI, the investigating agency for Justice’s Criminal Division. The IRS, in other words, was inviting Justice to engage in a fishing expedition, and inviting people not even licensed to fish in that pond.

If this were a Republican administration and the IRS was potentially being used in this matter, the press would be howling about a second Watergate.

The press won’t do its job. Either the Justice Department or Congress must.

IRS Failed to Share News of Lost Lerner Emails

Testifying before the House Oversight Committee today, U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero said the IRS failed, as required by law, to notify him that records – in this case the lost emails of Lois Lerner – had been destroyed.

“They did not follow the law,” Ferriero said.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified Monday that he knew of the lost email records in April and didn’t tell a soul, not even the committee to which he had promised to provide them.

“I never said I would provide you emails I didn’t have,” Koskinen snapped when quizzed by committee chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

Well isn’t that special?

Here we have potentially crucial evidence destroyed, and Koskinen fails to alert the congressional panel he knows is intensely interested in it.

Here’s the exchange with Issa.

What’s more, Koskinen couldn’t say why the backup recovery system the IRS had wasn’t used to recover her email, except to say it might be too “complicated.”

So they have a backup system, but it’s too difficult to use. Makes sense.

George Will: Why the IRS Case Merits a Special Prosecutor

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, George Will yesterday cogently outlined the case for a special prosecutor to probe the IRS scandal.

Here are his points, which I’ve quote in bulleted format:

    WILL: We can no more expect Mr. Holder to investigate this White House than we could have expected John Mitchell to investigate the Nixon White House. Here’s — we know six things, Chris:
  • We know first the targeting occurred
  • Therefore, second, we know that this is worse than article two of the Nixon impeachment count, which said Nixon endeavored to use the IRS. The IRS back then resisted.
  • Third, we know that this became public in an act of deceit when Lois Lerner planted a question with a friend in an audience to try and get this out on her own terms.
  • Fourth, we know that she has taken the Fifth Amendment because she has a right to do this when she has a reasonable suspicion that there might be criminal activity involved.
  • Fifth, we know that from the timeline you put up today, that there has been 13 months of stonewalling on this.
  • And sixth, now we know that not only her hard drive, but six other people intimately involved in this suddenly crashed in an amazing miraculous coincidence – religions have been founded on less – ten days after the investigation started. That’s why we need a special prosecutor.

I would add one:

  • Seventh, the president of the United States squashed any type of internal federal probe by foreordaining the conclusion when he said the scandal had “not even a smidgen of corruption” to it.

Let’s put this in perspective: The nation’s extraordinarily powerful tax agency targeted the president’s political opponents. This is unequivocal. Evidence that could prove White House or other type of conspiracy has been destroyed. This clearly merits a drop-in from Woodward and Bernstein, which of course can’t happen now.

Oh, wait a second.

WOODWARD: I mean take Benghazi, a highly politicized issue. And I’ve looked at all those e-mails that were released. It takes a day to make sense of them. And if you dig into it, there are unanswered questions. . .

And Carl’s exactly right, you put 10 people on that and you say, go to work. You don’t have to give me the answers tomorrow or the next day, but take your time. The same on the IRS scandal. That is a real issue. Some people should move to Cincinnati and get hotel rooms and say, we’re going to talk to everyone who worked in that division of the IRS.

BERNSTEIN: Also, as happened in Watergate, let some Democrats get up and say, we want a real bipartisan investigation of what happened in Cincinnati, in the IRS. Get it out in the hands of the Republican grandstanders who are trying to make political points instead of conduct a serious investigation, and put together and start to get some facts as happened in Watergate.

But there are not Woodward and Bernsteins for Obama. Too many reporters are sympathetic to the president. And in journalism today, news outlets are unwilling to devote their depleting resources to investigative journalism, which takes time and money and creates the risk that a reporter might not have an update for the website every day.

There will be no special prosecutor. There will be no serious investigative reporting. And we risk having what might be one of the worst crimes ever committed by the executive branch successfully covered up.

White House Plays the Cuckoo Card

Excuse me, do you actually believe the White House had anything to do with the IRS targeting of OBAMA’S OPPONENTS?

Well, you’re cuckoo.

That was the message Friday, as White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest laid down the new administration line that people who talk of possible White House involvement in the IRS scandal or suggest some kind of plot to target the Tea Party are engaging in CONSPIRACY THEORIES.

Uhh, I don’t know. With respect to this crime, we have the gun – the IRS – and we certainly have the motive. We do not yet have conclusive evidence, some of which may have been melted down in a kiln after Lois Lerner’s dog tried to eat her hard drive.

Here’s Earnest’s response to a question about whether an “independent person” of some sort should be appointed to probe the IRS scandal.

EARNEST: The thing that is also true is that there have been a large number of claims and conspiracy theories that have been floated about this process by Republicans that just have not panned out, frankly.  And we’ve demonstrated our willingness to collaborate with them with legitimate oversight.  We’ll continue to cooperate, and that’s why you’ve — that’s why there’s been the testimony that you’ve seen today because there are senior Obama administration officials that are going up there and answering all of these questions; again, some of which are rooted in the kinds of conspiracy theories that don’t have any truth to them.

Q    So wouldn’t it help just having an independent person come in and look at it?  I mean if you’re saying that what they’re doing is political, wouldn’t it help to have an independent person look at it?

EARNEST:  No, because I think even the politically motivated investigation has not turned up any facts that support the conspiracy theories that they’ve propounded.

Very disappointing. I really think Earnest could have been more original with his first nasty White House-driven smear campaign. I mean, conspiracy theories? Been there, done that.

Dems Pull Anti-Issa Stunt on the House Floor

Here’s the latest attempt by Democrats to make Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, and not Tea Party targeter Lois Lerner, the issue in the IRS scandal.

You’ll remember, Lerner on March 5 invoked the Fifth Amendment during her second appearance before the panel, prompting Issa to shut down the hearing. Ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he had a “a procedural question.” When it became clear that what Cummings actually had was a political statement, Issa cut his mike.

I wonder if the whole thing wasn’t staged to provoke a backlash against Issa. The backlash has included charges that Issa is racist because he was failing to let a black man – Cummings – speak.

Dems, certainly not caring about any particular principles or who might get tarred as a racist, staged an anti-Issa rally on the floor Thursday, complete with iPads, probably knowing full well they’d be asked to shut them off, which they were.

Attorney for Targeted Group: IRS Scandal Not Over

Cleta Mitchell, the attorney for several groups that had been targeted by the IRS, said today the scandal is “real,” the Justice Department investigation is a “sham,” and the scandal continues. Mitchell said: The IRS scandal is real, it’s not pretend, it’s real. The IRS scandal is not just a bone headed bunch of bureaucrats… Continue Reading

George Will Compares IRS Scandal to Watergate, Iran Contra

George Will, hardly an intemperate man, compared the IRS scandal Monday to Watergate and Iran Contra. Will, who appeared on Fox News Special Report, was discussing President Obama’s assertion Sunday that the scandal didn’t have a ‘Smidgeon” of corruption to it, thereby undermining an ongoing Justice Department investigation seeking to discover just such a smidgeon, or worse. Will… Continue Reading

The Spending Bill’s Foul-Smelling Secret

Do you understand that the IRS will not need to repeat 2012 targeting of Tea Party groups in 2014 because those groups ARE BEING PUMMELED INTO SILENCE instead? Do you understand? The wide-ranging “omnibus” spending bill just approved by Congress, with the cooperation of Republicans, failed to include a proposed provision reversing a new Obama… Continue Reading