In response to an interview of a Department of Justice section chief by lawmakers from House of Representatives, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Thursday officially requested that the DOJ make its Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith available for an interview that will be transcribed.
The request by Reps. Issa and Jordan resulted from Jack Smith's underling, Richard Pilger, who is the DOJ's Election Crimes Branch chief, telling lawmakers during a legally transcribed interview that officials from the Justice Department met with the Internal Revenue Service's Lois Lerner in October 2010. The meeting entailed an alleged plan to criminalize free speech and prosecute Tea Party and conservative groups.
The date of that first meeting has created more suspicion since that Lerner-DOJ meeting occurred 30-months earlier than Issa, Jordan and their committees were led to believe by the IRS. The purpose of the DOJ-Lerner meeting was to discuss possible criminal prosecution of nonprofit groups on the right of the political spectrum -- especially Tea Party organizations -- for certain political speech.
On Thursday, Issa and Jordan sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that reads in part:
“The Committee’s transcribed interview of Richard Pilger presents further troubling information about the Department’s contemplated prosecution of nonprofit groups for false statement. It is apparent that the Department’s leadership, including Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith, was closely involved in engaging with the IRS in wake of Citizens United and political pressure from prominent Democrats to address perceived problems with the decision.
“According to Mr. Pilger, the Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active non-profits. This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.”
This DOJ-IRS collusion occurred well before Lois Lerner gave a speech before an audience at Duke University in which she lamented over the political pressure placed on IRS staff to “fix the problem” created by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision before the 2010 midterm election cycle.
Earlier this week, Chairman Issa issued a subpoena after Pilger like Lerner refused to answer critical questions on the instructions of a Justice Department lawyer during a transcribed interview on May 6, 2014.
This latest subpoena follows an April 23, 2014 letter from 17 members of the Committee requesting materials concerning the Department’s involvement in efforts to scrutinize tax-exempt applicants after emails surfaced between Pilger and the Internal Revenue Service’s Lois Lerner where they discussed singling out and prosecuting tax-exempt applicants at the urging of a Democratic Senator many believe was New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer.