During the turbulent Watergate years of the early 1970’s, House and Senate committees were desperately trying to find a thread to tie the scandal together. During such a committee hearing, a White House aide, Alexander Butterfield stunned the lawmakers with the revelation President Nixon taped all Oval Office conversations. The rest is history.
Yesterday may have been the turning point of the long-stalled IRS inquiry. New documents show Lois Lerner, the embattled IRS employee at the center of the scandal, publicly told the Justice Department that the agency was indeed singling out tea party and conservative organizations.
According to newly uncovered documents, Lerner felt she had “lied” about the agency's political activities. The targeting of these groups may have gone further into the White House than expected. Lerner had first said the targeting was only through the Cincinnati office.
On May 8, 2013, Lerner said she took a call from Richard Pilger who was director of elections crimes at the Justice Department. He inquired if the IRS could help "piece together false statement cases about applicants who 'lied'" on a particular IRS form, "saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures.”
Lerner’s email notes said, "DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs," Lerner said in the email.
Then the ‘Butterfield-like bombshell, "I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS…," she said. That email went to Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff at the time to Steven Miller, who was the acting IRS commissioner.
Flax shot back an email the next day that said, "I think we should do it, also need to include Criminal Investigation Division, which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to Federal Election Commission]. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?"
Judicial Watch received these communications through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed last October.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said, "These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted. The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal."
Ohio Rep, Jim Jordan said, "These e-mails are part of an overwhelming body of evidence that political pressure from prominent Democrats led to the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs. Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner's emails.
It now appears that the investigation is coming together and the house of cards is ready to collapse. Jordan added, “Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department would likely have been leveling trumped-up criminal charges against tea party groups to intimidate them from exercising their Constitutional rights."
President Barack Obama famously told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly last February that there was "not even a smidgen of corruption." Add to this mess the oversight committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. It is now reported he shared information with the IRS that effectively led the agency to investigate “True the Vote” after the group filed its application for tax-exempt status in 2010. He never mentioned that to the committee.
In her email correspondence, Lerner said, "One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn't feel so comfortable doing the stuff. So, don't be fooled about how this is being articulated, it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity."
It’s going to be a long summer for the White House, as it was for the Nixon administration in 1974 that culminated with the president’s resignation August 9th.
If the full House finds Lerner in contempt, the matter would be referred to federal prosecutors. That will most likely be the case now with the startling new evidence.
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