Lois Lerner should avoid watching old 1930’s prison pictures. It appears she may be starring a a new version of “Up the River” before the IRS scandal is fully investigated. It was reported Wednesday that the Justice Department was investigating circumstances behind the disappearance of emails from a "former senior Internal Revenue Service official." It appears to be part of a wider criminal inquiry concerning IRS targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced he will testify Thursday that DOJ investigators are looking into emails that went missing from the computer of the now infamous Lois Lerner. Cole declined an invitation to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, spending time assembling his investigative team.
Is this all coming about suddenly because of pressure from the American people? It would seem that nothing the Republicans attempted to do to further the quest for the truth was ever enough. Suddenly Cole’s “team” will "provide Congress with detailed information about the facts we uncovered and the conclusions we reached in this matter," The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night.
The reaction from Capitol Hill was swift. Rep. Jim Jordan, R., Ohio, the chairman of the subcommittee that is holding Thursday's hearing, told the Journal, "Finally, someone in the administration admits that the destruction of two years of emails from Lois Lerner is fishy.” The IRS has said all along that they lost the emails in 2011 when Lois Lerner's computer crashed. By coincidence, Lerner at the time headed the IRS division that deals with tax-exempt organizations.
Apparently the childish excuse finally met a jury that wouldn’t buy the outlandish explanation, the American people. Without much attention from the mainstream press, known to heavily favor Obama without question, the DOJ and its head, Eric Holder, best friend to the president, have been pressured into doing what they are paid to do; search out justice.
Lerner now has a target on her back after two House committee hearings into the handling of applications for tax-exempt status by tea party groups. She cited her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself at both hearings. The Republican-led House slapped Lerner with a contempt of Congress citation for refusing to testify.
Lerner's attorney, William Taylor III, who many feel coached Lerner to hide the truth, declined to comment Wednesday. For many months the Republicans have accused the Obama administration of not cooperating with their investigation. They have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate, which he has resisted for some unknown reason.
In a too little, too late explanation, Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement, "The IRS investigation was launched by the department without hesitation and immediately after Ms. Lerner publicly acknowledged the potential misconduct. The probe remains a top priority for the department."
From the amount of time it has taken to reach this point, it is difficult to define what “top priority” to the Justice Department really is. The best anyone in Washington can figure is the reality of the midterm elections only four months away may have gotten Eric Holder to remove a few cobwebs from the scandals extensive records.
Meanwhile, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen sees no evidence of a crime. He does not feel Lerner intentionally destroyed the missing emails and that the IRS was going to great lengths trying to retrieve lost documents on Lerner's computer. It must make Americans wonder what the results would be if they attempted to try this sort of shenanigans with their own tax returns. Those Americans would definitely be the star of their own film entitled “Leavenworth.”
Try this excuse the next time the dog eats your tax return. In 2011, the IRS had a policy of backing up emails on computer tapes, but the tapes were recycled every six months. That is what Koskinen told a dubious Congress. But Lerner's hard drive was recycled after technicians in the agency's forensics lab tried unsuccessfully to restore it, he said.
Wouldn’t that justify a “Get out of jail free” card for any taxpayer? Unfortunately, two federal judges in Washington last week ordered the IRS to explain a bit more on how it lost a trove (trove meaning thousands) of emails to and from Lerner.
Perhaps it’s time to shelve the Benghazi investigation, the “Fast and Furious” inquiries and dozens of other Obama White House messes in the near future. The IRS scandal alone looks like ten Watergates put together.
* If you have enjoyed this column, may I suggest you scroll down this page and press the SUBSCRIBE box? It's FREE. Thank you for your patronage.
** Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
*** Look for “Redistribution of Common Sense” – Selected commentaries on the Obama administration 2009 – 2014, premiering July 21st on amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and many other book outlets nationwide.