Reynolds: Obama’s Double Asterisks on IRS

court-IRS-Lerner

First, we found out agency was targeting Tea Party. Now IRS emails are missing. Cover-up?

For USAToday, Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes: I guess it’s time to award President Obama a second asterisk. When charges came out that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups for harassment, the Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto started calling Obama “President Asterisk.”

[Don’t miss this: The Daily Caller Knows EXACTLY Where The IRS Emails Went]

His point was that this illicit assistance tainted the election, the way an athlete’s use of illegal performance-enhancers results in an asterisk on any records he sets.

“…since government agencies seldom ‘lose’ evidence that makes them look good, reasonable people might suspect that there’s a cover-up going on…”

Now it may be time for another asterisk. As Congress investigates the IRS chicanery, the IRS has responded to a book-new-schoolrequest for emails to and from Lois Lerner, who spearheaded the Tea Party harassment, by saying, basically, that the dog ate its homework.

[Glenn Reynolds‘ book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself is available at Amazon]

Or, rather, the IRS claims, somewhat dubiously, that “a hard drive crash” on Lerner’s computer led to the loss of emails to outside entities “such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” You know, the very people she’s accused of coordinating her harassment with.

“…After all, nobody thought that the famous ’18½ minute gap’ on Richard Nixon’s White House tapes contained anything positive about White House involvement in Watergate.”

With those emails missing, it’ll be harder to prove whether Lerner’s Tea Party harassment might have been at the behest of other wrongdoers, perhaps going as high as the Oval Office itself. But since government agencies seldom “lose” evidence that makes them look good, reasonable people might suspect that there’s a cover-up going on. After all, nobody thought that the famous “18½ minute gap” on Richard Nixon’s White House tapes contained anything positive about White House involvement in Watergate.

National Journal’s Ron Fournier thinks that “you couldn’t blame a person for suspecting a cover-up.” No, you couldn’t. In fact, you’d have to be pretty gullible — or in-the-tank — not to suspect a cover-up.

So Fournier wants a special prosecutor to investigate the question, since in a matter of this magnitude — and one in which the Department of Justice might turn out to be complicit — the public trust wouldn’t be satisfied by a routine investigation. Fournier writes: “The White House is stonewalling the IRS investigation. The most benign explanation is that Obama’s team is politically expedient and arrogant, which makes them desperate to change the subject, and convinced of their institutional innocence. That’s bad enough. But without a fiercely independent investigation, we shouldn’t assume the explanation is benign.”

He’s correct, of course. But there’s still a problem…(read more)

USAToday

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself.

In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions from outside writers, including our Board of Contributors. To read more columns like this, go to the opinion front page or follow us on twitter@USATopinion or Facebook.


One Comment on “Reynolds: Obama’s Double Asterisks on IRS”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet First, we found out agency was targeting Tea Party. Now IRS emails are missing. Cover-up? For […]


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