The media just pretended they didn’t exist.
Mark Hemingway writes: As achievements go, this would be one in which a modern president could take pride. But in making the claim for himself, Obama proves he cannot even accurately describe the events of his presidency. His tenure saw an astounding number of scandals: Benghazi, Fast and Furious gunrunning, Solyndra and green energy subsidies for campaign donors, cash for Iranian hostages, IRS targeting of conservative groups, spying on journalists, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the Veterans Administration disaster, trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held in Guantánamo, droning American citizens without due process, and firing inspector general Gerald Walpin for investigating an Obama crony who was abusing federal programs. And that list isn’t exhaustive.
The media have certainly tried their best to buttress Obama’s claim to have presided over a scandal-free administration—starting long before he even made it. In 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick told the (skeptical) host of PBS’s Charlie Rose that the president had already racked up “huge” achievements. On his list: “The fact that there’s been no scandal, major scandal, in this administration, which is a rare thing in an administration.”
Remnick was hardly alone. Veteran journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg back in 2011 headlined “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal.” More recently, Glenn Thrush, then a Politico reporter, tweeted, “As Obama talks up legacy on campaign trail important to note he’s had best/least scandal-scarred 2nd term since FDR.” Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks last year declared the Obama administration “remarkably scandal-free.”
Remnick’s remark is particularly notable for how it presaged White House talking points. Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod was asked at the University of Chicago in 2015 about the administration’s broken promise to bar lobbyists from working for it. Axelrod admitted things hadn’t been “pristine” but said, “I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal.”
As Noah Rothman observed in Commentary, “The qualifier ‘major’ lays the burden on shoulders of the press to define what constitutes a serious scandal, and political media had thus far reliably covered the administration’s ethical lapses as merely the peculiar obsessions of addlebrained conservatives.”
So what would constitute a “major” scandal? Would it involve, say, dead bodies? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels; they used some of them to kill dozens of people, including American border patrol agent Brian Terry. When Congress tried to investigate why the ATF gave away so many guns and failed to track them, the Department of Justice engaged in unprecedented stonewalling.
The department withheld 92 percent of the documents requested and forbade 48 relevant employees from speaking to congressional investigators. Attorney General Eric Holder was ultimately held in contempt of Congress, with 17 Democrats supporting the measure. An explanation for why the ATF gave thousands of guns to violent criminals has yet to emerge—but we are to understand that this is not a “major” scandal. Read the rest of this entry »
The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, by Kimberly Strassel (Twelve Press, 396 pp., $30)
Fred Siegel writes:
…Strassel’s chapters on the politicization of the IRS in Obama’s hands make for a striking summary of Chicago skullduggery. In 2012, an election year, the IRS, led by liberal operative Lois Lerner, systematically sidelined conservative (often Tea Party) organizations. The broadest and deepest scandal in IRS history is more than three years old, but there is little chance that Obama’s Chicago-ized Justice Department will hold anyone accountable. Strassel also discusses the attempts led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Dick Durbin of Illinois to criminalize criticism of the standard-issue UN position on climate change. The senators insist that manmade climate change is a matter of “settled science.” But climate is always changing, and science is never settled.
In late 2008, after Democrats took control of all three branches of government, the Left realized, writes Strassel, that it could use the federal bureaucracy to deploy campaign finance laws selectively against its opponents. The Left could also call upon “the extraordinary new power of the Internet and social media” to convince “a credulous public” that its assaults on opposition political activity “were aimed at ‘cleaner’ and ‘more open’ elections.” This dynamic constitutes what Strassel calls “the modern intimidation game” that “now defines American politics.”
[Read the full review here, at City Journal]
In Wisconsin, Democrats enraged by Governor Scott Walker’s successful effort to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees played the intimidation game even while out of power. The state’s Progressive-era laws, designed to ensure fair elections, and its unique Government Accountability Board were turned against conservative activists who supported Walker. Democratic Party county prosecutors pressed an array of lawsuits and used armed sheriffs’ deputies to stage early-morning raids, guns drawn, on the homes of conservative activists suspected of having marginally violated state campaign finance laws—in this case, the heinous crime of having outside committees coordinate campaign expenditures with Governor Walker’s electoral efforts. Further, the accused were forbidden by state law of telling anyone, except their lawyers, about the raids. Most of this, as Strassel accurately notes, was “simple harassment.”
As for real wrongdoing, the Obama administration, as Strassel explains, has slow-walked documents required for the investigation into the IRS scandals and the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious fiasco, in which the federal government inadvertently armed Mexican drug cartels. Moreover, the House committee examining the Benghazi debacle still doesn’t have tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton emails. But the investigation did inadvertently expose the former secretary of state’s home-brewed email server. Read the rest of this entry »
Robert W. Merry reviews Grover Norquist’s new book
Congress would never allow sequestration to take effect, according to the media wisdom of the day, and hence Republicans would have to accept tax increases as part of the alternative fiscal bargain. That would mean the GOP would have to repudiate the famous Tax Pledge devised by Norquist and signed by nearly every congressional Republican. That, in turn, would destroy the force and power of that nettlesome Tax Pledge—and dislodge Norquist from his prominent place as Horatio at the bridge of tax policy.
[Order Grover Norquist’s book “End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America“, Center Street, 352 pp., $20.25 at Amazon.com]
This particular episode took place around the luncheon table of the Center for the National Interest (publisher of this website and its allied magazine), and the media hounds went after Norquist with the glee of those who know they are about to witness a political comeuppance of serious magnitude. Through it all, the imperturbable Norquist confidently and quietly held his ground—never ruffled, never riled, never lacking in magnanimity, seemingly sure of his aces. “This isn’t my first rodeo,” he said, and laid out a lucid political explanation for why his Pledge would hold, even in the face of such tectonic pressures.
The next day, the Los Angeles Times offered an analysis entitled, “Grover Norquist the has-been.” It proclaimed that “even he can’t ignore the signs that his hold is slipping.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, after quoting Norquist’s insistence that congressional Republicans would adhere to their anti-tax heritage, even in the face of the looming sequestration decision, wrote with a smirk, “Also, the dog ate Norquist’s homework.” He added that Norquist’s confidence on the matter suggested he “had been on a long trip in a remote location.” The New York Times, in a front-page feature, suggested Norquist “finds himself in a tricky spot.”
What happened next? The sequestration deadline came and went, no grand fiscal compromise emerged, the austere spending cuts went into effect, and Norquist’s famous Pledge remained intact, as did the political standing and influence of Norquist himself. Dana Milbank never got around to revealing to his readers his own remote location whenthe dog was eating his prediction of Norquist’s political demise. Truly, Norquist is a Washington figure to be reckoned with.
Now he bundles up his anti-tax sentiments and political assessments into a sprightly volume entitled: End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America. It’s a book of many parts: primer on America’s tax history and growth in government; polemical expose of liberal legerdemain on the issue; policy recommendations for smaller government, strong economic growth and a streamlined tax system; and paean to the energy and efficiency of unfettered capitalism. He even provides an amusing narrative of the earnest efforts of his adversaries to obliterate his famous Pledge, all to no avail.
The reason they can’t obliterate it, writes Norquist, is that the American people are on to the ominous consequences of inexorable governmental expansion and fiscal incontinence. Currently, U.S. governmental spending—federal, state and local—amounts to 34 percent of the national economy, while taxes consume about 30 percent of annual GDP. And what’s going to happen to tax rates and the governmental share of GDP, he asks, when it comes time to pay down the $17 trillion in federal debt (nearly $8 trillion of it added on Obama’s watch) or the $123 trillion in “unfunded liabilities” accumulated through years of irresponsible government spending?
All this has generated civic angers that in turn spawned the Tea Party phenomenon of the early Obama years—the country’s first mass movement focused primarily on governmental spending. During the week of April 15, 2009, Americans gathered across the country in more than 600—perhaps as many as a thousand—anti-spending rallies with up to a million participants. As Norquist puts it, “A wall of opposition to government spending rose up.” At the next election, Republicans campaigning against government spending and Obama’s stimulus legislation captured the House by gaining sixty-three seats in that chamber; they also picked up a net gain of six Senate seats.
Two years later, though, the Tea Party movement seemed to have petered out. Republicans failed to oust Obama from the White House or to capture the four Senate seats needed for control of that chamber. What happened?
According to Norquist, the answer is simple. “The Tea Party didn’t fall down the stairs. It was pushed.” Read the rest of this entry »
The DoJ won’t press contempt charges against her for her busted attempt to plead the fifth (Here Is a Statement of Alleged Facts I Want to Introduce Into the Record/Having Done That, I Now Say I Don’t Want to Speak for the Record).
Supposedly the DoJ is still considering bringing some sort of charges against her over the Tea Party Targeting.
Sure. I’m sure Eric Holder and Barack Obama want to get right to the bottom of the conspiracy they were participants in.
IRS’s Harassment of Citizen Groups to Chill Opposition, Protect Incumbent Party, and Influence Presidential Election Outcome Approved by Federal Judge
The IRS notched a major legal victory Thursday after a federal judge dismissed lawsuits brought by more than 40 conservative groups seeking remedies for being singled out in the tea party targeting scandal.
“[T]he Court is satisfied that there is no reasonable expectation that the alleged conduct will recur, as the defendants have not only suspended the conduct, but have also taken remedial measures to ensure that the conduct is not repeated.”
Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia threw out almost all counts brought against the tax-collecting agency in two cases, ruling that both were essentially moot now that the IRS granted the groups their tax-exempt status that had been held up for years
Translation: “They promised not to do it anymore, so it’s okay”
The decisions have major implications for tea party groups suing the IRS over the issue. It appears they have a tough case to make because the IRS, since the controversy broke in 2013, has approved most tea party groups’ applications, which, according to Walton, keeps the court from hearing their cases.
“After the plaintiff initiated this case, its application to the IRS for tax-exempt status was approved by the IRS. The allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which delayed the processing of the plaintiff’s tax exempt application and brought about this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiff,” Walton said in his decision to throw out True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS.
“The judge, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, also said the groups couldn’t receive monetary relief from individual IRS officials, such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, because of the ‘chilling effect’ it would have on tax administration.”
(Chilling political speech of opposition groups is okay, but risking a potential chilling effect on the IRS? No! We can’t have that!)
His reasoning was similar in the second case, where 41 conservative groups banded together to sue the IRS for similar misconduct: “[T]he allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct … is no longer impacting the plaintiffs. … Counts … are therefore moot.”
The judge, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, also said the groups couldn’t receive monetary relief from individual IRS officials, such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, because of the chilling effect it would have on tax administration.
The same judge in August rejected True the Vote’s bid for a court-appointed forensics expert to hunt Lerner’s lost emails, another blow to conservatives seeking outside experts to take the lead on the IRS investigation. Two years’ worth of the former head of the tax-exempt division’s emails were erased in a hard drive crash in 2011, the IRS says. Read the rest of this entry »
Even if we didn’t have proof that Lois Lerner and the IRS had deliberately targeted conservative non-profit groups whose names included words like “Tea Party” and “patriots,” this could just been seen as another example of big government inefficiency and incompetence. Thing is, we know that conservative groups’ applications were held up through several election cycles to keep them from influencing the vote.
American Center for Law and Justice attorney Miles Terry writes today that two more conservative groups have had their tax-exempt applications approved — after a more than four-year delay.
Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.
Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.
C’mon, IRS. Get it together…(read more)
The fact that it took the Administration FOUR YEARS to approve this group’s tax status is shameful. http://t.co/RKlQEG5Yeq
The documents show Lerner’s efforts to persuade Treasury auditors that there was no institutional bias at the IRS, the agency’s attempts to head off a damaging investigation with a pre-emptive apology, and Lerner’s pep talk to her staff after the apology.
WASHINGTON — Gregory Korte reports: The day that former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner publicly apologized for using “inappropriate criteria” to delay tax exemptions for Tea Party groups, she told her colleagues that they were being “beaten up by the press for all the wrong reasons.”
It was only going to get worse, she told them in an e-mail, and there was no way around it other than to “ride it through.”
Then she left for a week’s vacation in Canada.
That e-mail comes in 1,706 pages of newly released documents that shed light on the damage control happening at the IRS — and at the watchdog agency investigating it — as the scandal blew up last year. Read the rest of this entry »
Connor D. Wolf reports: The official at the center of the Internal Revenue Service tea party scandal once dismissed complaints that labor unions were not reporting millions of dollars in political activities on their tax forms, according to an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We believe this difference in reporting does not necessarily indicate that the organization has incorrectly reported to either the DOL or the IRS.”
In 2007, Lerner responded directly to a complaint that some major labor unions reported completely different amounts of political expenditures when filing with the IRS and the Department of Labor.
At the time of the email, Lerner was the Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS. Read the rest of this entry »
George Will: The IRS is Cuckoo Bananas Off the Rails Criminally Insane and It Is Now Thoroughly CorruptedPosted: August 26, 2014
“The IRS is the most intrusive and potentially punitive institution of the federal government and it is a law-enforcement institution and it is off the rails and it is now thoroughly corrupted.”
— George Will
From The Corner:
On Tuesday’s Special Report, George Will reacted to the revelation that the IRS destroyed Lois Lerner’s BlackBerry without searching it, after a congressional investigation into her conduct had begun.
Will said he could hardly wait for IRS lawyers to show up in court and tell the judge it would be too onerous to stop obstructing justice in this case. Read the rest of this entry »
IRS Destroyed Lois Lerner Blackberry When? AFTER Congressional Inquiry Began, That’s When.
NRO‘s Ian Tuttle reports: According to the second round of IRS affidavits submitted to U.S. district court judge Emmett Sullivan, who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against the nation’s tax agency by watchdog group Judicial Watch, Inc., IRS technical analysts did not search Lois Lerner’s Blackberry for her allegedly “lost” e-mails — and the smartphone was destroyed after congressional investigation had begun.
“There is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this litigation.”
— Stephen Manning, IRS Information Technology business unit
Lerner’s government-issued laptop reportedly crashed in June 2011, at which time IRS analysts tried but failed to recover data, including e-mail communications, according to previous testimony. In his sworn declaration, Stephen Manning – deputy chief information officer for strategy and modernization with the IRS Information Technology business unit – reports that “there is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this litigation.” This despite the fact that Lerner had been in possession of a government-issued Blackberry since November 2009, according to the statement of Thomas J. Kane – deputy associate chief counsel for procedure and administration within the IRS Office of Chief Counsel – and it would likely have hosted at least some of Lerner’s electronic communications….(read more)
This is a rather stunning admission: Justice Department attorneys have acknowledged that there are not, and have never been, any missing Lois Lerner e-mails. Judicial Watch, which has been pressing the IRS and the Obama administration for the Lerner e-mails in its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, has just released this statement by JW president Tom Fitton:
Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system...(read more)
We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan.
This is a jaw-dropping revelation…(read more)
The press release is here…
Tom Fitton discussing the new revelation
Via Judicial Watch:
Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.
We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan.
This is a jaw-dropping revelation…(read more)
Here is the second set of sworn declarations by IRS officials in response to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s investigation into the missing emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials. The declarations were provided after close of business on Friday, August 22. Read the rest of this entry »
Lois Lerner Called Conservatives ‘Assholes,’ Fantasized About Working At Obama Group
“Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP. The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.”
“So we don’t need to worry about teRroists [sic]. It’s our own crazies that will take us down,” Lerner wrote in a Nov. 9, 2012 email exchange with an IRS colleague.
Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp revealed the emails in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Lerner’s disdain for the right is central to an investigation into whether she targeted conservative groups who were seeking tax-exempt status. Republicans have accused the former director of the IRS’s exempt organizations division of possible criminal wrongdoing in targeting the groups.
“Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many assholes.”
— Lois Lerner
“This email shows that Ms. Lerner’s mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives,” Camp wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
“There is an issue as to whether or not there is a ‑‑ that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the 6‑month retention schedule.”
— IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane
For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports: IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane said in transcribed congressional testimony that more IRS officials experienced computer crashes, bringing the total number of crash victims to “less than 20,” and also said that the agency does not know if the lost emails are stillbacked up somewhere.
“So some of those backup tapes may still exist?”
“I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but it’s an issue that’s being looked at.”
WASHINGTON (AP/ Breitbart) reports: The Justice Department is investigating the circumstances behind the disappearance of emails from a former senior Internal Revenue Service official, part of a broader criminal inquiry into whether the agency had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, according to congressional testimony released Wednesday.
In a statement to be delivered to a congressional committee on Thursday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole says investigators are looking into emails that went missing from the computer of Lois Lerner.
Cole was to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been investigating the matter. He declined to provide additional information about the investigation, according to prepared remarks issued ahead of his appearance.
The IRS has said it lost the emails in 2011 when Lerner’s computer crashed. At the time, Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. Read the rest of this entry »
The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross reports that the Federal Election Commission recycled the computer hard drive of April Sands — a former co-worker of Lois Lerner’s — hindering an investigation into Sands’ partisan political activities, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Dear every single Republican ever, When will U learn that Barack Hussein Obama is simply smarter than U? Stand down, Signed #Obama2012 #p2”
— April Sands, former co-worker of Lois Lerner
Sands resigned from the Federal Election Commission in April after she admitted to violating the Hatch Act, which bars executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activities on federal time and at federal facilities.
The twist is that Sands also worked under Lois Lerner when the ex-IRS agent — who is currently embroiled in a scandal over the targeting of conservative political groups — worked at the FEC’s enforcement division.
In a letter to FEC chairman Lee Goodman, Oversight chairman Darrell Issa and committee member Jim Jordan laid out Sands’ partisan activities and asked for records pertaining to the recycling of her hard drive and of the agency’s records retention policies.
“The bias in these messages is striking, especially for an attorney charged with the responsibility to enforce federal election laws fairly and dispassionately.”
— Oversight letter to Goodman
Sands took part in a heavily partisan online webcam discussion from FEC offices and also operated a Twitter account with the handle @ReignOfApril which were sent during Sands’ normal working hours. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Washington Post, mirroring punditfromanotherplanet‘s favorite ongoing theme, Ed Rogers writes: Anyone paying attention to the Internal Revenue Service scandal has been waiting for the next smidgen to drop. Well, two more hit pretty hard this week. At the president’s next encounter with the media, I will scream collusion if no one asks him for his exact definition of a “smidgen,” and if he thinks he has seen a smidgen of corruption yet. At this point, only the most gullible or culpable can continue to claim there is no compelling evidence in this case. Given the delays,lies and stonewalling, there is no viable argument against a special prosecutor.
“This is a smoking gun e-mail in that it makes plain she had a cover-up in mind. There is no other plausible explanation.”
Who knows how many of her colleagues and allies are breathing a sigh of relief upon learning that their e-mails to Lerner were destroyed and their instant messages not recorded? I think Lerner must have a sizable silent cheering section in Washington; people who are rooting for her to hang tough in pleading the Fifth and hoping that she does not go wobbly on them.
[Also see Jazz Shaw‘s commentary – The Lerner Files: “smidgens upon smidgens” of corruption]
I’ll bet her government retirement check is one check that never gets lost in the mail or delayed. Read the rest of this entry »
Via NRO staff:
For National Review Online, Andrew Johnson writes: Lois Lerner isn’t to blame for the loss of thousands of emails sent during the period of the IRS’s alleged targeting of conservative groups, according to her attorney…
“The truth is this was one of those things that happened — at the time she did everything she could to retrieve it.”
Appearing on State of the Union, William Taylor explained that Lerner’s computer screen “went blue” one day, and ultimately resulted in her losing all of her emails during a two-year span.
“That’s the story — that’s all there is to it.”
For Breitbart.com, Robert Wilde reports: Although former IRS official Lois Lerner refuses to speak, pleading the fifth amendment, her attorney spoke on her behalf regarding the controversy over two years of missing IRS emails.
“It’s a little brazen to think she did this on purpose.”
— Lois Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor III
William Taylor III said that accusations by Republicans that she is hiding something is “silly… she doesn’t know what happened… It’s a little brazen to think she did this on purpose.”
The IRS and Democrats contend that the emails were lost due to a hard drive crash. Yet, as Politico reported, it so happens that the computer glitch was concomitant with the 2009 time period in which Cincinnati IRS agents started delaying the approvals of Tea Party groups vying for 501(c)(4) non-profit status. Notably, the not-for- profit designation would have allowed the conservative groups the capacity to carry out a limited amount of political activity. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Republican Congressman: Lerner Should Have Known She Was Obliged by Law to Preserve Her E-mailsPosted: June 24, 2014
For NRO, Molly Wharton writes: The IRS “did not follow the law” by not notifying the National Archives and Records Administration when they lost Lois Lerner’s e-mails, U.S. Archivist David Ferriero said.
During an IRS investigation hearing on Tuesday morning, Representative Tim Walberg (R., Mich.) questioned Ferriero about whether the IRS broke the Federal Records Act, which requires that if agencies become aware of unauthorized destruction of federal records, they report the incident to the archives…(read more) National Review Online
For RealClearPolitics, Carl M. Cannon writes: In 2007, while co-writing a magazine piece with Silicon Valley author and entrepreneur Michael S. Malone on best Information Age practices for politicians, I coined a phrase Malone instantly dubbed “the Cannon Codicil.”
“…mismanaging emails and thinking you’ve lost them forever are two different animals…”
Postulating that electronic messages, like diamonds, last for forever, Cannon’s codicil simply holds that “Nothing digital ever dies.”
“…most, if not all, of the missing emails from Lois Lerner and her six IRS comrades with their fried hard drives have presumably been preserved elsewhere.”
Although inspired by the water torture Democrats were then inflicting on Karl Rove over his missing Republican National Committee emails, mostly I was being metaphysical. But now, with the Internal Revenue Service claiming it has lost tens of thousands of emails from Lois Lerner and six of her IRS subordinates, the question in Washington is whether such a thing is technologically possible.
“There is no such thing as completely disappeared emails.”
The interest in those emails is not academic. Lerner is the former government official who oversaw the division in the IRS that was apparently targeting conservative non-profits for stalling and harassment. “I did nothing wrong,” she testified before Congress, but that’s about all she’d say. Lerner deflected further inquiry by invoking the 5th Amendment privilege against incriminating herself in criminal wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »
UPDATE: For National Review Online, Eliana Johnson writes: It’s not just Lois Lerner’s e-mails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.
The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.
The revelation about Lerner’s e-mails rekindled the targeting scandal and today’s news has further inflamed Republicans. Read the rest of this entry »
“The scale of the wrongdoing is staggering.”
Even a small child can connect these dots.
For National Review Online, David French writes: The IRS is announcing the “loss” of mass numbers of e-mails (do they have any computers that don’t crash?) even as the e-mails that do exist are beginning to show the extent of IRS corruption. Let’s take this exchange (previously uncovered by Judicial Watch) between Lois Lerner, the director of exempt organizations at the IRS, and Nikole Flax, then the IRS commissioner’s chief of staff. (To be clear, these are not “low level” employees.)
“Targeting Americans for criminal investigation without evidence, attempting to enlist multiple federal agencies in the effort, selective audits, selective disclosures of confidential documents, selective questioning and delays of nonprofit applicants — all in the service of suppressing dissent.”
First, here’s Lerner on May 8, 2013, literally two days before last year’s fake apology for IRS tea-party targeting:
I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ. I know him from contacts from my days there. He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s could talk to about [Rhode Island Democrat] Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large vis ible political expenditures. 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.
I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS. I am out of town all next week, so wanted to reach out and see who you think would be right for such a meeting and also hand this off to Nan as contact person if things need to happen while I am gone –
Translation: The Obama Justice Department was reaching out to the Obama IRS to see if it could “piece together” prosecutions of nonprofits even before any evidence of wrongdoing emerged. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claimed Friday that it cannot produce Lois Lerner’s emails to and from the White House and other administration departments due to a supposed computer crash.
The IRS previously agreed to hand over all of the ex-IRS official’s emails from 2009 to 2011 to the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Camp. But the IRS claimed Friday that it has Lerner’s emails to and from other IRS officials but it cannot produce emails to and from the Treasury and Justice Departments, the Federal Election Commission, or Democratic offices.
“Just a short time ago, Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents,” Camp continued. “It appears now that was an empty promise.”
— Rep. Dave Camp
Giving it to you straight, is Mediaite:
The House of Representatives voted 231-187 tonight to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, weeks after the House Oversight Committee voted to bring the contempt charge to the House floor. The point of contention is whether Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights during hearings into IRS political targeting. In addition to the contempt charge, last month the House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer Lerner to the Justice Department for a possible investigation into criminal charges.
Written by Jeremy W. Peters, it’s crafted to be the least upsetting to their Tea-Party hating readers. It’s meant to reassure them that it’s not a real hearing, about real crimes, it’s 100% political, lead by mean, witch-hunting, conspiracy-deranged Republicans, against innocent, law-abiding, hard-working servants of the people. Thank goodness it’s not about Lois Lerner’s accountability, or abuses against citizens by the IRS.
It includes this photo of an “angry-looking” Republican white male:
Here’s some choice quotes:
“Democrats invoked former Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and delusions of widespread conspiracy.”
This is one of those days where I think Matt Drudge is imitating my obsessions, rather than the other way around. Wishful thinking, I know. But readers here know, Lois Lerner is our favorite voodoo doll. At punditfromanotherplanet, a day without Lois Lerner is a day without sunshine.
For the Washington Examiner, Joel Gehrke reports: House Ways and Means Committee Republicans aren’t ruling out the use of the chamber’s “inherent contempt” authority if Attorney General Eric Holder refuses to act on the panel’s accusations against former IRS official Lois Lerner.
The committee voted Wednesday to seek an investigation of whether Lerner violated federal law by using her power to ensure Right-leaning groups were targeted for extra scrutiny by the agency, giving misleading information during a probe of the matter by the Treasury Department‘s inspector general and using her personal email to conduct official business, which could have resulted in the disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.
Congress votes Lerner in contempt of Congress, refers prosecution to Attorney General who Congress voted in contempt of Congress
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) April 9, 2014
“The Ways and Means Committee, led by Chairman [Dave] Camp [R-Mich.], has conducted a serious and thorough investigation of the IRS, uncovering abuses and criminal acts that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said of the referral. “As I’ve said, if Lois Lerner continues to refuse to testify, then the House will hold her in contempt. And we will continue to shine the light on the administration’s abusive actions and use every tool at our disposal to expose the truth and ensure the American people get the answers they deserve.”
“…prior to her decision in favor of voluntarily retiring, Lerner was in danger of being removed from her job due to findings from an IRS inquiry board citing “neglect of duties” and mismanagement…”
Executive vice president for the National Taxpayers Union Pete Sepp reports: Even before she retired, scandalized IRS official Lois Lerner’s compensation was already attracting attention. While on administrative leave, federal rules allowed her to keep collecting a salary, one that reportedly totaled $177,000. So it was no surprise when speculation arose over how much Lerner could collect in federal pension benefits.
Unfortunately, that speculation, which initially projected a benefit of over $50,000, might be off by about half … and in the wrong direction.
National Taxpayers Union calculations show that Lerner could qualify for a starting pension at the annual equivalent of as much as $102,600, and up to $3.96 million over her lifetime.
The individual retirement choices of federal employees are not a matter of public record. However, precisely because NTU has been denied this information in the past (specifically pertaining to Members of Congress), we’ve developed the most accurate method available to provide solid estimates of how much federal employees can collect.
Deirdre Shesgreen reports: Former IRS official Lois Lerner declined to answer any questions Wednesday when she appeared before a House committee investigating the tax agency’s scrutiny of applications from conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
House Republicans summoned Lerner to testify before Congress on Wednesday, more than nine months after she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has argued that she unintentionally waived her right when she answered a question at that hearing.
In response to a series of pointed questions from Issa, Lerner repeatedly said, “On the advice of my counsel, I respectfully exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer that question.”
A former IRS official who refused to answer questions about the agency’s targeting scandal at a hearing last spring is expected to appear before a House committee on Wednesday, but it’s unclear whether she will answer questions this time, either.
Lois Lerner headed the IRS division that improperly targeted tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
After publicly disclosing the targeting, Lerner refused to answer questions about it at a congressional hearing, invoking her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told “Fox News Sunday” he expected Lerner to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. But a committee spokeswoman said Tuesday she could only confirm that Lerner was expected to attend the hearing. Read the rest of this entry »
Issa, House GOP to recall Lois Lerner
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is hauling Lois Lerner back to Congress.
Issa told Lerner’s attorney in a Tuesday letter that he expected the retired IRS official to appear before his committee on March 5.
“Because the committee explicitly rejected her Fifth Amendment privilege claim, I expect her to provide answers when the hearing reconvenes on March 5.”
— Chairman Darrell Issa
Lerner, the official at the center of the IRS targeting controversy, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination at a May 2013 hearing, just days after she apologized for the agency’s treatment of Tea Party groups.
See “Sit Down, Bitch, We’re Not Done Yet (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
But the Oversight Committee later ruled that Lerner waived her rights by making an opening statement, setting the stage for her recall next week.
Lloyd Marcus writes: How many times must we see this movie before realizing that the ending never changes? Act one: An Obama Administration official is found to be incompetent, grossly negligent, or caught blatantly and arrogantly lying to the American people.
Act two: Media and pundits express their outrage and proclaim that the guilty official’s head will surely roll. Confidently, they predict that it is only a matter of time before [fill in the blank] is forced to resign.
Act three: The scandal gradually falls off the media and the public’s radar. The once thought to be doomed Administration official remains on the government payroll, is moved to another position or simply continues on as if nothing ever happened without consequence. No accountability. We all move on.
Talk about deja vu all over again, Kathleen Sebelius is the latest in the growing list of Obama Administration officials who when caught wrongdoing simply politically give the American people the finger. The roll-out of Obamacare has been a disaster.
Arrogantly, Sebelius has refused to accept responsibility for her gross incompetence, even attempting to pass the blame on to the public and Republicans. Further poking her finger in our eye, Sebelius boldly announced that she does not work for We The People.
Please allow me to refresh your memory about a few earlier arrogant Obama Administration untouchables.