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.”
Best Excuse to Avoid Being Sworn in, Give Testimony: Lois Lerner’s Lawyer Whines to Darrell Issa ‘My Client is Facing Threats’Posted: March 3, 2014
“Ms. Lerner has been the subject of numerous threats on her life and safety, and on the life and safety of her family,” her lawyer William Taylor III wrote to Issa on Wednesday morning in a letter obtained by POLITICO…
“Oh, yes, well, that changes everything, definitely. You’re right. She doesn’t have to obey the same laws the rest of us do. Lois? You can go home, it’s okay, you don’t have to testify.”
Lois Lerner, the official involved in the IRS‘s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups, will testify before Congress on Wednesday, according to House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa.
“We believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her, in her best interest, to be someone who should testify.”
Lerner had previously invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions from members of Congress about her role in the IRS scandal.
Frances Martel reports: The attorney heading the internal investigation into potential unfair targeting of conservative groups by the IRS is a frequent and significant donor to both the Democratic National Commission and President Obama, Rep. Darrell Issa revealed today, in what he calls a “startling conflict of interest” that jeopardizes the investigation.
Rep. Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter today to Attorney General Eric Holder revealing new information that reached the committee on who is conducting the internal investigations at the IRS regarding the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups. Seeking an explanation as to why the FBI has been unresponsive to the committee, Rep. Issa noted that current and former IRS officials revealed Barbara Bosserman, a trial attorney within the IRS’s Civil Rights Commission, is leading the internal investigation.
Bosserman’s leadership raises all sorts of questions about the investigation’s fairness. Rep. Issa’s investigations revealed that she has been a loyal financial backer of the DNC since 2004 and has donated multiple times personally to President Obama’s two campaigns. Her personal donation total reaches $6,750 to both the party and President Obama.
Patrick Howley reports: Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller.
Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.
Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.
The emails provided to Oversight investigators by the IRS had numerous redactions with the signifier “6103.”
Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code forbids a federal employee from “disclos[ing] any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”
Federal employees who illegally disclose confidential taxpayer information could face five years in prison. Read the rest of this entry »
CJ Ciaramella writes: Senior Internal Revenue Service officials—including one at the heart of the IRS “targeting” scandal—violated agency policies and possibly federal records laws by using private email to send confidential taxpayer information, the GOP-led House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in a letter.
In a Sept. 30 letter to IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel obtained by the Free Beacon, Oversight Chairman Darrel Issa (R., Calif.) said an investigation revealed a “troubling pattern” of at least four top IRS officials using their private email addresses to relay confidential tax information. Read the rest of this entry »
Stephen Dinan reports: The Internal Revenue Service said Monday that Lois G. Lerner, the woman at the center of the tea party targeting scandal, has resigned from the agency — though because of privacy rules it could say nothing more.
Ms. Lerner, who had been on paid administrative leave, was the director of the division that reviewed the applications for tax-exempt status from political groups over the past few years and that, according to an internal audit, gave extra scrutiny to tea party and other conservative groups.
She remains subject to congressional investigation.
Her actions put her at the center of the controversy, and several congressional committees had been looking into her behavior and into emails that seemed to suggest she was looking for reasons to deny political groups approval for tax-exempt status.
Last week, acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said he had asked both a review board and the agency’s inspector general to look at the emails.
Republicans said Ms. Lerner’s resignation, while a first step, isn’t the end of the scandal. Read the rest of this entry »
Critics of the White House’s underhanded ‘War on Dissent’ have the impulse to say “I told you so”, because, well, we told you so. We’ve been saying this since the IRS investigation first began. There is no secret “direct order” from the White House. There didn’t need to be. Instead, it’s been fed into the media stream right over the airwaves, from the bully pulpit; the podiums, press conferences, news shows, radio broadcasts, podcasts, repeated by talking heads, White House surrogates, and from blunt, suggestive language by the president himself. And the signals are received, by sympathetic actors inside the gears of government (I.R.S.) and inside organs of media (Washington Post) and acted on. That’s how it’s done.
Patrick Howley writes: The Washington Post’s anti-tea party coverage inspired IRS officials to improperly target conservative groups, according to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee memo.
“The IRS first identified and elevated the Tea Party applications due to media attention surrounding the Tea Party…Media attention caused the IRS to treat conservative-oriented tax-exempt applications differently,” according to a September 17 House Oversight memo entitled “Interim update on the Committee’s investigation of the Internal Revenue Service’s inappropriate treatment of tax-exempt applications.” Read the rest of this entry »
Rep. Darrell Issa Has Information That Will Link IRS Scandal Up Into the White House
via COMMON CENTS
Since the IRS targeting scandal began, top IRS brass has maintained that this very politically convenient suppression of conservative non-profit groups’ applications was the work of a few low-level employees in the Cincinnati IRS office. But those provincial IRS employees have offered a very different story under questioning from the House Oversight committee staff.
House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., posted partial transcripts today from two of the interviews, in which all names are redacted. Although the Cincinnati employees’ denials should be taken with a grain of salt (like all the other IRS officials’ denials), these two interviews both point the finger back at the IRS in Washington — which is consistent with other accounts that both the conservative and mainstream press has unearthed.
One of the low-level employees said that the Washington office was “basically throwing us underneath the bus” for an operation they had ordered and directed. And an employee described as being more senior said that he viewed the entire project as unfair and was so worried about being blamed for it later that he actually applied for another job in the summer of 2010. “I didn’t want my name in the paper for being this rogue agent for a project I had no control over,” the more senior employee said.
This should make for some good hearings in the near future.
Follow the link for a partial transcript released by the committee:
The Internal Revenue Service is in the process of locking down all computer data across the agency, a sign that investigations into the scandal-plagued agency may be taking a broader sweep than initially anticipated.
Agency employees last Thursday received an e-mail alerting them, “This is a late breaking top priority and things could change in the future,” according to an IRS employee who asked not to be named.
Employees were directed not to “wipe, re-image or otherwise destroy any hard drives” on any machine currently in use or in stock. During this time, the IRS will not discard any laptop and desktop computers that are replaced, and it is “working on securing a location” where they will be kept, according to the e-mail.
National Review Online previously reported that data on computer hard drives in the Tax Exempt and Government Entity division in Cincinnati was being preserved and uploaded to a restriccted server where investigators can access it.
Four government probes are currently investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups; they are being led by the House Oversight Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the IRS itself.
via The Corner
Darrel Issa: Lerner Waived Her 5th Amendment Rights By Offering Her Claims Before Invoking Her Right to SilencePosted: May 22, 2013
What I expect is that she will be forced to invoke the 5th for each of a series of pointed questions, such as her previous refusal to investigate an illegal Al Gore donor, and her previous hardline stance against Christian organizations. As well, of course, about her complicity in the IRS scandal.
She will look very bad doing so.
I didn’t know the law on this and Allah recaps it at the link: While you may not selectively invoke the 5th in a criminal trial, you probably can at a Congressional hearing, so she won’t be held in contempt.
She will, however, be made to look awful, which sounds about right.
via Ace of Spades HQ.
Top IRS official will invoke 5th Amendment. “A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups. Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening — or why she didn’t disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.” She’s lawyered-up, and not just with any lawyer, either.
UPDATE: “Look forward to reading tomorrow’s pieces explaining how GOP is overplaying hand by pointing out that Lerner is pleading 5th.” No scandal here — she just doesn’t want to talk because telling the truth might incriminate her…