More emails “lost” from Lerner’s IRS colleagues during crucial period of Congressional scrutiny
On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp dropped another bombshell into the simmering IRS-targeting-conservatives scandal. This new information comes on the heels of Friday’s announcement by Camp that the IRS had only “lost” Lois Lerner’s emails. Lerner is at the center of the IRS scandal and potential cover-up.
In addition to Lois Lerner’s emails, the IRS cannot produce records from six other IRS employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups. One of those figures is Nikole Flax, who served as Chief of Staff to Steve Miller, who at the time of the targeting was Deputy Commissioner and would later serve as Acting Commissioner of the IRS – a position from which he was fired for his role in the targeting of conservative groups. The timeframe for which Ms. Flax’s communications are purportedly unrecoverable covers when the Washington, DC office wrote and directed the Cincinnati field office to send abusive questionnaires, including inappropriate demands for donor information, to conservative groups.
Camp and Boustany also uncovered that the IRS has been keeping secret for months the fact that the Agency lost these critical records. Ways and Means investigators have confirmed that the Agency first knew of the destroyed emails as early as February 2014 – nearly three months prior to newly installed Commissioner John Koskinen telling the Committee the IRS would produce all of Lois Lerner’s emails.
John Ekdahl, from Ace of Spades, noted on Twitter that Flax was a frequent visitor to The White House during this same time.
Nikole Flax, whose emails the IRS “lost”, sure visited the White House a lot. pic.twitter.com/T7PAp1KSsr
— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) June 17, 2014
Also this week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Darrel Issa (R-CA) released a report suggesting that President Barack Obama and other top Democrats encouraged the IRS to investigate conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.
The Committee’s investigation shows that the IRS targeting was political. It was political in both its genesis and its effect. The IRS targeting was the result of political pressure on the agency to “fix the problem” of nonprofit political speech. This political pressure was generated by campaign-style rhetoric from President Obama and his allies in opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and so-called “shadowy” groups “posing” as nonprofits. As a result of the IRS targeting, hundreds of tax-exempt applicants were singled out for scrutiny on undeniably political grounds – that is, that they intended to engage in political speech.
Even before this week’s new revelations, the Washington chattering class had begun to turn on The White House as the result of Lerner’s “missing” emails.
On Friday, just as the news of the Lerner emails broke, Ron Fournier of National Review called for a special prosecutor to take charge of the investigation.
A sloppy mistake, the government calls it, but you couldn’t blame a person for suspecting a cover-up—the loss of an untold number of emails to and from the central figure in the IRS tea-party controversy. And because the public’s trust is a fragile gift that the White House has frittered away in a series of second-term missteps, President Obama needs to act.
If the IRS can’t find the emails, maybe a special prosecutor can.
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.
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit wrote in the USA Today yesterday that he’s not sure a special prosecutor will ever be named by this Justice Department.
Special prosecutors are lawyers who don’t work for the Justice Department, appointed to investigate matters where the Justice Department itself cannot be relied upon to be entirely fair. But they are still appointed by the Justice Department’s head, the attorney general. And I have absolutely no confidence that Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor unless subjected to unimaginable political pressure — and, even then, he’d be likely to name a politically safe apparatchik who would simply run out the clock until Obama’s term ends.
Reynolds’ advice to Congress: if individuals cannot be punished for targeting conservative groups and destroying evidence, then punish the entire Internal Revenue Service.
The question that most people have pondered since Friday: just how can these emails from only one (now six) individuals at the IRS go completely missing for the exact timeframe in question by Congressional committees? It seems to defy logic and technological standards.
Sharyl Attkinsson lays out a series of questions that she thinks the IRS needs to answer to resolve the technical matter of the “lost” emails.
Federal law requires that all emails be backed up and the IRS guidance on the matter requires emails be stored on paper as backup documentation.
The House Oversight Committee issued its second subpoena in two days to the IRS. Tuesday’s subpoena is for documents related to “lost” emails dated from January 2009 to January 2011 to and from Lois Lerner.
Cleta Mitchell, one of the key lawyers defending conservative groups targeted by the IRS, spoke to FOX News’ Megyn Kelly about the latest developments last night.DONATE
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