On Wednesday the House of Representatives charged former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner (shown in photo) with contempt of Congress, and then voted minutes later to ask the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the targeting scandal centered (so far) around Lerner.
The first vote passed 231-187 with every Republican and six disaffected Democrats voting for contempt. The second vote passed 250-168 with two dozen Democrats supporting the appointment of a special prosecutor.
The issues now arrive at the desk of Washington, DC’s US attorney, Ronald Machen who, under federal law, has the duty to take the case to a grand jury. Machen’s office said “We will carefully review the report from the Speaker of the House and take whatever action is appropriate.”
Instead, Machen, an Obama appointee, is likely to let the case disappear down the memory hole, hoping that American citizens will soon forget all about the scandal, just as they appear to have forgotten about a similar contempt charge brought by the House against Attorney General Eric Holder in his gun-running scandal. This, by the way, is the first time that a sitting Attorney General has ever been charged by the House with a contempt of Congress citation.
Lerner’s lies and dissembling date back a year ago when she appeared before Rep. Darrell Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. On May 21, she read a short statement denying any implication in the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups for special “attention” when applying for tax-exempt status, and then proceeded to claim immunity under the Fifth Amendment.
Just days beforehand she, with the assistance of her boss, Joseph Grant, arranged to plant a question in the audience of members of the American Bar Association whom she was addressing, giving her the chance to get ahead of the report due out in a few days from the Inspector General implicating the IRS in the targeting scandal. At the time Lerner responded to the planted question that she was “apologetic” for what she termed “absolutely inappropriate” actions by the agency. She further claimed that such close scrutiny of groups that sounded patriotic in their titles was ordered by a few agents in the Cincinnati IRS office, calling them “front line people” operating on their own with no connection to upper levels of the agency.
Evidence that has surfaced since then has shown that Lerner had been informed nearly two years earlier, and that other offices than just Cincinnati were also targeting conservative groups.
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