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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 405

IRS Logo 2USA Today op-ed:  Obama's Double Asterisks on IRS, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee):

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." 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.

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

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. ...

Targeting Americans is unforgivable; covering it up is worse, and if the IRS has made it impossible to target the individuals responsible, then the IRS as a whole should pay the price. That's not an ideal solution, but such misbehavior should not go unpunished.

Los Angeles Times:  The IRS Email Scandal: Where's the Outrage?, by Jonah Goldberg:

Congressional investigators are fuming over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy."

That's the opening sentence of the Associated Press' story on the IRS' claim that it lost an unknown number of emails over two years relating to the agency's alleged targeting of political groups hostile to the president.

But note how the AP casts the story: The investigators — Republican lawmakers — are outraged. 

Is it really so hard to imagine that if this were a Republican administration, the story wouldn't be the frustration of partisan critics of the president? It would be all about that administration's behavior. With the exception of National Journal's Ron Fournier, who called for a special prosecutor to bypass the White House's "stonewalling," and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, it's hard to find a non-conservative journalist who thinks this is a big deal.

Wall Street Journal editorial:  IRS Contempt of Congress:  The Agency Now Admits It Didn't Fully Comply With Subpoenas:

The IRS is now telling Congress that it has lost the emails of no fewer than seven IRS employees central to the targeting of conservative nonprofits, though that's only half the outrage. There's also the IRS's quiet admission that it has spent most of the past year willfully defying Congress.

After informing Congress on Friday that it can't find two years of email from former Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp revealed Tuesday that the IRS can't produce records for six more employees whose hard drives also supposedly failed. These six happen to have been central to the IRS crackdown on conservative groups, and the lost emails were sent when the targeting took place, including in 2010 and 2011. The six include Nicole Flax, former chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. ...

[T]he IRS has from the start been picking and choosing which of Ms. Lerner's emails it deigned to show Congress. And it did so despite knowing that Congress wanted everything. This IRS filter has delayed the investigation and denied Congress access to important information.

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