TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1554: Why Is Trump's Justice Department Still Fighting Disclosure Of Documents Revealing IRS Targeting Of Conservative Groups?

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Obama IRS Abuse Should Unite Trump and Sessions, by Jerome Marcus:

[H]ere’s an issue on which Messrs. Trump and Sessions should be able to find common ground: The Justice Department should stop defending Obama administration corruption.

I’m referring to the cases, still on file today, challenging or seeking to expose Internal Revenue Service policies that delayed applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups. That’s viewpoint discrimination, a clear First Amendment violation.

The Obama Justice Department fought these cases intensely. It tried to get them thrown out of court before the plaintiffs had the chance to gather evidence. When that failed, Justice lawyers resisted discovery, to prevent disclosure of documents showing what the Obama administration was really doing.

That’s normal behavior for a defendant in a lawsuit. But since Jan. 20, the Justice Department has reported to Mr. Trump, who denounced each of the corrupt policies at issue in these cases.

So why is the department handling the cases as if it were still run by Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch? Because many of the career lawyers who were put on these cases by Obama Justice Department officials continue working on them, with no supervision from this administration. Those lawyers are still doing now what they have always done: fighting as hard as they can to prevent disclosure of what the Obama IRS, and the rest of the Obama administration, was doing to the country. ...

The government lawyers in all these cases are working hard to prevent anyone from finding out what the Obama administration was doing. Cleta Mitchell, who has represented tea-party organizations in the IRS viewpoint-targeting scandal, says Justice Department lawyers “have been stalling, obfuscating and doing all they can in these cases to avoid holding the IRS accountable.”

That’s true even though all these lawyers now work for President Trump. And it’s true even though Mr. Trump knows full well that the Obama IRS violated the Constitution by discriminating against opposing viewpoints. ...

Messrs. Trump and Sessions, as well as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, should all be able to agree on this. The executive branch, through the Justice Department, can on its own agree to release the desired information and end these cases, without any permission from Congress or CNN. That would lighten the workload at Justice and shine sunlight on clearly improper Obama policies.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/08/the-irs-scandal-day-1554-why-is-trumps-justice-department-still-fighting-disclosure-of-documents-rev.html

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Comments

The Obama admin also lied about evidence, destroyed evidence, lied about the destruction, lied about what wasn't destroyed, and used secret emails to operate a shadow government to prevent accountability. Plus a whole lot more.

Posted by: wodun | Aug 10, 2017 7:35:04 PM

It would be nice for AG Sessions and the new FBI head to show up and do right.... Are Trump's men too busy to handle the biggest and longest DOJ scandal in history?

Who said that "Justice delayed is justice denied?"

Posted by: Orson | Aug 11, 2017 12:26:20 AM

Justice Department lawyers do not work for the president. They work for the United States. "So why is the department handling the cases as if it were still run by Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch?" Because the law didn't change on January 1, 2017. 26 U.S.C. 6103 is still on the books.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Aug 11, 2017 6:09:05 AM

"26 U.S.C. 6103 is still on the books."

Confidentiality for the DOJ and IRS, of course. Not for the non-profit groups targeted, of course. They had their tax returns disclosed en masse, which was unauthorized by the statute, for a fishing expedition that netted no crimes reported publically to date.

And Pubs called Congressional oversight a witch hunt. I guess if you like it when the DOJ and IRS target groups you politically disagree with, or the President for that matter, witch hunts are perfectly fine!

Posted by: MM | Aug 11, 2017 7:38:08 AM

Sorry Mr. MM. I must have made a mistake. I didn't know 26 U.S.C. provided confidentiality for the DOJ and IRS. I though it was intended to protect the privacy of American taxpayers. My bad.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Aug 13, 2017 2:24:17 PM