TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1574: Why Are Trump’s Justice Department Appointees Protecting The IRS?

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Why Are Trump’s Justice Department Appointees Protecting the IRS?

Various media sources have reported that federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton has ordered the IRS to finally respond to various legal requests for information and documents made by the conservative tea party organizations that sued the agency.

But the question that no one is asking is why that order was even necessary, and why the Justice Department, which is now supposedly under the control and authority of the new administration, hasn’t reversed its obstinate, inflexible, and stubborn defense of the IRS. ...

[T]he Tax Division of the Justice Department, which is currently headed by acting Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert, has put up a mulish fight defending the IRS, including doing everything it can to prevent the IRS from having to provide any of the information and documentation that the plaintiffs are seeking about the targeting.

[T]he IRS — after four years of delays — is going to finally have to tell us who (in addition to Lerner) planned, organized, and participated in the abuse of the government’s tax power to target Americans for their participation in the political process, their opposition to Obama and liberal policies, and their support for the Constitution and the rule of law.

Walton’s order is a significant victory for the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. But why were this hearing and this order even necessary in the first place?

As soon as President Donald Trump was inaugurated and the first members of the Trump transition team landed at the Justice Department, one of the first steps they should have taken was to order the Tax Division to stop its deliberate litigation strategy of fighting all attempts to ferret out what exactly happened at the IRS, and who was responsible for it.

Instead, the Justice Department has continued to obstruct discovery in this lawsuit that has been going on for four long years, resulting in Walton’s Aug. 17 order against the IRS and the Justice Department. ...

What are the political appointees at the Justice Department doing? Why are they continuing to protect the IRS? Why are they trying to stop the efforts to find out who at the IRS was responsible for this abusive behavior?

And while we are on the subject of the IRS scandal, why haven’t Trump’s political appointees at the Justice Department reversed the refusal of Ronald Machen, former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, (who was an Obama appointee) to enforce the contempt citation issued by the House of Representatives against Lerner for her refusal to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating this abusive conduct?

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/08/the-irs-scandal-day-1574-why-are-trumps-justice-department-appointees-protecting-the-irs.html

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Comments

Maybe because shutting it down comes with a downside? Attacking and talking about the IRS as if this part of the US government was a person opens up for some entertaining rhetoric games, but are completly pointless if you want to have a better IRS.

Posted by: GSo | Aug 30, 2017 1:45:49 AM

But the punishment should be of individuals, not the Service. So long as the Service shields individuals, it brings the antagonism on itself. No government agency is so above the law that it can be allowed to shield lawbreakers. Government is not Too Big To Fail. And it clearly needs reminding of that.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Aug 31, 2017 10:11:16 AM

“[W]hy haven’t Trump’s political appointees at the Justice Department reversed the refusal of Ronald Machen, former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia . . . to enforce the contempt citation issued by the House of Representatives against [Lois] Lerner for her refusal to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating this abusive conduct?” This is an excellent question, worthy of an answer. This single act would probably be the most efficient and productive way to either put this thing to rest or get to the proverbial bottom of it. Of course, one snarky answer to this question, at least as posed by The Daily Signal, is that the president–for reasons not readily apparent-- has not seen fit to nominate or pursue confirmation of a U.S. Attorney for D.C.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 1, 2017 9:02:10 AM