TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1681: Robert Mueller And Lois Lerner

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Let Mueller Keep Digging, by William McGurn:

At a moment when the special counsel’s team is busy calling its own fairness and impartiality into question, why would Donald Trump even think of firing Robert Mueller?

When the special counsel picked his team, almost half the lawyers he selected had donated to Hillary Clinton. Legally that may not be disqualifying. It was, however, highly imprudent for a man presiding over the nation’s most sensitive investigation. Not a single Mueller prosecutor had contributed to Mr. Trump.

Those donations now provide the context for more recent revelations about the partisan preferences of Team Mueller. ...

These developments, alas, have encouraged two horrible responses from Republicans. The first is the call for Mr. Trump to sack Mr. Mueller, an idea news reports say is gaining traction inside the White House. The other is for a new special counsel to investigate the existing special counsel.

Either would make a bad situation worse. ...

Then there’s Congress, which has been rightly frustrated to find the Trump Justice Department as obstructionist as the Obama Justice Department. In testimony last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray advanced the extraordinary claim he can hold back information from the elected representatives of the American people on the grounds that it is classified or that he’s waiting for an inspector general’s report and so, presumably, should they.

The message for Congress is this: Why should an FBI director take you seriously when you don’t take yourselves seriously? During the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner rode off into the sunset without testifying because Congress allowed the Obama Justice Department to determine her fate. Ditto for John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner who happily served out his time when Congress should have impeached him for his falsehoods and obstructionism.

n its 1821 decision affirming the right of the House to hold people in contempt and jail them, the Supreme Court noted that depriving Congress of this authority would mean “the total annihilation of the power of the House of Representatives” to prevent people from just flipping it the bird. Isn’t that just what government officials from Ms. Lerner to Mr. Wray have been doing?

If executive branch officials continue to play games with subpoenas, Congress needs to give them a taste of the legislature’s powers, whether by cutting agency budgets, impeaching directors or holding uncooperative officials in contempt. In this regard it’s good to know Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is still pursuing contempt citations for Mr. Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. A contempt vote by the full House would of course depend on Speaker Paul Ryan, who complained in October about FBI “stonewalling.”

So forget firings and new special prosecutors. Let the president use his executive authority to make public the evidence that would tell the American people what really happened. And let Congress start acting like the coequal branch of government the Founders intended—and get to the bottom of a story that involves the legitimacy of the presidency, the 2016 election and our federal institutions.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/12/the-irs-scandal-day-1671-robert-muller-and-lois-lerner.html

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink

Comments

In England in the past, Parliament could sit as the "Court of the Nation". It is time for Congress to reclaim its powers, especially against the bureaucracy.

Posted by: Alex S. Rosser, PhD | Dec 15, 2017 10:10:16 AM

Impeachment would make the weekly cocktail party and other social affairs that all government legislators and senior administrators attend rather awkward, don't you think?

Posted by: ThomasA | Dec 15, 2017 10:24:30 AM

"Let the president use his executive authority to make public the evidence that would tell the American people what really happened."

Which leads one to wonder what level of crap-storm that would unleash, over an above what we already have! Perhaps a horse that no one dares to ride(?) - which is all the more reason that it needs to be done.

Posted by: Steve S | Dec 15, 2017 10:35:30 AM

'Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake' - N. Bonaparte

Posted by: Slam | Dec 15, 2017 2:07:16 PM

The problem with Mueller's team isn't that it is made up of Democrats but that so many of the Democrats on his team were active participants in the corruption of the DOJ by the Obama administration and participated in rigging the investigation into the Clinton's various crimes and misdeeds.

Posted by: wodun | Dec 17, 2017 3:35:18 PM