Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1273:  Harry Reid And James Comey

IRS Logo 2American Thinker, Liar Reid Slams Comey:

Chutzpah has a new poster child and his name is Harry Reid. The man who stood idly by as the IRS used its ultimate power to target the Tea Party and other groups in 2012 in order to reelect President Obama, the man who lied on the Senate floor about GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, now claims that FBI Director James Comey violated the Hatch Act by fulfilling his obligation to notify Congress regarding new evidence in the Hillary email investigation. ...

Harry Reid wasn’t quite so outraged when another government agency with three letters, the IRS, decided to use its power to target and intimidate Tea Party and other conservative groups. As Politico reports, Reid thought groups that merely exercise their right to bind together in common cause to exercise their free speech rights deserved to be targeted and investigated by a politically motivated IRS:

After accusations that the IRS targeted conservative groups unfairly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid argued on Tuesday that some nonprofit organizations are indeed abusing their tax-exempt status.

The Nevada Democrat singled out GOP strategist Karl Rove as an abuser of the system because his tax-exempt group, Crossroads GPS, spent millions on the 2012 election to defeat Democrats….

“His organization, Rove’s organization, [has] one purpose and one purpose only and that’s to defeat Democrats. Anyone who thinks otherwise is being willfully foolish,” Reid said. “Preventing overtly political groups like the ones run by Karl Rove as masquerading as social welfare organizations, is really a critically important tasks.”

Rove’s group was one that several Democrats singled out in 2010, when they asked the IRS to investigate whether they were violating their tax exempt status.

Wasn’t the attempt by Lois Lerner and her cronies, in a scandal that also involved lost or deleted emails, conveniently crashed hard drives, etc. to target conservative groups a political move by government employees to influence an election?

House and Senate Democrats, it has been documented, often sent letters to the IRS asking that particularly successful and annoying groups be investigated. As Investor’s Business Daily noted:

Senate Democrats, including supporters of the Disclose Act, provided the names of groups they wanted targeted in a taxpayer-funded witch hunt overseen by an IRS employee and Obama campaign donor.

Using the Citizens United case as a pretext, retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., on July 27, 2012, wrote IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to investigate 12 conservative groups he accused of violating their tax-exempt status and engaging in coordinated political activity.

The groups Levin asked to be targeted for special scrutiny were Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, Priorities U.S.A., Americans Elect, American Action Network, Americans for Prosperity, American Future Fund, Americans for Tax Reform, 60 Plus Association, Patriot Majority USA, Club for Growth, Citizens for a Working America Inc. and the Susan B. Anthony List. ...

Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire; Tom Udall, New Mexico; and Al Franken, Minnesota; sent a similar letter to Shulman in February 2012, asking the IRS to investigate tax-exempt groups they believed were engaged in political activities. So did retiring Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., in 2010 and House Democrats in 2012, the Atlantic reported Monday.

And on the House side, Congressional Democrats were hardly reluctant to have the IRS target conservative groups: Coordination by Rep. Elijah Cummings with the IRS to target conservative was also noted by IBD:

Of particular interest to us has been Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on Rep. Darrell Issa's House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, who has made every effort to keep the committee from finding out the true extent of IRS corruption and abuse of power in its targeting of conservatives.

As we've noted, emails released by Issa, a California Republican, show that Cummings' Democratic staff had requested information from the IRS' tax-exempt division, the one headed by Lois Lerner, on True the Vote, a conservative group that monitors polling places for voter fraud and supports the use of voter IDs, something that Cummings opposes.

"The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared, protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings' staff," the Oversight panel said in a statement.

The hypocritical Democrats doth protest too much. They are the ones who have sanctioned abuse by government agencies to influence elections.

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Nothing from Pubs, o.k. he usually doesn't contribute anything useful.

Leaving aside Harry Reid, simultaneously Majority Leader and (unrepentant) Chief Prevaricator, on the Senate floor no less, the President's own hypocrisy on this matter bears scrutiny:

Oct. 2015
President Obama: "I don't think it [Clinton's private server] posed a national security problem... This is not a situation in which American's national security was endangered... I have no evidence at this point, from what I've seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way had a negative impact on our national security." He also said he had no impression that Secretary Clinton had purposely tried "to hide or to squirrel away information."

Dec. 2015
FBI Director James Comey publicly stated that the President has not received any briefings on the Clinton email investigation. As such, the President would have no way of knowing how the inquiry was proceeding, unless officials in the DOJ had leaked the information to the White House.

Apr. 2016
President Obama: "She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy... What I also know is that there's and then there's classified [sic]. There's stuff that is really top secret, and then there's stuff that is being presented to the President, the Secretary of State, you may not want going out over the wire... I continue to believe she has not jeopardized America's national security... I guarantee there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the DOJ or the FBI... Full stop, period, guaranteed."

Nov. 2016
President Obama: "I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don't operate on innuendo... We don't operate on incomplete information. We don't operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made."

And to top it off, just today, another sterling example of DOJ by-the-book :

Peter Kadzik, the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, who was just assigned to investigate reports of new Clinton-related emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop, apparently *leaked* information about the DOJ investigation of Clinton's server in 2015, directly to John Podesta, chairman of Secretary Clinton's campaign, according to Wikileaks.

Kadzik to Podesta: "There is a HJC oversight hearing today where the head of our Civil Division will testify. Likely to get questions on State Department emails... Another filing in the FOIA case went in last night or will go in this am that indicates it will be awhile (2016) before the State Department posts the emails."


- Did the President, who's role as the nation's chief law enforcement officer includes the power to unilaterally pardon anyone for federal crimes, violate any norms by making public statements regarding an ongoing criminal investigation, some of which turned out to be factually wrong?

- What are the norms regarding public statements by a sitting President regarding an ongoing criminal investigation of his preferred successor? Has this every happened before?

- Did his public statements constitute political innuendo with the intent to influence the outcome of an ongoing criminal investigation, as well as the election itself?

- Where did the President get his information regarding the ongoing criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton, if not from Director Comey?

- Why should Director Comey remain silent on the details of an ongoing criminal investigation of a major party candidate while the President himself relayed incomplete information to the public before July 2016 when the FBI briefed the public?

- Do voters have a right to know as much as possible regarding this criminal investigation in advance of the election?

From the POV of the Democratic Party, which is clearly desperate to cling to executive power and now, along with newspapers and media outlets that endorsed Secretary Clinton, are collectively attacking the FBI Director personally, voters must be quite stupid and have to be kept in the dark. I'll go out on a limb and speculate that the President never wanted the public to know there was a criminal investigation of his preferred successor at all, which explains his very selective disclosures to the public which were obviously intended to influence voters.

As for the Clinton campaign, their intent was to mislead the public from the very beginning, which the State IG and Wikileaks have both confirmed, hence dozens of false public statements made by Secretary Clinton and her staff for over a year. Why else would they blame the FBI, or the Russians, or State Dept. staffers, or anybody other than Secretary Clinton, who bears the most responsibility for this sitation?

The Democratic Party already had a reputation for anti-transparency going back to 2013, but it now seems that by going to war with the FBI Director it's developing a reputation as the anti-law party as well. Because there's nothing more progressive than a scorched earth policy where the ends, winning this election, justify the means...

Posted by: MM | Nov 2, 2016 7:44:51 PM

The hypocritical Democrats doth protest too much. They are the ones who have sanctioned abuse by government agencies to influence elections.

The difference here is that the FBI and DOJ aren't attacking Hillary but protecting her. They aren't acting on behalf of Republicans but Democrats.

Prosecuting Hillary would be following the law, not abusing it.

Posted by: wodun | Nov 2, 2016 9:50:51 AM

How about having an article that does not just assume facts? I have not seen anything proving Comey had to notify Congress of the possibility of new evidence. This article states definitively that there is new evidence. Did I miss something, I thought his letter was just that there maybe could be a chance of new evidence? The article also says that Reid affirmatively claimed Comey violated the Hatch Act. Reid stated "may have violated" in the letter. Finally, there is nothing wrong with pointing out Reid may be hypocritical when it comes to his party versus the republican party. However, there is a difference between Comey releasing a statement that directly implicates a candidate and investigating groups that attempt to influence the election. One is a direct influence on the election the other is an indirect influence. That in no way excuses using the IRS to target groups, but it also does not excuse Comey's behavior. This article is premised on bad analogies and made up facts. I prefer a defense of Comey to be more than, well Reid played party politics so nanny nanny boo boo. Why not provide legal precedent and analysis? I know why, because that puts the hurr dee durrs to sleep, so instead, appeal to base emotion to get them angry.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 2, 2016 8:49:03 AM

I'll yield the floor to Publius to attack the source and deny the facts before I opine...

Posted by: MM | Nov 2, 2016 7:36:41 AM