Video: IRS Commish Skewered By Jordan And Gowdy At Oversight Hearing

Wednesday, at a House Oversight subcommittee hearing he chaired, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) tried to elicit from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen the answer to why it took him until June 13, 2014 to reveal to Congress that the IRS had lost a two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails.

Via The Blaze:

Jordan recounted that in April, Judicial Watch learned that the IRS and the Justice Department were meeting to discuss the idea of bringing action against various Tea Party groups for undertaking political activities that aren’t allowed by tax exempt groups.

That prompted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask the Justice Department about it. In May, a Justice Department official told the committee that the two agencies were meeting as far back as 2010.

“So we said, you know what, we better subpoena documents from the Justice Department,” Jordan said. “And we said to the Justice Department, we want any communications with Lois Lerner that you’ve had.”

Jordan said that in response, Justice gave the committee an email between Lerner and the Justice Department that the committee didn’t have. That prompted the committee to ask the IRS why it had not received the email as part of its prior request to the IRS.

“And then, suddenly, four days later, you tell the Finance Committee, the Congress, more importantly the American people, you know what, we lost Lois Lerner emails,” Jordan said to Koskinen.

“My theory is this, Mr. Koskinen, you guys weren’t ever gonna tell us until we caught you,” Jordan concluded. “And we caught you because Judicial Watch did a FOIA request.”

Congressman Trey Gowdy’s grilling of Koskinen was so brutal it was hard not to feel sorry for the 74  year old Commish when it was over.

At issue was Koskinen’s testimony before the committee in June in which he said he had “confirmed” that backup tapes of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s email had been recycled, making it impossible to recover emails the committee is seeking.

Lerner’s missing emails are a key part of the committee investigation that the IRS had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny.

On Monday, the panel released testimony from another IRS employee who indicated it is possible some information from Lerner’s computer might be retrievable from backup tapes after all.

The discrepancy enraged Gowdy.

Gowdy toyed with Koskinen in almost sadistically …

Gowdy:  “What does the word  ‘confirmed’ mean to you?”

Koskinen:  “It means that somebody went back and looked, and that all backup tapes had been recycled.”

Gowdy:  “Are you still ‘confirmed’ that no backup tapes exist?”

Koskinen:  “At this point I have no basis for not being ‘confirmed’. I do understand that the IG [Inspector General] were looking at tapes…”

UPDATE:

In case you’re wondering what prompted Gowdy to snap, “I really could not believe the colloquy that you had with one of our colleagues about the morale at the IRS. It takes a lot to stun me, but that stunned me.”

T. Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner explains:

Koskinen’s remarks were prompted by Chicago machine politician Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., who asked during a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday whether IRS workers have been able to deal with the supposed strain being put on them by investigators.

“When they … are subject to depositions and recorded interviews, it sends — these are all career people — it has a deleterious effect on morale because they thought they were actually doing what they were asked to do,” Koskinen said.

The IRS commissioner lamented the fact that agency officials have had to take time out of their terribly busy days to comply with numerous requests for emails and other recorded correspondences. In fact, some agents are even worried that — wait for this — they may be asked to testify.

“So for everybody else who’s working on this project, they’re now looking over their shoulder worrying about, ‘Am I going to get called up next?’ ” he said.

Unfortunately for the commissioner, there was at least one lawmaker present at the hearing who wasn’t swayed by news that the investigation into the targeting scandal has inconvenienced some IRS workers.

“Here’s a piece of advice I would give. If the folks like Lois Lerner and others would have spent more time working on … their caseload and less time targeting groups and less time trying to overturn Supreme Court decisions they didn’t agree with, maybe morale would be better and maybe their backlogs would be less,” Gowdy added scathingly.

You can watch the entire hearing in two parts, here.

Cruz: “Did President Obama Just Launch an Economic Boycott of Israel?” – Updated

images

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today, called out the Obama Regime for its decision to ban flights to Israel while, at the same time, announcing continuing aid to Gaza that will be funneled to the terrorist organization, Hamas.

Where is the rest of the Republican party on this? Congress holds the purse strings. Why on earth would they allow this travesty to happen?

“Aiding Hamas while simultaneously isolating Israel does two things. One, it helps our enemy. Two, it hurts our ally,” said Sen. Cruz.

He added, “The facts suggest that President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands.”

Sen. Cruz is asking the Obama Administration to answer five specific questions regarding the FAA’s decision to suspend flights to Israel.

Sen. Cruz’s full statement is below.

“Today, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it was extending its ban on flights by U.S. carriers into Israel. The rationale was that because one Hamas-launch rocket had landed in a field one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport, the ‘potentially hazardous security situation created by the armed conflict between Israel and Gaza’ necessitated this extreme action that has so far cancelled some 160 flights and left tens of thousands stranded.

“Obviously, no one wants to place civilian travelers in harm’s way, and the recent downing of Malaysian Airways flight 17 by pro-Russian militants in Ukraine is a stark reminder of the dangers posed by regional unrest. But security concerns in Israel are hardly breaking news, and given the exceptional challenge Israel faces, Ben Gurion has rightly earned the reputation as one of the safest airports in the world due to the aggressive security measures implemented by the Israeli government.

“Given that some 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel over the last six weeks, many of them at Tel Aviv, it seems curious to choose yesterday at noon to announce a flight ban, especially as the Obama Administration had to be aware of the punitive nature of this action.

“Tourism is an $11 billion industry for Israel, which is in the middle of a summer high season already seriously diminished by the conflict initiated by Hamas. Group tours have been cancelling at a 30% rate. This FAA flight ban may well represent a crippling blow to a key economic sector through both security concerns and worries that additional bans will down more flights and strand more passengers. It hardly matters if or when the ban is lifted. At this point, the damage may already be done.

“Even given the remarkable resilience and prosperity of its economy, Israel has always been vulnerable to economic blackmail. In the 1970s, we saw the Arab League boycott, which tried to punish any financial institution that did business with Israel.

“Today we have similar noxious efforts by the Boycott, Divest, Sanction or ‘BDS’ movement, which seeks to punish Israel for the fact that the militant terrorist elements embraced by the Palestinian Authority make any peace deal an intolerable security risk to Israel at this time. But the Obama Administration has refused to robustly denounce this effort to undermine our ally.

“Instead, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a veiled threat last February when he encouraged boycotts of Israel and said that absent serious Israeli concessions at the negotiating table, Israel’s economic prosperity was ‘not sustainable’ and ‘illusory.’ Secretary Kerry unfortunately reprised this theme just this April, when he threatened that Israel risked becoming an ‘apartheid state’ if Israel did not submit to his chosen solution to the Israel-Palestinian crisis.

BtPfYI1CEAESDWa-550x366Kerry meeting with Netanyahu Wednesday, image via AP

“Taken in the context of Secretary Kerry’s comments, yesterday’s action by the FAA raises some serious questions:

· Was this decision a political decision driven by the White House?

· If the FAA’s decision was based on airline safety, why was Israel singled out, when flights are still permitted into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen?

· What was the FAA’s ‘safety’ analysis that led to prohibiting flights to Israel, while still permitting flights to Ukraine—where a commercial airline flight was just shot down with a BUK missile?

· What specific communications occurred between the FAA and the White House? And the State Department? Why were any such communications necessary, if this was purely about airline safety?

· Was this a safety issue, or was it using a federal regulatory agency to punish Israel to try to force them to comply with Secretary Kerry’s demand that Israel stop their military effort to take out Hamas’s rocket capacity?

“When Secretary Kerry arrived in Cairo this week his first act was to announce $47 million in additional aid to Gaza, which is in effect $47 million for Hamas. In short order, this travel ban was announced by the FAA. Aiding Hamas while simultaneously isolating Israel does two things. One, it helps our enemy. Two, it hurts our ally.

“Until these serious questions are answered, the facts suggest that President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands.

“If so, Congress should demand answers.”

The State Department responded to Sen. Cruz’s questions, calling them “ridiculous” and “offensive.”
Hamas, however fully endorses the Obama administration’s decision to suspend U.S. flights to Israel. A spokesman for Hamas said: “The success of Hamas in closing Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, and is the crown of Israel’s failure.”
Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said, “to suggest the administration’s move does not directly empower Hamas is misguided and short-sighted.” In response to The State Department’s reaction to Cruz’s questions, she added, “we find the Obama Administration’s foreign policy to be ridiculous and offensive. The American people deserve answers to these questions and Sen. Cruz will continue to press for them.”
These days, I’m constantly reminded of the warning signs so many of us saw back in 2008 regarding  candidate Obama and his affinity for the terrorist group Hamas. Would that more Americans had seen it.
UPDATE:
Cruz Vows To Hold All State Department Nominees Until Questions Are Answered About Israeli Flight Ban

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced that he will hold all State Department nominees until the Obama Administration answers questions about its unprecedented decision to cancel flights to Israel, while at the same time announcing continuing aid that will be funneled to the terrorist organization, Hamas.

Earlier today, Sen. Cruz questioned whether the FAA’s decision to ban all U.S. flights to Israel amounted to an economic boycott of the nation and asked that five questions about the ban be answered.  When asked about his remarks, a State Department spokesperson said the questions were “offensive and ridiculous.”

“Serious questions were asked about the nature of a decision that handed Hamas a public relations victory and will cost Israel billions of dollars,” said Sen. Cruz. “The only thing ‘offensive’ about this situation is how the Obama Administration is spurning our allies to embolden our enemies; the only thing ‘ridiculous’ is the administration’s response to basic questions. Until the State Department answers my questions, I will hold all State Department nominees.”

The five questions Sen. Cruz is asking are below:

  • Was this a political decision driven by the White House? For instance, who was this decision made by – a career official, a political appointee, or someone else (at the FAA, State Department or White House)?
  • If the FAA’s decision was based on airline safety, why was Israel singled out when flights would be permitted into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen?
  • What was the FAA’s ‘safety’ analysis that led to prohibiting flights to Israel, while still permitting flights to Ukraine—where a commercial airline flight was just shot down with a BUK missile?
  • What specific communications occurred between the FAA and the White House?  And the State Department?  Why were any such communications necessary, if this was purely about airline safety?
  • Was this a safety issue, or was it using a federal regulatory agency to punish Israel to try to force them to comply with Secretary Kerry’s demand that Israel stop their military effort to take out Hamas’s rocket capacity?

UPDATE II:

WaPo: FAA announces that U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv can resume:

The Federal Aviation Administration announced late Wednesday night that U.S. carriers were allowed to resume flights to and from Tel Aviv.

This came nearly 36 hours after the agency had first banned U.S. airlines from traveling to and from Ben Gurion International Airport, halting service after a rocket landed about a mile away from Israel’s largest airport. The rule change allowing flights to resume went into effect as of 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” the agency said in a statement.

The FAA said that it “will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport.”

No other countries had cancelled flights. Just ours.

Obama was applying his tried and true “the never let a crisis go to waste” method of radical governance – but the Regime was called out, and had to back down.

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Standing With Israel Edition

bho-stands-with-israel-leans-to-pa-toonWelcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

The Council In Action!!

* Bookworm over at Bookworm Room scored with this wonderful poster featured at American Thinker.

192770_5_

This week, The MidKnight Review, Seraphic Secret, The Pirate’s Cove and Blazing Cat Fur earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor  by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have for you this week….

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that!

State Dept. Rejected Benghazi Compound Security Requests To Avoid Alarming The Terrorists Next Door

I can picture Benghazi Special Committee Chair,  Trey Gowdy looking at this latest information and just shaking his head. Multiple sources that were on the ground in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 have revealed to Fox News more facts about what happened in Benghazi on that fateful night.

According to these sources, the Consulate notified the State Department that the Islamic militia Ansar al Sharia had moved next door to the Benghazi compound less than a year before the attack, and the State Department’s response was something akin to, “and your point is?”

And when the Ambassador responded with, “um okay, can we at least have some uh – sandbags and um -  weapons so we can protect ourselves?” the response was, “no, that might upset the neighbors” (aka TERRORISTS.) Wish I were kidding.  So do the loved ones of the four dead Americans who were on the ground, there.

This is more of that amazing “smart diplomacy” we were promised in 2008. Oh yeah – the Obama brain trust were totally going to show up the Bushies with their “smart power.”.

A couple thoughts:

1. If you’re thinking no, no, no….NO administration – not even a Democrat one -  can be this weak and pathetic – congratulations, you are correct.

2. I know I’ve said this before, but does Hillary really think she’s running for president with this clusterfark under her belt? No, she’s done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cruz: Halbig Decision Is A ‘Repudiation Of Obamacare And All The Lawlessness That Comes With It’

Senator Ted Cruz Speaks At The Heritage Action Defund Obamacare Town Hall
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the federal subsidies for health insurance were not properly designed.

Nobody tried harder than U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas to stop Obamacare from being implemented.

Cruz released the following statement in reaction the Halbig v. Burwell decision.

 “The D.C. Circuit’s decision today in Halbig v. Burwell is a repudiation of Obamacare and all the lawlessness that has come with it,” said Sen. Cruz. “The Obama Administration, through the Internal Revenue Service, has attempted to dispense revenues to the states without proper congressional authorization, robbing Congress of its constitutionally-provided power of the purse. This decision restores power to Congress and to the people and if properly enforced, should shield citizens from Obamacare’s insidious penalties, mandates, and subsidies. This is a significant victory for the American people and the rule of law, but we must not rest. Americans will continue to lose jobs, pay higher premiums, and receive fewer healthcare choices because of this disastrous law. Every last word of Obamacare must be repealed to restore jobs, growth, and opportunity in our country.”

UPDATE:

Krauthammer’s take: ACA Language is not ambiguous:

SEE ALSO:

The American Thinker: Circuit Court invalidates Obamacare subsidies (updated)

The Conversation: Halbig Ruling Could Free More Than 57 Million Americans From ObamaCare Mandates

The Conversation: The Obama Regime Responds to Halbig Ruling: ‘The Subsidies Will Keep Flowing’

Twitchy:‘In light of Halbig, thank you,’ Nancy! Pelosi’s refusal to read the bill may have helped screw Obamacare

 

Issa: The IRS Probably Has Some Of Lerner’s Back-ups – But They’re ‘Not Sure What To Tell Us’ (Video)

In closed testimony before the House Oversight Committee, last week, Thomas Kane, the IRS’s deputy associate chief counsel, said the IRS may not have lost the backups of former agency administrator Lois Lerner’s emails after all.

In testimony released Monday, Kane told House Oversight investigators  that “the agency was examining whether all the back-up tapes which held the emails have been recycled.”

Via the Hill:

The IRS told lawmakers in June that the tapes had been recycled, one of the reasons that an untold number of Lerner’s emails were missing. Since then, the IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, has repeatedly stood by those statements in congressional testimony.

But Kane, the top IRS official in charge of producing documents for Congress, said on Thursday that: “I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t. I know that there’s an issue out there about it.”

“It’s an issue that’s being looked at,” Kane also said.

The reason why the IRS lawyer is hedging is because the agency is required by law to back up its emails.
Rep. Darrell Issa, the Chairman of the Oversight Committee told Greta Van Susteren, Monday evening, “they didn’t take our order to preserve documents ….they obviously didn’t gather the documents, they didn’t take care, and they’re not sure if they’ve got tapes hanging around that contain these back ups. As a matter of fact, their change – if you will – in this transcribed interview – really tells us there probably have some (documents) and they’re not sure what to tell us they have, because they’re not sure what they have yet, and that’s why this is taking so long, why the Commissioner is back and why Elijah Cummings continues to say there’s nothing there, when in fact they haven’t been able to tell us yet what really is there.”
Greta asked about the other crashed hard drives that have been reported.
“There are more crashed hard drives, Issa answered, “there’s more questions about people that  regularly corresponded with Lois Lerner, who regularly were part of this targeting of conservatives for their views who now seem to have problems with their computers and as a result – again – an absence of accountability.”
At Hot Air, Allahpundit says “we’ve reached a sufficiently high level of implausibility now” in regards to the serial computer crashes.

Assuming the data isn’t recovered and no one is punished, as seems likely, this is a get-out-of-jail-free card for the next president’s administration, no? If some Democratic Senate oversight committee demands to see e-mails from President Christie’s underlings and the reply comes back that the hard drives were all corrupted, what’s the grounds for complaint?IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane said in transcribed congressional testimony that more IRS officials experienced computer crashes, bringing the total number of crash victims to “less than 20,” and also said that the agency does not know if the lost emails are still backed up somewhere.

The new round of computer crash victims includes David Fish, who routinely corresponded with Lois Lerner, as well as Lerner subordinate Andy Megosh, Lerner’s technical adviser Justin Lowe, and Cincinnati-based agent Kimberly Kitchens.

 

Greta closed the segment by mentioning the two “no nonsense” judges who are now on the case – prompting a huge grin from Issa.

Governor Perry Press Conference: Deploying the National Guard (Video)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced plans, today, to activate and deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to increase the presence of border security.

Here is the entire presser, but the audio is pretty messed up. In case you can’t get through it, shorter but cleaner videos follow.

The National Guard should stay plenty busy dealing with problems like this:

 

The Border Patrol found itself under fire on Friday night from what they think were.50-caliber weapons, not exactly light arms. The fire appears to have been an attempt to suppress border security actions while smugglers brought their human cargo to the north side of the Rio Grande, according to Fox (via Katie Pavlich):

U.S. Border Patrol agents on the American side of the Rio Grande were forced to take cover Friday night when high-caliber weaponry was fired at them from the Mexican side of the river, sources told FoxNews.com.

The weapons were fired at the U.S. side of the riverbank in the area of the Rincon Peninsula across the Rio Grande from Reynosa, Mexico, at about 8:30 p.m., sources said. Bullets ricocheted into an area where Border Patrol agents were positioned, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told FoxNews.com.

Border Patrol sources confirmed Gohmert’s account, and said the shots may have been fired by .50-caliber weapons.

“We don’t have any armor that can stop a .50-caliber round, so our Border Patrol agents had to take cover when the rounds were richocheting around them,” said Gohmert, who has been in the area for the last week to get a first-hand look at the border situation.

“When the shooting stopped, about 40 to 50 people came out on the U.S. side and turned themselves in. So clearly the rounds were being fired to suppress every effort to stop anybody intervening with anyone or anything coming across,” Gohmert added. “We have no idea what or how many or whom came across with the other illegal immigrants.”

Sources said they believe the gunfire came from members of Mexican drug cartels, which include former military members trained in shooting that type of weaponry.

That would be a problem that the National Guard could address, certainly, if this incident has been verified — if the federal government won’t react to it.

I can’t help but wonder if any of these high caliber weapons will be traced back to any of the ATF’s gun-walking operations…

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