The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing, Wednesday on the IRS political targeting scandal.
Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC) grilled the former IRS Commissioner but didn’t get much in the way of answers. Rep. Gowdy focused his time on why Mr. Shulman did not take any corrective actions when he learned of the IRS targeting certain groups.
“Can you give me the name of a single person who was involved in the original decision to target conservative groups for disparate treatment?” he asked. Shulman had no clue.
His line today was that when he learned of the inappropriate behavior, he was told that it had stopped. When asked if he did anything to make sure “the insidious, discriminatory practice was stopped”, Shulman stammered that the Inspector General was looking into it.
“If there’s someone wielding a knife in the parking lot, are you going to call the Inspector General? Are you going to wait until the IG report is out before you stop it?” Gowdy thundered.
Shulman just stared at him blankly.
Gowdy asked him why the culture under his watch allowed conservative groups to be targeted.
Shulman answered that he wasn’t sure that the targeting was political, causing Gowdy to explode: “You STILL DON”T KNOW THAT THIS WAS POLITICALl?!”
The Washington Times: Congressman Trey Gowdy checkmates Lois Lerner:
From Benghazi to Fast and Furious to the Associated Press, keeping track of Obama scandals requires sharp focus. The IRS scandal involves government employees deliberately targeting politically conservative and other organizations that Obama dislikes, as well as targeting individuals who have irritated the Obama machine.
California Congressman Darrell Issa’s committee wants one major question answered: Who decided to use the IRS to target political opponents? Lerner may know. She decided to invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. She refused to answer questions. Yet she badly miscalculated.
She began with a self-righteous opening statement claiming she did nothing wrong. Only after defending herself did she invoke her Fifth Amendment rights.
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Republicans on the committee thought they had been defeated, but Gowdy knew better. Once a person issues a statement, Fifth Amendment privilege is waived on the substance of the statement. By issuing an opening statement, Ms. Lerner was testifying. Her right to stay silent on that testimony was gone forever.
A panicked liberal Elijah Cummings of Maryland pointed out that while congressional hearings are “like” a court of law, they are not in actuality a court of law. Even Congressman Issa, normally a very sharp and prepared operator, had to check on whether Gowdy’s interpretation applied.
It absolutely does. So what do Republicans do next?
Long ago, Obama took the gloves off because he rightly concluded that Republicans did not have the stomach for a protracted fight. They would back down because they always do. They are so scared of being seen as “mean” and “partisan” that they would rather just say they tried their best and roll over.
Gowdy does not roll over, but he is not in charge. Issa has a major decision to make.
Since Lerner waived Fifth Amendment privileges, Issa must compel her testimony. If she refuses, then she must be arrested and held in contempt of Congress. She can sit in a cell until she agrees to testify.
This might not end the matter. Susan McDougal spent eighteen months in jail to protect the Clintons. Maybe Lerner is willing to remain in jail to protect President Obama.
Maybe she is not.
Her defenders would portray her as a victim, a poor helpless woman being attacked by mean men on the committee.
This woman is no victim. There is a criminal element in our government. Using the IRS to target political opponents is a crime. Lerner is suppressing information on who may have been in charge of ordering those crimes. She blundered on the stand, which is her fault.
Like many Obama employees, she has used the legal system to keep the truth at bay. Unlike her colleagues, she was less clever about it. She turned out to be the weak link.
Mail Online: IRS tea-party bloodbath continues in Congress, as evidence emerges that IRS’s own internal probe ended in May 2012, six months before election, but was hidden from legislators:
Tempers flared in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday, with members on both sides of the aisle castigating the Internal Revenue Service for targeting conservative groups with special scrutiny, and then hiding the practice from Congress.
Rep. Darrel Issa, the committee’s chairman, said that the committee learned just yesterday that the IRS completed its own investigation a year before a Treasury Department Inspector General report was completed.
But despite the IRS recognizing in May 2012 that its employees were treating right-wing groups differently from other organizations, Issa said, IRS personnel withheld those conclusions from legislators.
‘Just yesterday the committee interviewed Holly Paz, the director of exempt organizations, rulings and agreements, division of the IRS,’ Issa said. ‘While a tremendous amount of attention is centered about the Inspector General’s report, or investigation, the committee has learned from Ms. Paz that she in fact participated in an IRS internal investigation that concluded in May of 2012 – May 3 of 2012 – and found essentially the same thing that Mr. George found more than a year later.’