Rep. Trey Gowdy Grills Secret Service Director Julia Pierson (Video)

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday morning to answer questions about recent White House security breaches.

Pierson’s appearance before the committee were her first public statements about how an Army veteran armed with a knife,  was able to jump the fence  on Sept. 19 and bust into the White House where he made it all the way to the East Room before he was stopped.

Initially, we were told that Omar Gonzalez had been stopped right inside the front door.

Pierson, who took over as director of the Secret Service 18 months ago, was also questioned closely about a 2011 incident in which the agency failed to recognize that the White House had been struck by several rounds of gunfire until damage was found days later by staffers.

More from the hearing:

Early in the hearing, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, said that the country has “placed great trust” in the Secret Service and referred to the $1.5 billion that funds the agency.

But he said a “history of misbehavior” has tarnished the agency’s reputation. The Gonzalez incident represented a breach of five layers of security, he said, and he went on to list a catalog of other missteps, beginning with the 2009 crashing of a White House state dinner by an uninvited couple, agents consorting with prostitutes in Cartagena, Columbia, and a drinking incident in the Netherlands earlier this year.

“We have to ask whether the culture of the Secret Service has been impacting the operation,” he said. “How much would it cost to lock the front door of the White House?”

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., offered an inventory of weapons Gonzalez was carrying in his car during his first encounter with police months before the Sept. 19 incident.

“Then he shows up at the White House with a hatchet in his belt. No red flags and you let him go,” Lynch said.

“When do the red flags go up for the Secret Service? This is disgraceful,” he said, adding that the distance Gonzalez traveled inside the White House represented half a public tour of the White House.

“I wish you spent the time protecting the White House that you spent protecting your reputation here today,” Lynch said.

Pierson sat silently before interjecting: “Let me be clear, the United States Secret Service does not take any of these incidents lightly.”

But Lynch pressed on, saying that he had “very low confidence in the Secret Service under your leadership.”

 MORE:

Via Twitchy:

 

Also via Twitchy: You got to go, lady’: Time for bumbling Secret Service director to hit the road?

 

Select Committee on Benghazi Hearing Live Feed

The House Select Committee on Benghazi is holding its first hearing, titled “Implementation of the Accountability Review Board recommendations.” The hearing began at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Providing testimony are Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr, whose position was created after the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and two security experts who served on a State Department independent panel.

Live feed via Rollcall:

Here is Chairman Trey Gowdy’s opening statement:

Gowdy’s final comments:

SEE ALSO:

Twitchy: Early Observations from Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi hearing

Hot Air: Benghazi Hearings About To Force The Press To Pay Attention.

NRO: Clinton ‘Correct the Record’ Site Lies About the Record on Benghazi

Video: Trey Gowdy Rips The IRS In Fiery One Minute Floor Speech

Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) took to the House floor, Thursday for a one minute rapid-fire speech that gave the IRS the tongue-lashing of a lifetime.

He started out by saying that “there’s a hunger in this country for things that binds us together,” for instance; “Americans agree that the IRS should never target citizens. Americans agree that the government should tell us the truth.”

He continued, “the IRS has offered eight different explanations for targeting our fellow citizens.

If we, Madam Speaker, changed our story to the government eight different times, we would be called – inmates. We can’t lie to government, therefore the government shouldn’t lie to us.”

Obama didn’t escape his wrath, either: “No president should ever say there’s not a smidgen of corruption while an investigation is ongoing!” Gowdy exclaimed.

 

Hat tip: Brian B.

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.

Gowdy Grills White House Counsel On Spoliation Of Evidence (Video)

South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, for the second day in a row, stressed  that “spoliation of evidence” occurred when the IRS lost two years worth of key emails and asked former IRS lawyer Jennifer O’Connor what negative inference she would draw if she were a private citizen outside the beltway. O’Connor  was subpoenaed by Chairman Darrell Issa, last night, to testify about her time at the IRS from May to November 2013 at this morning’s Oversight and Reform hearing on IRS obstruction.

O’Connor — a White House lawyer who whose job at the IRS was to help the agency gather documents related to the congressional investigation into IRS’ improper targeting of conservatives, was grilled by Gowdy who was dissatisfied with how she had handled her searches.

“What’s wrong with the search terms being ‘to’ and ‘from?’” he asked.

“Well that would get you everything –” O’Connor began.

“Right, that’s my point,” Gowdy interrupted. “Why reduce it? If you want access to all the information, if you want access to all of the truth, why are you reducing the search terms? Why not just ‘to Lois Lerner’ and ‘from Lois Lerner?’”

Gowdy went on to establish why Americans have every right to feel suspicious about how the IRS has been handling the Congressional inquiries – important because the Regime is pushing a narrative designed to make the public feel like conspiracy theorists if they think something might be awry.

Via The Daily Caller:

“What negative inference would you draw — if you were just one of our fellow citizens watching this,” Gowdy said. “You know that initially there was a denial of targeting. You know that she picked a very obscure [American Bar Association] conference to disclose that targeting had taken place.”

“You know that initially it was blamed on two rogue agents — in fact, Jay Carney perpetuated that myth,” he continued. “You know that Lois Lerner took the Fifth Amendment. You know that the president of the United States said there was not a smidgen of corruption. And now you’re told that the evidence doesn’t exist, the emails don’t exist.”

“What negative inference — if you were just a regular citizen sitting at home watching this, and you’ve got that litany of failed defenses, those false, exculpatory statements, and now you’re told that evidence doesn’t exist — what negative inference would you draw?” the lawmaker angrily concluded.

O’Connor noted that Lerner tried to send her laptop to government IT professionals in order to retrieve the emails. “The inference that I would draw is that if she wanted intentionally to destroy the material, she would not have sent it,” the lawyer asserted.

If the “criminal investigative unit” of which she speaks is part of the DOJ, we can reasonably assume that the fix was in. No matter who they are – if they’re part of this Regime – it’s reasonable to assume the fix was in.

SEE ALSO:

The Conversation:  U.S. Archivist Tells Congress IRS Didn’t Follow The Law

The Conversation: Issa To White House Counsel: ‘You’re a Hostile Witness’ (Video)

Trey Gowdy Scorches IRS Chief: “You don’t have any idea of criminal wrongdoing or not!” (Video)

South Carolina firebrand Trey Gowdy gave liberals a preview of what the Regime is in for when he chairs the Benghazi special committee, this Fall, at the Oversight and Reform hearing on the IRS scandal, Monday night.

Gowdy is a skilled legal questioner and his mastery was on full display at the hearing entitled, “IRS Obstruction: Lois Lerner’s Missing Emails.” 

He came prepared – more prepared than the 74 year old Koskinen would have liked.

The former prosecutor gave the IRS Chief a primer on something he called “foliation of evidence.”

Via Mediaite:

Gowdy lectured Koskinen on the “negative inference” drawn by the inability of the IRS to retrieve these emails, and said if a taxpayer is being prosecuted by the IRS a jury would look on them with more than a little suspicion.

He pressed Koskinen on how he knows there was no criminal wrongdoing. At one point, Koskinen exasperatedly said he’s relying on “common sense,” at which point Gowdy went off and lectured him, shouting, “You don’t have any idea of criminal wrongdoing or not!”

When Koskinen clumsily tried to absolve the White House  – insinuating that the GOP had wrongly implicated Obama,  Gowdy let him have it:  “You’re repeating a talking point by our colleagues on the other side!”

Can you imagine one of the older Republican  dinosaurs catching on to what Koskinen was doing there –  pushing the Regime’s “conspiracy theory” narrative? They probably would have felt intimidated and backed down. Not Gowdy – he went on the offensive, explaining to Koskinen how Obama and Carney had implicated themselves by making false statements.

Poetry in motion.