**Posted by Phineas
Well, gee after over a year of revelations about government harassment of conservative groups applying for non-profit status, and after recent claims that convenient computer crashes wiped out emails demanded by investigating congressional committees, what reasonable person wouldn’t trust the IRS?
Paul Ryan, for one, when questioning IRS Commissioner Koskinen:
“This is unbelievable,” said Ryan, a Republican, at a Friday hearing. “The apology that ought to be given is to the American taxpayer, not to a government agency that is abusing its power. I am sitting here listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it. That’s your problem. Nobody believes you.”
“You are the Internal Revenue Service,” Ryan added. “You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hang onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited and you can’t keep six months worth of employee e-mails? And now that we are seeing this investigation, you don’t have the e-mails, hard drives crashed. You learned about this months ago. You just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday.”
Clearly, Congressman Ryan’s lack of faith in the bureaucracy’s honesty is rooted in anti-Obama racism. (1)
Once again, we’re left with a choice when it comes to an Obama administration scandal: either the IRS is massively incompetent and is unintentionally violating federal records retention laws, in spite of getting all the money and IT help it wants, or a bunch of people are lying through their teeth and deliberately violating those same laws (as well as others).
I’m usually willing to blame stupidity before malice, but the IRS and the Obama White House are making that awfully hard.
RELATED: An interesting reminder from Ed Morrissey — as part of a larger article on abuse of power and the missing emails, he mentions an odd meeting between the IRS Chief Counsel, William Wilkins, and President Obama, himself, just days before Wilkins sent Lerner new guidelines for dealing with Tea Party applicants for 501(c) status:
There are are numerous differences between [Watergate and the IRS] scandals, too. For one thing, no one has tied this to the White House or any of President Barack Obama’s advisers. The closest insinuation between the IRS targeting scandal has been an unusual meeting between the IRS’ chief counsel, William Wilkins, and Obama on April 23, 2012. The chief counsel for the IRS would have no discernible reason for a private meeting with the president; his job would be to brief the IRS commissioner – at the time Douglas Shulman – who met with Obama the very next day.
The day after that, Wilkins sent a revised set of guidelines to Lois Lerner for the tax-exempt unit to use when applying extra scrutiny. To this day, no explanation for this meeting has been made public, even though records show that Wilkins spent hours at the White House with “POTUS” as his host.
Nor was this the first time that Wilkins appears in the targeting narrative. Carter Hull, a retired high-ranking IRS official with 48 years’ experience at the agency, testified that after he approved a Tea Party-related tax-exempt application, it got routed to Wilkins rather than finalized.
I noted this and another curious meeting with the head of the anti-Tea Party Treasury employees union last July. I’d suggest both these are potentially fruitful avenues of investigation for a House select committee.
(1) You just know some MSNBC talking head is dying to say just that.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)