Emails released by House Ways & Means show Lerner targeted GOP Senator

Lois Lerner

Lois Lerner

Via Fox News:

Congressional investigators have uncovered emails showing ex-IRS official Lois Lerner targeted a sitting Republican senator for a proposed internal audit, a discovery one GOP lawmaker called “shocking.” 

The emails were published late Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Committee and pertain to the woman at the heart of the scandal over IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. 

The emails appear to show Lerner mistakenly received an invitation intended for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in 2012. 

The event organizer, whose name is not disclosed, apparently offered to pay for Grassley’s wife to attend the event, which caught Lerner’s attention. The December 2012 emails show that in response, Lerner suggested to an IRS colleague that the case be referred for an audit. 

“Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?” she wrote. 

Her colleague, though, pushed back on the idea, saying an offer to pay for his wife is “not prohibited on its face.” There is no indication from the emails that Lerner pursued the issue any further. 


Grassley, incidentally, is a member of the Senate Finance Committee — which is one of the congressional panels investigating the IRS over the targeting scandal. 

The plot thickens ………

Speaker Boehner’s meaningless, craven lawsuit


**Posted by Phineas



Pathetic. Speaker John Boehner announced plans for the House to sue President Obama in court to force him to do his job and enforce the laws. Without being specific about the grounds of the suit, one can safely assume it covers Obama’s non-enforcement of immigration laws along the southwest border and, perhaps, the administration’s unilateral rewrites and illegal waivers of the Affordable Care Act and it’s serial failure to cooperate in the IRS investigations.

Speaking to the press, Boehner added the following:

Boehner strongly brushed aside a question of whether impeachment proceedings could result from the suit. “This is not about impeachment. This is about his (Obama’s) faithfully executing the laws of our country,” he said.

Pardon me a moment; I was rolling my eyes so hard on reading that, I was getting dizzy.

Mr. Speaker, on taking office, every president swears the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The President is Chief Magistrate of the United States, its top federal law-enforcer. “Faithfully execute” means doing that job. If you are suing because the president has broken his oath by not faithfully executing the duties of his office, then you have perforce invoked grounds for impeachment by reason of maladministration.

You’ve said it, so don’t go denying in the next breath what we all know it means. Leave being a weasel to the Democrats.


He also rejected a suggestion that the suit was designed to give traditional Republican voters a reason for going to the polls this fall when control of Congress will be at stake.

“This is about defending the institution in which we serve,” he said. “What we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch.”

Argh. The Congress has been surrendering legislative power to the Executive, more under Democrats, less so under Republicans, since the Progressive era. More and more regulatory authority has been given to panels of bureaucrats in the guise of “rule making,” when really it amounts to the power to make law. It’s more accurate to say this process has greatly expanded under Obama, who pushes the bounds like no president has since FDR (or maybe Nixon), but let’s not pretend this hasn’t been going on for a long time. If the Congress were truly interested in “defending its prerogatives,” as Madison intended, it has had plenty of opportunities, but has done so only fitfully.

You want to “defend the institution” in which you serve? Then forget the ridiculous lawsuit (and Senator Paul’s and Senator Johnson’s); you don’t resolve political power struggles between the legislature and the presidency by running crying to the courts (1). You have two powers: cutting off funds and impeachment. The former seems to be ineffective, but you have the latter. As I wrote yesterday:

I’d suggest forming another [House Select Investigating Committee] for the IRS scandal and one for Fast and Furious, both with full subpoena powers and special counsel hired to lead the inquiries. They all should work through the summer and, when done, present their findings to the full House. Forget the Department of Justice; it can’t be trusted with Eric Holder in charge. Instead, the House should impeach whomever is found culpable by the investigations.

While impeaching the President himself isn’t politically practical (yet), his political appointees bear the same responsibility as he: faithful execution of the laws and obedience to the Constitution. If committee investigations find any derelict in their duties, such as top management at the IRS, impeach them, place them on trial before the Senate, and make Harry Reid defend their abuses of power. Fence Obama in by taking away his minions.

That’s how you defend the institution, Mr. Speaker. If you really want to.

(1) For one thing, the courts rely on the Executive to enforce their orders. If you can’t trust Obama to enforce the laws…

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Nation’s top archivist: #IRS “did not follow the law” after hard drive crash



Via the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service did not follow the law when it failed to report a hard drive crash that destroyed emails belonging to a senior official at the center of a scandal over the agency’s treatment of conservative-leaning political groups, the nation’s top archivist said Tuesday.

“In accordance with the Federal Records Act, when an agency becomes aware of an incident of unauthorized destruction, they must report the incident to us,” said David S. Ferriero, the chief archivist at the National Archives.

Mr. Ferriero made his remarks at a congressional hearing examining the 2011 disappearance of emails sent and received by Lois Lerner, the former I.R.S. official who is accused of politically motivated mistreatment of Tea Party-aligned groups seeking tax exemptions.

Mr. Ferriero would not say that anyone at the I.R.S. committed a crime, only that the agency “did not follow the law.” He said he learned of the missing emails on June 13, when the agency made the disclosure in a filing to Congress.

Gee, ya think?

Politico has more:

The law requires agencies to save official records — defined in a National Archives guidance post as “documentary materials that agencies create and receive while conducting business that provide evidence of the agency’s organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and operations, or that contain information of value.”

At the IRS, employees who send such official correspondences via email are supposed to print them out and file hard copies.

Something else that didn’t happen with regular frequency, obviously…. :-w

IRS scandal: forget the special counsel. Instead, impeach.


**Posted by Phineas

Let the trials begin

Let the trials begin

The growing frustration with the various scandals of the Obama administration have lead to repeated calls from the Opposition for special prosecutors to investigate and, if warranted, to criminally prosecute violators, most recently in the IRS scandal. For example, there’s Bryan Preston of PJ Media:

Congressional hearings make for mediocre TV and a poor vehicle for investigating the targeting of conservatives by our own government. It will take a special prosecutor who will go below the level of IRS chief and get to the people who were around when Lerner’s emails were supposedly lost, and who will depose them, look through contracts, find the inconsistencies and build a case. All the rest is show.

I sympathize, but, as I replied to Preston, just how does one get Holder and Obama to appoint one? And, furthermore, what guarantees do we have that the appointee will be truly independent? I don’t think it’s likely that the Attorney General will appoint a modern-day Archibald Cox, who’d rather be fired than compromise his investigation, do you?

Senator Roberts of Kansas was also among those calling for an independent prosecutor appointed by Congress:

 “The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice won’t meaningfully pursue the IRS, but Kansans are demanding a full investigation, where ever it may lead, into how and why the IRS shut down the activities of the Administration’s opponents. At this point, only a Congressionally appointed and separately funded special counsel, with full subpoena power, can get to the bottom of this matter. Congress has longstanding and broad authority to both investigate allegations of wrongdoing within the federal government and to delegate its investigatory powers to other entities. It’s time to put this authority into action.

Roberts wants the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for “suppressing the First Amendment” rights of those targeted by the IRS, but, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out, there is a serious flaw in Roberts’ argument: Congress has all the authority to appoint an investigator and investigate all they want, but they have no constitutional authority to prosecute:

Congress can issue subpoenas for information in connection with its oversight function; it lacks any power to issue subpoenas in connection with what Senator Roberts says he is calling for: “the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for suppressing the First Amendment.” Congress is bereft of authority to enforce the penal laws, to conduct grand-jury proceedings, to issue indictments, to make arrests, and to subject offenders to criminal trials.


Senator Roberts is surely correct that Congress may appoint and fund its own special counsel. Indeed, it has done so many times: Committees conducting significant congressional investigations have frequently retained experienced former prosecutors to lead the hunt for evidence and the examination of witnesses. But a congressional special counsel is not, and may not be, an independent prosecutor. A congressional “special counsel” may only exercise Congress’s powers, not the president’s. The special counsel may conduct oversight; he or she may not prosecute.

Citing arguments ranging from recent Appeals Court rulings back to James Madison in Federalist 10, McCarthy reminds us that the Founders considered this separation of power, a division between the power to legislate and the power to prosecute, as essential to our liberty. Indeed, Madison saw their combination in one branch of government’s hands to be the very definition of tyranny (1).

But, if Congress can only investigate and shed light, but not prosecute, what then is to be done? What remedy is there when the Executive won’t fulfill its duties to enforce the laws and, if need be, prosecute?

McCarthy answers that the solution to this political problem is the political “weapon” the Constitution allows Congress — impeachment:

Congress has the power to impeach and remove from power high executive officials who have abused their powers. And while it appears that conventional felonies may have been committed in the IRS scandal, that is nearly beside the point, for two reasons.

First, “high crimes and misdemeanors” need not be indictable offenses. The term, borrowed from English law, refers instead to betrayals of the profound trust reposed in high government officials. Undermining the constitutional rights of the people and misleading Congress are among the most egregious betrayals executive-branch officials can commit. They clearly warrant impeachment and removal.

Second, with due respect to Senator Roberts and other Republicans who have emphasized the potential criminal liability of IRS and other executive-branch officials, they are barking up the wrong tree. When executive power is being abused, the public-interest imperative is to remove the power from the malevolent or incompetent officials. Whether they are also, at some point, privately prosecuted for their wrongdoing is of far less moment.

And I agree. Realistically, we will have to wait for a Republican White House in order to criminally prosecute law breakers in the IRS and other scandals. But the health of our political system and the Rule of Law requires the removal of corrupt, faithless, and incompetent political appointees now. Forget that the Senate has a Democratic majority lead by a petty tyrant: bring the first impeachment against Commissioner Koskinen and make the Democrats defend the IRS before the public.

We already have a House select committee investigating the Benghazi massacre. If John Boehner doesn’t mind a bit of advice, I’d suggest forming another for the IRS scandal and one for Fast and Furious, both with full subpoena powers and special counsel hired to lead the inquiries. They all should work through the summer and, when done, present their findings to the full House. Forget the Department of Justice; it can’t be trusted with Eric Holder in charge. Instead, the House should impeach whomever is found culpable by the investigations.

Short of removing the President, himself (2), it’s the only way (3) to rein in an imperial Executive Branch.

(1) And if you look at the Chief Executive’s usurpations of Congress legislative power to rewrite the laws at whim, you can see what Mr. Madison meant. Also, this is one reason we prohibit Bills of Attainder.
(2) McCarthy has written an excellent book, Faithless Execution, making the legal case for Barack Obama’s impeachment and removal from office. However, he also makes a strong argument that this simply will not be possible without a public political consensus for Obama’s removal existing, first. I agree with him and think that going after lower officials, instead, will be more fruitful.
(3) There is the “power of the purse,” but for various reasons that hasn’t worked in recent years.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

VIDEO: Trey Gowdy vs. #IRS Commish Josh Koskinen – guess who wins?

Congressman Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC-4
Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

LOTS of fireworks at last night’s rare evening Congressional hearing, this one on the scandal surrounding the IRS targeting of conservative groups – and the still-unexplained loss of two years worth of emails from Lois Lerner and other key IRS employees. Unsurprisingly, rising star South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy got his time in … and then some. Below is video of him grilling IRS Commissioner Josh Koskinen (via Gateway Pundit):

A brief recap of Gowdy vs. Koskinen, via The Blaze:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) late Monday criticized IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for claiming there’s no evidence of criminal misconduct at the IRS over the targeting scandal, even though he hasn’t bothered to examine the criminal code.

“You have already said multiple times today that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing,” Gowdy said. “I want you to tell me what criminal statutes you’ve evaluated.”

“I have not looked at any,” Koskinen replied.

“Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there’s not criminal wrongdoing if you don’t even know what statutes to look at?” Gowdy shot back.

Koskinen said several times that he’s seen no evidence that anyone consciously acted inappropriately, but Gowdy said that’s not the same as trying to examine whether a crime was committed.

“How would you know what elements of the crime existed?” Gowdy asked. “You don’t even know what statutes are in play.”

Koskinen said he believes he can rely on common sense, but Gowdy blasted that answer out of the water before Koskinen could finish his thought.

“Common sense? Instead of the criminal code, you want to rely on common sense?” Gowdy said as Koskinen shook his head at the table.

“You can shake your head all you want to, Commissioner. You have said today that there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, and I’m asking you what criminal statutes you have reviewed to reach that conclusion.” Gowdy concluded that Koskinen had “no idea” whether any crimes have been committed.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa held his own as well during the hearing, telling Koskinen, “we have a problem with you and you have a problem with credibility.”

Interestingly enough, Koskinen sounds like a pretty reliable backer of Democrats over the years, wouldn’t you say?

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen looks like he got the job atop the taxman agency the old fashioned way: He bought it.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Koskinen has donated about $100,000 to Democrat candidates and committees since his first donation in 1979. His donor recipients include Gary Hart, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic nominee in each presidential campaign since 1980 (which would even include Walter Mondale, who stood no chance of beating President Ronald Reagan in 1984), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s campaigns. He most recently donated $2,500 to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in 2013.

He has given no money to Republicans. The taxman is a partisan Democrat.

What a surprise …

The hearings into this matter will continue today.

#IRS had an external email archiving service from 2005 to 2011


**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare implementation team"

“IRS records retention staff”

Well, la-dee-da. Isn’t this interesting?

The agency said that emails stored on dead drives were lost forever because its email backup tapes were recycled every six months, and employees were responsible for keeping their own long-term archives.

The IRS had a contract with email backup service vendor Sonasoft starting in 2005, according to, which lists the contract as being for “automatic data processing services.” Sonasoft’s motto is “email archiving done right,” and the company lists the IRS as a customer.

And, as recently as 2009, Sonasoft was advertising its work for the IRS. That’s awfully close to the time frame of Lois Lerner’s (and others’) missing emails. But, in an update to the linked article, Peter Suderman points out that Sonasoft’s contracts with the government were small, in the very low five figures. Thus, they may well have not been paid to back up the specific accounts in question. (SEE UPDATE)

But… This leaves wide open the question of what other archiving services, if any, IRS may have hired during the time in question. (And not just IRS, but the departments where the recipients of her emails worked.) This would be a very good question to ask IRS Commissioner Koskinen under oath, though I wouldn’t rely on his answer. After all, no one believes him. Rather, this is a question that should be posed by the lead investigator for a Select Investigating Committee who’s already done his due diligence and knows the answer.

Just because I like to see lying bureaucrats squirm.

RELATED: Per Sharyl Attkisson, it’s not just the IRS possibly destroying records they’re legally obligated to retain. A federal judge has held the EPA in contempt and ordered it to pay legal fees for destroying records requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

UPDATE: Oh, this is special! Via Rick Moran, The Daily Caller reports that Sonasoft’s contract with the IRS was terminated weeks after Lerner’s computer crash:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed.

The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”

Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.

But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.

Read the whole thing. I’m sure the timing was just a coincidence, aren’t you?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Does the White House know anything about *anything*?

Obama confused

‘Ummm …’

Great piece from Fox News detailing at least ‘9 times the Obama administration was blindsided’ – or allegedly blindsided, anyway. Here’s a sneak peek:

1. Islamist militants gaining in Iraq

The New Yorker (1/27/2014): “In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been ‘decimated.’ I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Fallujah, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

‘The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,’ Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. ‘I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.'”

The Wall Street Journal (6/11/2014): Iraq Drama Catches US Off Guard


8. Fast and Furious scandal

Jay Carney during a White House press briefing (6/27/2012): “The president did not know about this tactic until he heard about it through the media; the attorney general did not know about it.”

Read the whole thing and – not to be a downer this weekend – think about it when you’re out and about today that we’ve got a year and a half more to go of this executive office seeming cluelessness on major hot button issues – most of which have significant impact beyond how it plays out here in the United States. The White House’s dangerous feigned ignorance on these issues and more (including Benghazi and the emerging border crisis involving children) has not just caused PR headaches for them but – in some cases – has cost innocent lives, the deaths of which many were preventable.  If that level of willful HISS (Head In Sand Syndrome) doesn’t chill you to the bone, I don’t know what will.

Sure it’s a coincidence: Lerner’s PC “crashed” 10 days after congressional inquiry


**Posted by Phineas

"Cross my fingers!"

“You can trust me!”

And if you believe that was an accident, have I got a bridge for you:

As to Ms. Lerner’s behavior, consider that House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp first sent a letter asking if the IRS was engaged in targeting in June, 2011. Ms. Lerner denied it. She engineered a plant in an audience at a tax conference in May 2013 to drop the bombshell news about targeting (maybe hoping nobody would notice?). She has subsequently asserted a Fifth Amendment right to silence in front of the only people actually investigating the affair, Congress. Now we learn that her hard drive supposedly defied modernity and suffered total annihilation about 10 days after the Camp letter arrived.

Is there something in those lost emails? The fact that they are “lost” at all probably answers that question.

Read the rest at Ace’s.

I’m sick of this crap. It defies any sense of the reasonable that her computer would just happen to crash mere days after a powerful congressman wrote to ask “Say, are you harassing people for their political beliefs?” There is something deliberate and criminal going on here.

But there is no way AG Holder will appoint a special counsel, so the only way to get to the bottom of this is House Select Investigating Committee. Yes, another one. I want it, I want it now, and I want these liars nailed to a wall.

Anyone have a Trey Gowdy clone handy?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Paul Ryan to #IRS commissioner: “No one trusts you.”


**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)

(Video) #Benghazi — why it matters


**Posted by Phineas

Aside from owing a true accounting to the memories of the dead lost there and their survivors, the truth about the Benghazi massacre matters because of two words: “competence” and “character.”  Bill Whittle explains:

Remember, one of the two top American officials mentioned in the video plainly desires to be President of the United States. Ignore the faux-outrage of her supporters; questions about Hillary Clinton’s conduct, competence, and character before, during, and after the attack are absolutely appropriate.

And the answers should disqualify her from office.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)