IRS COMMISSIONER MOCKS CONGRESS: Dares Oversight to Hold Him in Contempt Over Political Targeting

It isn’t pretty when the rule of law begins crumbling right before our eyes.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a House panel that congressional investigators can try to hold him in contempt over the Tea Party targeting scandal whenever they think that they can make the charge stick, something he thinks is unlikely.

The topic came up when Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., asked for a date at which it would be appropriate for agency officials to be held in contempt if they have not yet provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with documents that have been requested from the IRS.

“I think the timeline is whenever you think you could actually sustain that in a court,” Koskinen replied. “I think we have a strong case that we have been cooperative, continue to be cooperative, and anybody looking at the systems we have and the time it takes would find that we’ve provided you more cooperation than, in fact, might be expected. And I think that, in fact, arguing and threatening contempt in that situation without understanding the circumstances is probably not going to be held up.”

It wasn’t the only time that accusations flew during a testy congressional hearing, as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, forced Koskinen to admit that he had patterned his testimony on a proposed regulation affecting the political activity of nonprofits after a Treasury Department official’s letter to Congress. Koskinen had previously said he had not conferred with administration officials.

Remember, House Speaker John Boehner refuses to name a Select Investigative Committee to conduct a formal inquiry with dedicated and experienced staff members.

Chalk this up as reason #4,035 that Boehner needs to go.

Hat tips: Conservative Tribune and BadBlue News

Doug Ross @ Journal

PERJURY: House Oversight Committee Says Lois Lerner Lied to Congress at least Four Times

It would appear that former IRS executive Lois Lerner could soon be held in contempt of Congress and — as an added bonus — charged with perjury.

[The House Oversight committee report] states that [former IRS overseer Lois] Lerner made false statements to committee staff on various occasions.

During a February 2012 briefing, Lerner told committee staff that the criteria for evaluating tax-exempt applications had not changed. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), however, Lerner directed in June 2011 that the criteria used to identify applications be changed.

As Moe Lane observes, Lois Lerner now faces a very serious life-decision:


I don’t think that Darrell Issa is contemplating contempt charges. I think that he’s letting Ms. Lerner know that she has to decide soon whether it’s going to be her scalp that goes up on the lintel. House Oversight has no real reason not to put a former Director of IRS Exempt Organizations in jail for a few years, particularly if they can also convict a suitable number of subordinates: it would be nice to get the people in the Executive Branch who gave the orders, but putting the fear of God and Congress into those who got the orders will also pay dividends.

But, obviously if Lois Lerner is not the biggest fish in this investigation then Darrell Issa would like to get his hands on the one who is. That is Ms. Lerner’s only real bargaining card right now; I look forward to seeing her next play.

The House Oversight Committee summarized Lerner’s role as follows:

Through e-mails, documents, and the testimony of other IRS officials, the Committee has learned a great deal about Lois Lerner’s role in the IRS targeting scandal since the Committee first issued a subpoena for her testimony. She was keenly aware of acute political pressure to crack down on conservative-leaning organizations. Not only did she seek to convey her
agreement with this sentiment publicly, she went so far as to engage in a wholly inappropriate effort to circumvent federal prohibitions in order to publicize her efforts to crack down on a particular Tea Party applicant. She created unprecedented roadblocks for Tea Party organizations, worked surreptitiously to advance new Obama Administration regulations that curtail the activities of existing 501(c)(4) organizations – all the while attempting to maintain an appearance that her efforts did not appear, in her own words, “per se political.”

I don’t care whether the President is Republican or Democrat. The politicization of the IRS is inexcusable and should be grounds for impeachment.

Furthermore, an example should be made of Lois Lerner. A very painful example.

Hat tip: BadBlue News

Doug Ross @ Journal

SEN. FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Obama White House Ordered CIA to Spy on Congress, an Impeachable Offense

Where are those styrofoam Grecian columns when you need them?

Senate Democrats are openly accusing the White House of ordering the CIA to spy on Congress during a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation.

As Rachel Maddow so aptly put it, this is “death of the Republic stuff.” The congressional committee tasked with overseeing the executive branch and our intelligence agencies is being spied upon and their investigations “interfered” with, and it’s coming straight from the White House, according to top Senate Democrat and Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein…

Say, I wonder if Feinstein is funded by the Koch brothers?

The Washington Post described Feinstein’s tirade, but omitted some key facets of the story.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the situation amounted to attempted intimidation of congressional investigators, adding: “I am not taking it lightly.”

She confirmed that an internal agency investigation of the action has been referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. And she said that the CIA appears to have violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as various federal laws and a presidential executive order that prevents the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance.

She has sought an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee’s computers was inappropriate, she said. “I have received neither,” she added.

MSNBC’s Adam Serwer added the information the Post was unwilling to mention:


Indeed, Feinstein’s website relates the blockbuster aspect of the story:

In May of 2010, the committee staff noticed that [certain] documents that had been provided for the committee’s review were no longer accessible. Staff approached the CIA personnel at the offsite location, who initially denied that documents had been removed. CIA personnel then blamed information technology personnel, who were almost all contractors, for removing the documents themselves without direction or authority. And then the CIA stated that the removal of the documents was ordered by the White House. When the committee approached the White House, the White House denied giving the CIA any such order…

…When the Internal Panetta Review documents disappeared from the committee’s computer system, this suggested once again that the CIA had removed documents already provided to the committee, in violation of CIA agreements and White House assurances that the CIA would cease such activities…

… I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the Speech and Debate clause. It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function.

Oh, now they’re worried about the Constitution.

Welcome to the party, pals.

Hat tip: BadBlue News

Doug Ross @ Journal

White House strikes “secret side deal” with Iran over nuclear issue, despite State Dept denials, reports L.A. Times. How will Congress & Israel react?

(whitehouseWashington, D.C.) — The Obama White House appears struck a previously undisclosed “side deal” with Iran over the nuclear issue, despite the fact that just yesterday a State Department spokeswoman denied such a deal existed.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting the existence of a secret 30-page document the spells out understandings between the U.S. and Iran regarding expectations of what Iran can and cannot do with its nuclear program, understanding not included in the official, public deal that is being negotiated in Geneva.

The Times indicates that according to the “secret side deal” worked out by the Obama administration:

  • not a single Iranian nuclear facility will be shut down
  • Iran will continue to enrich uranium
  • Iran’s nuclear research operations will actually expand; and
  • new, state-of-the-art centrifuges will be allowed to come on-line in Iran

Is this accurate? Is it the full picture? Will the document be released to the public, and to the full U.S. government and our allies?

Members of Congress are only just hearing about this now, and have yet to react.

No official reaction yet from Israel yet either, though the existence of a secret deal with Iran could add to the tensions between the Obama and Netanyahu governments over how to stop the mullahs in Tehran from being able to build operational nuclear warheads.

More on this story as it develops.

In the meantime, here are excerpts from the breaking news story out of Los Angeles:

“Key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials, Iran’s chief negotiator said Monday,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Abbas Araqchi disclosed the existence of the document in a Persian-language interview with the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency.”

“The new agreement, announced over the weekend, sets out a timetable for how Iran and the six nations, led by the United States, will implement a deal reached in November that is aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” the Times notes. “When officials from Iran and the world powers announced that they had completed the implementing agreement, they didn’t release the text of the deal, nor did they acknowledge the existence of an informal addendum. In the interview, Araqchi referred to the side agreement using the English word ‘nonpaper,’ a diplomatic term used for an informal side agreement that doesn’t have to be disclosed publicly. The nonpaper deals with such important details as the operation of a joint commission to oversee how the deal is implemented and Iran’s right to continue nuclear research and development during the next several months, he said.”…..

“Asked late Monday about the existence of the informal nonpaper, White House officials referred the question to the State Department,” reported the Times. “A State Department comment wasn’t immediately available…..A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, denied later Monday that there was any secret agreement.”….

“In his interview, Araqchi touched on the sensitive issue of how much latitude Iran will have to continue its nuclear research and development,” said the Times. “U.S. officials said Sunday that Iran would be allowed to continue existing research and development projects and with pencil-and-paper design work, but not to advance research with new projects. Araqchi, however, implied that the program would have wide latitude.”

“No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded,” he said. “All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”

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