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« Top Headline Comments 2-5-14 | Main | Wednesday Morning News Dump »
February 05, 2014

Obama: There Isn't Even A Smidgen Of Corruption At IRS
Lerner: I Exercise My Rights Under the Fifth Amendment

During his big Fox News interview on Sunday, President Obama claimed that there was "not even a smidgen of corruption" at IRS, just some "bone-headed" decision-making. This is understandably raising some eyebrows, particularly since just last May, he said that the targeting of conservative groups by IRS was "intolerable and inexcusable."

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole suggested that Obama had not even been briefed on the investigation into the IRS.

On Tuesday, Mr. Cole told the House Judiciary Committee that he doesn’t know what evidence Mr. Obama is using, but that nobody from the department briefed the president.

“Generally we do not brief elected officials,” Mr. Cole said.

That left Republicans with more questions for Mr. Obama.

“How can he be so sure, when it’s an ongoing investigation?” said Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican and chairman of a key investigative committee looking into both the IRS and the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the agency.

The Wall Street Journal, observing that we've gone from "inexcusable" to "bone-headed," rightly wonders, "If there was no corruption at IRS, why did Lois Lerner invoke her Fifth Amendment rights?"

But hey, if the President says it's all kosher and the FBI doesn't intend to pursue criminal charges in its probe of the selective IRS screening procedures, why should Ms. Lerner take the Fifth? Perhaps we'll get to hear what Ms. Lerner meant when she wrote in February 2011 emails that the tea party matter was "very dangerous" and that "Cincy should probably NOT have these cases."

This is quite right. Obama glibly tosses aside even the possibility of corruption in the IRS before the investigation is even complete while Lerner's decision to clam up actively prevented further investigation into her role in targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny and holding their applications in administrative limbo for longer than liberal groups.

We can and we should take the negative inference from Lerner's decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment. She had no reason to do so unless she believed a crime had been committed. I think we should take Lerner, who was present and involved in the event, at her word when she indicated that crimes might have been committed. Certainly Lerner is more credible on the topic than the President, who wasn't even briefed on the matter.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 08:24 AM

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