Do you remember what President Obama initially said about the Internal Revenue Service scandal? Do you recall his professed outrage?
Obama wanted us to know how furious he was. He said, "The misconduct that (the inspector general's report) uncovered is inexcusable." "It's inexcusable," he repeated, "and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency -- but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."
He declared that the "responsible parties" would be held "accountable." He reported that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew "took the first step by requesting -- and accepting -- the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS (Steven Miller) because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward." He said he had directed the agency to implement recommendations from the inspector general to ensure that this outrageous conduct would not be repeated.
Please don't snicker at this, but Obama also promised that his administration would work "hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed."
Be advised that he was reading from a prepared statement, which means he wasn't shooting from the hip and said precisely what he intended to say.
What has he done since? Let's just look at a few developments.
Former IRS official Lois Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid answering congressional questions. Just recently, her lawyer said she did so to avoid congressional bullying. I guess I was not in class the day my law school professor informed us that "fear of congressional bullying" is a legitimate basis on which to assert the privilege.
In January, we learned that the Justice Department selected Barbara Kay Bosserman, a strong political supporter of Obama's and contributor to him, to lead the criminal probe into the scandal. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Jordan sent a letter complaining, "The Department has created a startling conflict of interest."
In March, Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Obama had reneged on his promise to have his aides cooperate with the investigation, forcing the committee to conduct a dragnet for emails and documents needed to uncover the truth. He said federal agents conducting the investigation hadn't talked to a single target of the IRS at that point.
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