Just a day after arriving on Capitol Hill and insisting that she had done nothing wrong, Lois Lerner is again being proved a liar.
This time, the evidence comes in the form of this post by Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ, who has represented 27 Tea Party organizations in 17 states. He notes she sent 15 intrusive letters to four of his clients, including during the March-April 2012 time frame when Douglas Shulman was assuring Congress that no inappropriate targeting was going on. The IG report states that Lerner was briefed on the inappropriate criteria in June of 2011. That means she had to have been aware of what was going on -- and actively participating in it.
In addition, as Sekulow points out, contrary to claims by the administration, the harassment and abuse of Tea Party groups did not end in March of 2012. See the intrusive questions on this letter (2nd in grouping), dated May of 2013!
It is hard to overestimate the arrogance of Lois Lerner. There is no other viable theory except that she thought the IRS could lie to Congress and dissemble with the inspector general . . . and they'd never get caught. Makes you wonder what else has gone on that no one knows about . . . yet.
Michael Isikoff (a fine investigative journalist, who would have won a Pulitzer during l'affaire Lewinsky had it involved a Republican president) is reporting that Eric Holder himself signed off on the search warrant for James Rosen's emails.
But here's the problem. Today, in his speech, the President said,
Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law. That is why I have called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government over-reach. I have raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concern. So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and will convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review.
So, in other words, Holder is going to review policies he himself has pushed to the limit and presumably revise them? Isn't that a tacit admission that his actions were improper? And how does the President justify keeping him on if that's the case?
What's more, recall that Holder asserted that he had recused himself from the AP investigation, though somehow the paperwork confirming that recusal was, well, lost (nevertheless, he did nothing to stop it). Why would he recuse himself from the AP investigation, but not from the investigation into Fox News? Was it just that he didn't mind involving himself in the administration's "war on Fox"?
And just how "concern[ed]" can Holder be with "government over-reach" given his unprecedented trashing of the First Amendment in his pursuit of journalists?
How does this guy keep his job?
Could this possibly be setting the stage for a Memorial-Day-Friday Holder "resignation"?
Exit Dream: that some enterprising soul in the House Judiciary Committee has the gumption to ask Holder if he really -- as stated in the affidavit to get the warrant on Rosen -- that James Rosen really constituted a flight risk.
Although the president’s counterterrorism speech on Thursday may have been nothing more than an attempt to distract the American public and news media from the three scandals plaguing his administration, Sen. Saxby Chambliss believes the speech was significant in the sense that it will be “viewed by terrorists as a victory.”
The senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee said President Obama's national security speech will be "viewed by terrorists as a victory."
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) made the remarks in a statement released moments after Obama's speech. He focused his criticism on Obama's plans to move toward closing the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp.
"We knew five years ago that closing Guantanamo was a bad idea and would not work," Chambliss said. "Yet, today’s speech sends the message to Guantanamo detainees that if they harass the dedicated military personnel there enough, we will give in and send them home, even to Yemen.
Fifty-six of the 166 detainees are from Yemen--where AQAP operates. Republicans cautioned that the release of detainees to the country ‘still carries too great of a security risk’ given the fact that 25 percent of the detainees released from Guantanamo have gone back into the fight. But pressure is mounting on the Obama administration to close Guantanamo as the remaining prisoners have begun a hunger strike.
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said that to close Guantánamo, he wants to know “what the president intends to do with those terrorist detainees who are too dangerous to release but cannot be tried; how he will ensure terrorists transferred overseas do not return to the fight, and what he will do with terrorists we will capture in the future.”
President Obama delivered a "major" address on US counter-terrorism policies today at the National Defense University in Washington. It was largely devoid of any real news. The professorial president (a) spoke contemplatively about interest balancing -- some instances of which pose legitimate quandaries -- (b) defended his administration's heavy use of drone strikes as an effective, legal and proportional means of fighting terrorism, and (c) renewed calls to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay. As I said, nothing new. The speech was a blend of sound policy, thoughtful analysis, rank hypocrisy, bad ideas and occasional incoherence. It was framed as an attempt to break free from both the Clinton administration's pre-9/11 mentality that left us vulnerable to attack, and the post-9/11 mindset of the Bush administration. Unsurprisingly, Obama touted his abolition of so-called "torture" (without mentioning that some of the now-proscribed harsh measures helped break the mastermind of 9/11 and bring Osama bin Laden to justice). He also vigorously justified using a drone strike to kill Al-Qaeda leader and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. He did not mention the other three Americans that have met the same fate. If Obama hoped his remarks would shift the narrative away from his administration's scandals, I'm skeptical he'll succeed far past tonight's evening news. I more or less agree with this:
This speech will be forgotten in three hours. Distraction over.— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) May 23, 2013
Who is Christopher J. Meade? The short answer: Acting Chief Counsel of the Treasury. Here's his bio.
Why does he matter? Well, it seems that White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler met repeatedly with him three times last year -- including once before the election (September 27, 2012), according to Charles Johnson of the Daily Caller.
Given that Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin had been informed by the Inspector General about the IRS probe over the summer of 2012, it is almost inconceivable that Meade wouldn't have told Ruemmler about such a potentially disastrous political issue before the election.
So it seems that Mr. Meade has now bought himself a ticket to a congressional hearing. It would be interesting to what they discussed.
Incidentally, Johnson's piece references left-wing activism by Meade while he was at Princeton. We overlapped during our time there, and I don't really recall hearing about him. In fairness, though, by spring of '89, I had retired from my post at The Daily Princetonian and was busy writing my thesis.
When all else fails, blame George W. Bush for everything.
"You say it happened on his watch. It happened on the appointment of the head of the IRS, who was appointed by President Bush," Pelosi said. "His length of stay extended into President Obama’s stay, but I think that that points to the fact that, why is this a politicized issue, because we all are concerned about how the IRS does what it’s supposed to do, supports the law, but does not do it in a selective way."
Pelosi referred to a Bush appointee. That appointee is former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman. As a reminder, Shulman was appointed by Bush but has donated his money to Democrats.
This would be an A-list political story if it weren't buried beneath the avalanche of scandal that's consumed the nation's attention and undermined the president's approval ratings in recent weeks. We reported on Monday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is maneuvering to execute the so-called "nuclear option" on filibusters of executive appointments, perhaps as soon as July. Since the game plan was initially sketched out by a liberal blogger in the Washington Post (who also confirmed that the White House has bestowed its blessing on the power grab), more circumstantial evidence has emerged that appears to confirm Reid's intentions:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that he will delay votes on several of President Obama’s nominees for key posts until July, a decision raising the prospect that he’ll seek further changes to Senate rules that would allow executive appointments to be confirmed by a simple majority. Senate leaders had considered holding a vote this week to confirm Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a nomination Republicans have maintained they would filibuster unless the Obama administration agreed to overhaul the agency. Action is also pending on two of Obama’s Cabinet nominations — Thomas E. Perez for Labor secretary and Gina McCarthy for EPA administrator — after party-line votes in Senate committees last week. Two other Cabinet picks face confirmation hearings later this week. At his weekly news conference, Reid told reporters that he would not bring those nominations to the full Senate until after it considers two major pieces of legislation, the farm bill and comprehensive immigration reform. “So we'll have to look at July,” he said, with the possible exception of a pending nominee for the D.C. Court of Appeals. “We're going to make sure that all the nominees have votes.”
Senate Democrats may be itching to hit the nuclear trigger more than ever in light of two federal courts' repudiations of the president's unconstitutional "recess" appointments made while Congress was not technically in recess. Regardless of their motives, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is already warning Reid that any further action to curtail the rights of the minority would effectively "blow up" the institution of the Senate. In a floor speech this morning, McConnell tied Democrats' potential filibuster power grab to the federal government's "culture of intimidation" playing out in living color at the IRS, HHS, and DOJ:
“For example, Senate Democrats were incensed that Republicans had the temerity to exercise their Advice and Consent responsibility to block a grand total of one — that’s right, one — nominee to the D.C. Circuit. What did our Democrat colleagues do in response? They consulted with the White House and pledged to pack the D.C. Circuit with appointees, quote, ‘one way or the other’ — meaning using the nuclear option...
The Senate has confirmed 19 of the President’s judicial nominees so far this year. By this point in his second term, President Bush had a grand total of four judicial confirmations.
Moreover, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee just voted unanimously to support the President’s current nomination to the D.C. Circuit. And the Senate Republican Conference agreed yesterday to hold an up and down vote on his nomination, which has only been on the Executive Calendar since Monday, to occur after the Memorial Day Recess. That way, Members who do not serve on the Judiciary Committee could have a week to evaluate this important nomination. Instead, the Majority Leader chose to jam the Minority—he rejected our offer for an up or down vote and filed cloture on the nomination just one day after it appeared on the Executive Calendar...
And regarding nominees generally, Senate Republicans have been willing to work with the President to get his team in place:
The Secretary of Energy was confirmed 97 to 0.
The Secretary of the Interior was confirmed 87 to 11.
The Secretary of the Treasury was confirmed 71 to 26.
The Director of the [OMB] was confirmed 96 to 0.
And the Secretary of State was confirmed 94 to 3—just 7 days after the Senate received his nomination. So these continued threats to use the nuclear option point to the Majority’s own culture of intimidation here in the Senate. Their view is that you had better confirm the people we want, when we want them, or we’ll break the rules of the Senate to change the rules so you can’t stop us. So much for respecting the rights of the minority. So much for a meaningful application of Advice and Consent."
How ironic? In what will inevitably invoke comparisons to the 2009 Iranian election protests, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denounced the government’s decision to bar his chief aid from entering the upcoming election. The Associated Press reports that Ahmadinejad will use all his remaining political clout to challenge the right for his confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei to seek candidacy.
Other Iranian reformers with more progressive platforms were also left off the list, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was removed from contention after government officials feared that his name might spark up renewed uprisings. The recent political strife in Iran has led to a released statement from Iran's police chief, Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, who was quoted this week by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying it was "permissible to spill the blood" of anyone opposing Iran's system called "velayat-e-faqih," loosely translated as rule of the clerics.
The Iranian president, known for his inflammatory threats against Western views, is desperately attempting to hang on to power as the end of his term nears. According to the AP:
“Ahmadinejad — once seen as firmly within the theocracy's fold — is now viewed by the leadership as a troublesome maverick after trying to challenge the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad's attempt to expand the presidential reach was a costly miscalculation. It collapsed his standing with Khamenei — who stood by him during the 2009 riots and protests — and greatly undercut his influence. Dozens of his allies have been arrested or politically marginalized.”
Though Ahmadinejad has promised to fight this self-described “injustice”, his only alternative move would be to appeal directly to the Ayatollah—an unlikely strategy following his recent outbursts. And while political analysts believe Ahmadinejad could form his own opposition faction, the party’s views wouldn’t differ much from the status quo, and would be a matter of self-preservation for the weakened president.
The title of “president” in Iran is often misunderstood as the top position in Iran when actually the Ayatollah, elected by an assembly of clerics, maintains the final say in all decisions. The current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his Guardian Council are tasked with whittling down the list of over 600 presidential hopefuls.
Iran is host to a number of diverse political factions from ultra-conservative to liberal leaning, but their voices are seldom heard. The Guardian Council enjoys operating under the guise of a democracy, and will inevitably select presidential nominees that fall in line with their own ideology.
The 2009 Iranian protests marked one of the first times a non-Ayatollah sponsored nominee, a member of the Green Movement, had threatened the balance of power in Iran. The rebellion quieted down after the United States and other Western powers refused to lend support. Ayatollah Khamenei was eventually forced to step in and denied repeated requests for an appeal.
Iran appears to be headed for the same economic woes and acidic foreign policy that have tarnished the countries reputation over the past decade. It’s only fitting that President Ahmadinejad, the man whose government defended him during a rigged election, has decided to accuse them of the very same exploit—reiterating the continued narrative of a dysfunctional country suffering from its own hypocrisy.
Yesterday the head of tax exempt organizations at the IRS, Lois Lerner, made an opening statement before the House Oversight Committee claiming she had "done nothing wrong" and then proceeded to plead the Fifth surrounding the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Now, according to counsel and Chairman Darrell Issa, because Lerner made and opening statement before invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, she effectively waived her right to do so and will be called back before the committee to testify. Lerner is also still under subpoena.
Republican Representative Darrell Issa said on Thursday he will call Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner back to testify before his committee on the IRS-Tea Party scandal after she asserted her constitutional right not to answer questions.
"We are obligated to bring Lerner back because she did not properly take the Fifth (Amendment)," Issa said.
"She clearly chose to make her statements and then not open herself up to even any questioning as to the statement she made," said Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
According to a new Rasmussen Report, the majority of Americans believe other agencies outside of the IRS also targeted conservatives. The report also shows the majority of Americans believe the IRS targeting came from Washington and directly from the White House, not a few "low-level" employees Cincinnati.
Most voters think the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to target conservative groups was made in Washington, D.C. and that it wasn’t the only government agency going after these groups.
Just 20% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the IRS’ explanation thus far that low-level employees at its Cincinnati office made the decision to target the conservative groups. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% think the orders came from Washington, with 26% who think the decision was made by someone at IRS headquarters and 39% who believe someone who works at the White House made the call.
Sixty-seven percent (67%) of GOP voters think the decision to have the IRS target these conservative groups was made by someone at the White House, and a plurality (41%) of unaffiliated voters agree. Only 13% of Democrats share that assessment.
Suggesting a very high level of skepticism, 60% think it’s at least somewhat likely that other government agencies also targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups. Just 30% consider this unlikely. This includes 39% who say it’s Very Likely other government agencies were involved and only nine percent (9%) who feel it’s Not At All Likely.
Perhaps most stunning is the fact that 37% of Democrats think it likely that other agencies were used to target conservative groups.
In terms of conservatives being targeted by federal agencies, we already have evidence of that with True the Vote's experience.
The group received an unprecedented level of scrutiny from the IRS since its original application for 501(c3) status was filed in 2010. The IRS sent rounds of questions over several years that went as far as demanding to see each and every tweet Engelbrecht had ever sent out and each and every speech she had ever given.
The IRS did not stop there. They demanded to know who had spoken at the group and to see each and every speech the speakers had given. They demanded to know the identities of all members of the group and who had attended their meetings. The list of probing and outlandish questions was exhaustive.
Soon, the IRS began to audit Engelbrecht’s family business and her personally. And the scrutiny from the federal government did not stop with the IRS.
Two DOJ agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) began to make their presence felt in Engelbrecht’s life as well.
“They [FBI] contacted us, asked questions about one of the people who attended a program," Engelbrecht told Breitbart News. "They asked for us to call if he ever showed back up. They repeated [their calls] over time, but no longer about that individual. They said they were just calling to check up with us. They called to check up with us a great deal and said it was ‘routine."