Open thread, live video: Oversight hearing into IRS non-scandal featuring official taking the Fifth

posted at 9:21 am on May 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The House Oversight Committee will gavel itself into session at 9:30 am ET, according to C-SPAN, in order to take testimony on the IRS’ targeting of conservatives in its tax-exempt enforcement.  They won’t get much from Lois Lerner, formerly a pretty big fan of Q&A sessions — when she can plant the questions and prepare the answers. This time, Lerner plans to plead the Fifth as the scandal deepens:

The IRS official in charge of the division accused of improperly targeting conservative groups will invoke her Fifth Amendment rights against compelled self-incrimination at a committee hearing Wednesday, a sign of concern that the political controversy is heading into the criminal arena.

Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS Exempt Organization Division, is still expected to appear at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing but will refuse to answer questions, citing the criminal investigation into IRS actions.

Ali Ahmed, a spokesman for Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Lerner’s attorney had sent the panel a letter but he said Issa “remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.”

The announcement signaled a potentially dramatic turn in a controversy that has embroiled Capitol Hill and the IRS since the release last week of an inspector general’s reporting describing actions by IRS workers over several years to single out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status and subject them to intrusive questioning.

Lerner’s attorney tried to get her subpoena revoked by informing Darrell Issa that she would refuse to provide any information.  Congressional committees will sometimes excuse witnesses rather than forcing them to plead the Fifth in person, but Issa understands the power of this moment.  While the IRS program has generated considerable outrage, some still insist that it doesn’t mean much, and question whether any laws really got broken at all.  Having a bureaucrat plead the Fifth on national television makes a pretty good argument that something was going on at the IRS that wasn’t entirely legal.

That’s not to say that there will be much accountability in the end.  Not only has no one been fired at the IRS, but no one has even been disciplined — not even with a strongly-worded memo:

“Why weren’t more people fired?” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) demanded at a hearing Tuesday on the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, channeling the frustration of his colleagues.

Turns out it’s not so easy.

In fact, it appears that no one has been formally reprimanded and a spokesperson for the union representing IRS workers said it hasn’t been called to help any employees yet. Most employees involved in the targeting program are covered by protections for federal workers that could drag out the termination process.

The pressure is building: Lois Lerner, the director of the tax-exempt division at the IRS that oversaw the controversial program, will invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The GOP is also calling for the resignation of Sarah Hall Ingram, an official who used to work in the tax-exempt division and who now oversees the agency’s implementation of the health care overhaul.

It’s not just the bureaucratic obstacles that are at issue, either.  The agency itself isn’t exactly jumping through hoops to make itself accountable to Congress, either.  CNS News reports that the IRS missed a deadline to provide documentation to another Congressional committee, and in fact hasn’t even bothered to respond to the demand letter:

In a May 14 letter signed by Chairman Dave Camp and Ranking Member Sander Levin, the House Ways and Means Committee demanded precisely those records from the IRS. In the same letter, the committee also demanded the records of any communications between IRS and the Treasury on the matter, plus other information and records that would help the committee understand the facts about IRS actions that subjected to heightened scrutiny conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin gave the IRS a deadline of Tuesday, May 21 to comply with their committee’s demand for the information and records.

The IRS–which requires working Americans to file their tax returns by an April 15 deadline each year or else face penalties–did not comply with this deadline imposed by the congressional committee that has oversight over its activities.

“The Committee has not received a response to the Camp-Levin letter,” House Ways and Means Spokeswoman Sarah Swinehart told CNSNews.com late Tuesday after the IRS had closed for business for the day.

The Senate sent its own demand letter with a deadline of May 31st.  We’ll see if they miss that deadline, too — which will mean both chambers of Congress may start breaking out the subpoenas, and more bureaucrats may start taking the Fifth.

Update: Here’s the live video, from Oversight itself (note: the CBS feed works better, replaced):

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Comment pages: 1 7 8 9

143 unauthorized disclosures…were they leaks from the IRS – Massie

My lawyer says I can’t answer that – IG

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Go Massie!!!! There are 90k employees in the IRS, and 70,000 pages in the tax code, and therein lies the real problem.

smellthecoffee on May 22, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Shrink the IRS…Reform and simplify the Tax Code because Congress created this monster – Massie to Issa

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Stupid leftist is lecturing nonsense.

Schadenfreude on May 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Gimme Donor’s names so they can pay taxes – Grisham

Issa schools this idiot

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Mr. Chairman allow me to continue to confirm my stupidity as I demand these donors names… – Grisham

Mr. George please instruct the tardlady – Issa

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Love Trey. The platinum Fox! Love his hair.

wyntre9 on May 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

James Traficant vs. Trey Gowdy for the Battle of the Hairs!

Anti-Control on May 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Not allowed to ask for donors’ lists – but they did do just that.

Schadenfreude on May 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM

I presume the young lady is satisfied by that clarifcation? – Issa

No – Grisham

OK remedial level will be sent to you…in large print with a tutor – Issa

Let’s move on

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Meadows is rattling the IG

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:49 PM

This didn’t just happen…You briefed general counsel a year ago – Meadows

yeah…but not completely – IG

so it was a courtesy call?

yeah – IG

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:52 PM

So this was all because of collective bargaining?

Holly was requested to leave – IG

She was in 36 of 41 audit interviews was this standard protocol.

I’m not aware…- IG

This was in your report are you not aware of your report submitted to us?

Ummm…I gotta get back to you after I ummm… – IG

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 2:54 PM

That was a big deal. THe audit interviews were done with IRS henchmen in the room.

BoxHead1 on May 22, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I worked at the IRS. No one at the bottom of the food chain is allowed to create a form to be completed by taxpayers. Wherever a form is created, it is signed off by higher ups. It is given a form number, which is recorded.

All the BS questioning the top of the food chain is show trial because the big dogs are going to lie to the death. Good politics

All they need to do is go to Cincinnati, put the small fry envelope stuffers under oath, and work your way up the food chain until someone breaks, or someone falls on the sword for the Messiah.

I understand they need to expose the big shots, but at some point, if the small fry feel they are off the hook, they are not going to slow down for the next election. It will be some other kind of harassment. The IRS is the biggest Blue State.

For all the huff, the hearings are showing liberal IRS emloyees their party will do whatever it takes to protect them from real scrutiny. The IG specializes in doing zero. Someone has to shake the bottom of the tree before the next election

You think an Obama Sec of Treasury will crack down? He will look the other way

entagor on May 22, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Hmmmmm put his finger right on the issues at hand.

petunia on May 22, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Was that a Dem stressing what TEA stands for ?

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:04 PM

So teaching about the bill of rights and the Constitution is a political act Mr. Smirky? – Bentivolio a former teacher.

Did you study the constitution smirky…do you know the 1st. 2nd. 9th amendments?

I went to law school – smirky

Do you know what T.E.A in tea party stands for smirky?

I do not – smirky

It stands for Taxed enough already – Bentivolio

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Issa tying up the IRS being present in the interviews…

Issa just Nailed the IG on the presence of agents and combining potential witnesses during the investigation…

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:06 PM

This IRS henchman in the audit interviews is not a small detail and Issa knows it.

BoxHead1 on May 22, 2013 at 3:06 PM

This IRS henchman in the audit interviews is not a small detail and Issa knows it.

BoxHead1 on May 22, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Yep!

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM

36 out of 41 interviews…

collusion…maybe?

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM

I’ve been impressed by how many corners the committe’s been able to paint these dudes into.
Then, I wake up and realize they’re working with IRS officials, and that it just can’t be helped !
LOL
Idjits.

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:10 PM

36 out of 41 interviews…

collusion…maybe?

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Maybe the IG assumed at the time that all this was a careless mistakes and isolated to low level employees. Maybe it was an error of judgement.

They need to do the real investigation because the IG’s is definitely not an “investigation”.

BoxHead1 on May 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM

DeSantis asking smirky about meeting POTUS

Yeah…but I don’t remember anything really…- smirky

46 out of 118 meetings were about healthcare was that about specifically Obamacare?

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Have to thank those of you posting the Q&As and byplay for those of us who cannot watch – Thank you very much!

kim roy on May 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Maybe the IG assumed at the time that all this was a careless mistakes and isolated to low level employees. Maybe it was an error of judgement.

They need to do the real investigation because the IG’s is definitely not an “investigation”.

BoxHead1 on May 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Maybe the IG was bullied into allowing it and got caught being an impotent IG?

Hillary tried to sneak her lawyers into the witness interviews on Benghazi remember…they were removed.

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM

They just need to stonewall for another two weeks, and then the MSM will call this story “old news”.

ardenenoch on May 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I think the IG will be chatting with a lawyer?

He tainted his investigation if he allowed witnesses to attend eachother’s audit interviews.

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Maybe the IG was bullied into allowing it and got caught being an impotent IG?

Hillary tried to sneak her lawyers into the witness interviews on Benghazi remember…they were removed.

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I could see that. Someone should ask IG who requested the overseer.

Shulman and the other prick ,Miller, say the IRS tries to avoid mettling with the the IG at all cost. But it seems someone in IRS(WH) was intent on influencing the report so that’s a contradiction.

BoxHead1 on May 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Cummings jumps in to apply jedi mind trick and remind us all to focus on new reforms…trying to dull Issa’s sharp cornering of the IG.

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM

So the IRS employees need more training so that they understand targeting people because of their political beliefs is wrong? “I’m sorry your honor, I must need more training in the law so that I understand that I was wrong for committing armed robbery.”

bandutski on May 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Meadows returns…

Marks is special advisor Sarah Hall is now over our healthcare?

mutter sputter – smirky

Meadows says Coverup!

Xcellent!

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM

could see that. Someone should ask IG who requested the overseer.

Shulman and the other prick ,Miller, say the IRS tries to avoid mettling with the the IG at all cost. But it seems someone in IRS(WH) was intent on influencing the report so that’s a contradiction.

BoxHead1 on May 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM

IG was swimming until he started treading water…Issa nailed him!

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Jordan is nailing the IG cause maybe the IG was acting political in an election year…

Boom!

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Jim Jordan also laying into the IG for not bringing info to the Oversight Committee….good for him.

CoffeeLover on May 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM

The Obama administration is a criminal enterprise.

AZCoyote on May 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Issa…I’m gonna come after your a$$ Mr. George.

Got it…we can speak offline about that – IG

Sure – Issa

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Boom.

Lerner is toast.

ElectricPhase on May 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Oh Yeah, Issa – We’ll recall Lerner, in recess not adjourned. Sweet

D-fusit on May 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

so based on what happened with Lois Lerner today, this hearing is in recess and not adjourned.

thanks everyone. I enjoyed reading your input.

CoffeeLover on May 22, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Issa is tying up how Lerner F*cked her 5th amendment plea with her opening statement and by falling into my neat little evidential authentication trap…so we’ll all be back…

Xcellent job!

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Uh oh, I hope that lady makes it back without any “accidents”.

Wagthatdog on May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Issa on Lerner .. Here we go.

Her opening statement waived her right to 5th, according to Gowdy .. Will study, recall her and insist on answers..
Mtg ‘in recess, but NOT adjourned’

COOLNESS !

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Boom.

Lerner is toast.

ElectricPhase on May 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Boom what. Lost the video…

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Cocktail time!

CTSherman on May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Quite a day, but well worth paying close attention to.

Good job, committee !!!!

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Lerner is toast…she’ll look to cut a deal.

workingclass artist on May 22, 2013 at 3:31 PM

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

RED on top of DRUDGE

D-fusit on May 22, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Oh. Recall Lerner. Should be a circus.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:32 PM

This hearing available in CSPAN.org vault.
Lerner’s statement running ATM. (tv)

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Wow. If this was covered in smell-a-vision you’d have to turn the smell volume down because I’d bet a few people just pooped their pants.

I wish there was a melodramatic organ player in the back of the room.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Armed ‘Homeland’ Guards Protect IRS From Tea Party Protesters…

The Obama administration uses the IRS to violate the Constitution, trample people’s rights, harrass/intimidate/abuse people/groups, & basically make the lives of Conservatives, Tea Party members & Jews a living nightmare … and now Obama’s ‘Stormtroopers’ are protecting the PERPETRATORS from the VICTIMS!

…Of course the TEA Party has demonstrated how violent it has been since its inception, compared to the Liberal ‘Occupy’ groups that have engaged in rape, murder, drug dealing, destruction of property, etc at THEIR rallies/marches! (Rolling my eyes)

BOTTOM LINE: The Obama administration took an oath vowing to uphold and defend the Constitution, to protect and enforce the Rule of Law, and to protect this nation & the American people. Instead it has preyed upon the American people, violated the Constution, and broken the very laws it swore to uphold…and now is using his ‘Stormtroopers’ to protect the criminals against the victims!

easyt65 on May 22, 2013 at 3:37 PM

I wish there was a melodramatic organ player in the back of the room.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:35 PM

You mean there isn’t ?
What’s that I’m hearing, then ?
ROFLOL.

Whew boy !

If it wasn’t for HA, I would have missed this, cuz I didn’t read the CSPAN schedule correctly.
Thanks for that, guys

PLEASE don’t let us miss the next one !
:-)

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Issa – We’ll recall Lerner

GO TO JAIL, GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL, DO NOT PASS ‘GO’, DO NOT COLLECT ANYMORE TAXES!

easyt65 on May 22, 2013 at 3:39 PM

OOOPS, quote fail.

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:39 PM

CBS loses the feed?

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Photogs. Must be important. Capturing the moment someone roles over possibly? How did they know when to be available?

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Since it’s over for today, don’t know why CBS would be showing anything now.

pambi on May 22, 2013 at 3:42 PM

If you are rejoining us today, our heroin Lois Lerner has just been recalled by the evil Republicans. Recalled even though she did no wrong. (Oh my!)

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Not over. Just reconvened with Lerner at the table.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:43 PM

CSPAN seems to be working if CBS isn’t.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Check out Drudge left side linkies for fun facts about IG. Wow.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Wow. Another investigation had been done. Yikes. Done in May of 2012. Uh-oh…

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:49 PM

They are replaying the Lerner segment during the break

I am getting flashbacks to particular rotten arrogant, brain dead management I had to work with at IRS. When a mistake happen they had to find a chump to skewer.

I am getting PTDS watching… Lerner has the rot to be in the gang

Everyone who is enjoying Lerner’s 5th amendment slip. Wonder if this was setup by her atty’s (coordinated wi the party) to change the conversation and turn her into a victim. This is something the MSNBCs could run with – using a technicality to beat up on a female

It was too easy. Staged, like she staged her leak. And let it be known she had staged her leak.

Methinks the SOBs are pulling the toilet chain again

Fair Warning

entagor on May 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

She’s back at the table now. Cummings blather.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:54 PM

She’s back in the hot seat.

Now it’s going to be only “I take the 5th”. Get ready.

Schadenfreude on May 22, 2013 at 3:58 PM

She’s back at the table now. Cummings blather.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Replay from this morning.

BacaDog on May 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Issa should say that they were called “teabaggers” even by Obama himself.

Schadenfreude on May 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

OHhhh…carp.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 4:03 PM

RePosting from the org chart thread:

Let me be clear. At no time was the Obama administration aware of what the Obama administration was doing or to whom they were doing it. Anyone who says differently is a conspiracy theorist wacko and a racist.

VorDaj on May 22, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Got a good photo emailed to me last night of one of the recent TEA Party protesters.
His sign said:
“Let’s Waterboard Obama and find out if he knows ANYTHING”

dentarthurdent on May 22, 2013 at 4:03 PM

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