Fox 19 continues its investigative reporting into the scandal at the IRS office, focusing on the local Cincinnati office and filling in more of its organizational chart. Once again, the focus falles on Cindy Thomas, the highest-ranking official at this office. Thomas was two levels below Lois Lerner, but Fox 19’s sources within the IRS office say that the two worked very closely on policy:

FOX19.com-Cincinnati News, Weather

The puzzle seems to be focused rather closely on Lerner, despite the protestations of innocence that may have fatally undermined her Fifth Amendment claim. Assuming Fox 19’s sources are accurate, Lerner has close working ties with the person managing the unit where the abuse took place. She worked closely enough with IRS Commissioner Steve Miller to conduct the absurd question-planting strategy that blew up in the face of the IRS and magnified the scandal. That’s a lot of circumstantial or direct connection to arguably dishonest actions, and possibly more.

Darrell Issa will bring Lerner back to testify, even though she will continue to assert her Fifth Amendment right rather than answer questions. On the other hand, why did Lerner’s attorney allow her to make that opening statement that put her in jeopardy? Perhaps Lerner has more to say, and wanted to send a signal to the committee that it’s time to play Let’s Make a Deal. She may also worry what will happen when Thomas does get called to testify. We’ll see, but at the moment, she’s the connecting thread through all of this.