LA Times: We need an independent investigator for the IRS

posted at 12:01 pm on June 25, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Just a few days ago, the White House was dismissing the IRS scandal and the sudden disappearance of e-mails from seven key figures as “Republicans … floating a conspiracy theory.” That explanation didn’t fly with the Los Angeles Times, not exactly a bastion of conservative thought in liberal Southern California. The editorial board takes a “pox upon both houses” approach to the “partisan sniping” over the scandal, but also says that an independent investigation is the only way to deal with it:

After more than a year of scrutiny, three congressional committees continue to flail away at the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of conservative nonprofit groups without producing any definitive answers to the questions they’ve raised. This page worried at the outset that the investigations would become too politicized to get to the bottom of the scandal. The result, however, has been even worse: Not only have two House probes disintegrated into partisan sniping, but the IRS further damaged its own credibility by belatedly disclosing the disappearance of two years’ worth of emails belonging to a key agency figure who has refused to talk to Congress. It’s past time to turn over the inquiry to an independent investigator who can dig up the truth and, if possible crimes are revealed, refer matters to federal prosecutors.

Note, though, that this is not a call for an independent prosecutor, despite the clear indication of a cover-up:

[I]t’s impossible to feel any sympathy for the agency when it waited four months before telling Congress that several computer hard drives had crashed in mid-2011, wiping out emails stored by Lois Lerner and six other key employees.

Why an agency that relies on record-keeping would keep such limited records is a mystery, as is how such an important trail of evidence disappeared before the scandal hit. But neither Congress nor the administration has given much reason to be trusted to unravel them. Instead, the situation cries out for the appointment of someone with a track record of sorting through complex problems to figure out what happened and who’s responsible. Although it’s tempting to demand a special prosecutor, as some Republicans have done, such efforts in the past have come at great expense and with wildly mixed results. A prosecutor also may be required by ethics rules to keep some findings secret, which is the opposite of the transparency needed here. Better to call on a trusted and energetic figure who can conduct a vigorous inquiry, with no questions about his or her motives.

There are a couple of problems with this approach. First, under existing law and the Constitution, the authority to conduct an investigation into the executive branch lies with Congress. The Department of Justice certainly also has the authority to probe criminal behavior at the IRS, Treasury, and even the White House, but this Department of Justice has made it clear that it has no intention of doing so. Unfortunately, that’s the same DoJ that would have to sign off on an independent investigator, and then prosecute based on his/her findings.

Second, even if the Obama administration buckled under the growing pressure caused by the arrogance and hypocrisy coming from the IRS — pressure that produced this editorial, certainly — to appoint an independent investigator, what kind of a “trusted and energetic figure” would get selected? And if that figure began energetically digging up actual criminal conduct and political manipulation of the IRS, how long would he or she remain a “trusted” figure? At what point would media outlets begin wringing their hands about “overreach” and “partisan sniping,” rather than focus on the fact that the IRS targeted political opponents of the administration and then had the records of that effort conveniently and oh-so-coincidentally disappear? The LA Times editorial board couldn’t even concentrate on the real story for an entire four-paragraph editorial calling for outside investigators.

Without the power to prosecute independent of the DoJ, an outside investigator would only be useful to derail the House probes into the IRS scandal. As much partisan sniping that has produced, it has also exposed IRS stonewalling and White House demagoguery that is obstructing the legitimate oversight functions of Congress against abuses of power by agencies that share in legislative and executive authority. Better to keep it there than to have it die a slow death in the dark with an outside effort that has no authority to deal with its findings.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Boner, the pig, will be on it, pronto.

Schadenfreude on June 25, 2014 at 12:04 PM

The dream and the nightmare

Schadenfreude on June 25, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Too bad the LA Times doesn’t support an independent press. That would go a long way in uncovering abuses.

Flange on June 25, 2014 at 12:06 PM

The USA
Today!!!

Schadenfreude on June 25, 2014 at 12:06 PM

What ails the USA, among 1001 other reasons.

Schadenfreude on June 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

It seems as though Obama’s best cabinet pick has been Holder.
Until he is implicated, nothing will come of this.

mjbrooks3 on June 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

But, but, Holder investigated himself and found nothing wrong. You mean we can’t take him at his word? Shocka!

Diluculo on June 25, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Lotsa luck. This would be like if OJ were the district attorney that you needed to convince to investigate the Nicole Brown murder trial.

crrr6 on June 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Note, though, that this is not a call for an independent prosecutor, despite the clear indication of a cover-up:

This is a call for a pseudo independent cover up of Impeachable offenses by the Obama Administration.

oscarwilde on June 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Holder is on it, he has assigned Koskinen to perform a full investigation on himself, the results of which will be lost eventually.

What more do you bigots expect?

Bishop on June 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Without the power to prosecute independent of the DoJ, an outside investigator would only be useful to derail the House probes into the IRS scandal.

Bingo!

wifarmboy on June 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Holder is on it, he has assigned Koskinen to perform a full investigation on himself, the results of which will be lost eventually.

What more do you bigots expect?

Bishop on June 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM

How about… Having the Washington DC police arrest and incarcerate anyone convinced of being in contempt of Congress? Perhaps we would get a glimpse of what a smidgen of corruption really looks like then?

oscarwilde on June 25, 2014 at 12:15 PM

I’d suspect ANYTHING the LA Times recommends doing.

Harbingeing on June 25, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Throw him under his own bus, dems. You know you want to. Or are you just as lawless as he is?

Yeah, thought so.

CurtZHP on June 25, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Krauthammer is right. Give Lerner amnesty and force her to rat out all her co-conspirators.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

This is a liberal tactic in action: Ignore/dismiss Obama scandals, while your friends in the media either don’t cover them at all or cover them quickly and minimally.

Anyone who steps into the void to expose the scandal — a congressional committee, conservative media — dismiss as partisan.

Repeat.

So when the L.A. Times tells you “two House probes disintegrated into partisan sniping” and “neither Congress nor the administration has given much reason to be trusted to unravel them” they should be a bit more precise.

FishingwFredo on June 25, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Where is the Khalidi tape, L.A. Times? Release that, and I may consider your pages for something more than lining a bird cage.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on June 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Without the power to prosecute independent of the DoJ, an outside investigator would only be useful to derail the House probes into the IRS scandal.

Sorry, I don’t buy it. If that was the case, the White House would have already cherry picked the prosecutor and the story would die.

This excuse falls prey to being too smart by half.

chuckfinlay on June 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Andrew McCarthy says: impeach corrupt IRS officials.

The IRS is deeply unpopular with the public and many Americans are offended by the Democrats’ use of an intimidating bureaucracy to harass their fellow citizens — they may not be conservatives, but they know it could happen to them, too. Republicans, and any Democrats who still put their duty to the Constitution above their party loyalty, should be taking meaningful action. Let congressional Democrats defend the IRS and any other corrupt officials in the run-up to the midterm elections if that’s what they want to do.

So, Republicans: Impeach them now, worry about prosecuting them later . . . and please stop whining as if you are powerless to do anything.

Rancher on June 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM

It’s time for the IRS to go. They are too big, too powerful. We’ll do just fine with a flat tax or a VAT.

Old eagle on June 25, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Unfortunately, that’s the same DoJ that would have to sign off on an independent investigator, and then prosecute based on his/her findings

…no problem!…just get another independent ‘bundler’ investigator…and the DOJ will sign off.

JugEarsButtHurt on June 25, 2014 at 12:26 PM

No Sh*t!!!!

canopfor on June 25, 2014 at 12:27 PM

A special prosecutor / Congressional investigation is just one way of pursuing the massive malfeasance and criminal activity undertaken in the IRS since 2009 in the name of political expediency and advantage.

There are numerous private suits underway from individuals and organizations that were illegally targeted by the IRS that are making their way through the DC Circuit – and these are likely going to to be the best bet to hold the IRS, its criminal administrators, and exposing those within the Administration outside the IRS accountable for their roles in not only the illegal targeting of conservative organizations, but the willful obstructions of justice related to the loss / destruction of evidence despite litigation holds and existing federal record keeping laws.

Ultimately, this needs to expand to include those members of Congress, all senior Democrats in both the House and Senate, who are on record demanding the IRS abuse its power in the wake of the Citizen’s United SCOTUS decision to target, marginalize, and harass conservative political organizations in order to influence the 2012 election cycle.

Let’s also note that the WH and President also are on record threatening to use the power of the executive branch to offset the effects of the Citizen’s United ruling – and emails from former IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram to other IRS officials, including Lois Lerner, indicate that the IRS undertook it’s abuses of power to target conservative organizations in direct coordination with the political push by the WH and the Democrats in Congress.

People have been convicted based on circumstantial evidence before – and the circumstantial evidence remains damning to this Administration and numerous senior IRS officials.

Athos on June 25, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Too little…

… Too late.

Seven Percent Solution on June 25, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Holder would pick Rev Wright as Special Prosecutor

faraway on June 25, 2014 at 12:31 PM

So, Republicans: Impeach them now, worry about prosecuting them later . . . and please stop whining as if you are powerless to do anything.

Rancher on June 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM

But without whining, what have they got? Since many Republican politicians obviously do not want to do anything concrete that might help conservatives, claiming that they’re incapable of doing so is about all they can say.

Fenris on June 25, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Krauthammer is right. Give Lerner amnesty and force her to rat out all her co-conspirators.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Lerner has her golden parachute and a promise of a Presidential pardon on 1/19/2017 if needed.

All she will say if offered immunity is that the entire plan and effort to illegally target conservative organizations was her own plan and action…that she did it entirely on her own without any outside instructions.

And with that, the entire story and investigation would end. Other guilty parties would get off being held accountable and responsible for their actions.

Athos on June 25, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Krauthammer is right. Give Lerner amnesty and force her to rat out all her co-conspirators.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Lerner is a life-long partisan hack who used her gov’t job to target those who disagreed with her politics from the first day she was hired. She won’t turn on anyone. Strip her of her gov’t bennies and prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law and let it serve as a warning to others.

HumpBot Salvation on June 25, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Poll: 76% of Americans Believe That The IRS ‘DELIBERATELY DESTROYED’ Lois Lerner’s Emails

That includes – hold onto your hat – 63% of Democrats!

Resist We Much on June 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

And that’s the LA Times. Everyone fears the power of the IRS.

Oil Can on June 25, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Without the power to prosecute independent of the DoJ, an outside investigator would only be useful to derail the House probes into the IRS scandal.

Sorry, I don’t buy it. If that was the case, the White House would have already cherry picked the prosecutor and the story would die.

This excuse falls prey to being too smart by half.

chuckfinlay on June 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Who says they haven’t got one lined up? Up to now their normal way of down playing scandals has worked well for them but now there is polling out that the majority of Americans across the board believes this needs to be looked into.

wifarmboy on June 25, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Holder will do squat

cmsinaz on June 25, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Impeach Holder and lock him up. But any of King Putt’s minions will act the same way, so we have uncovered a real flaw with our system. The people have little legal remedy against a rogue government.

It may be time for the pitchforks and tar.

dogsoldier on June 25, 2014 at 12:51 PM

This is a call for a pseudo independent cover up of Impeachable offenses by the Obama Administration.

oscarwilde on June 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM

From the same newspaper that hid a tape from the public that would have cost him the 2008 election.

ezspirit on June 25, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Supposedly, Justice and FBI already have investigations going, and now the IRS IG is launching a formal investigation.

Expect that if the media starts to pay too much attention, the White House will announce that FBI and Justice have enhanced their investigations and the White House, Treasury, and IRS will be cooperating fully with those investigations which are going to take a very long time (there will probably be no results until January 2017).

The Media will go – OK – nothing to talk about anymore!

pilsener on June 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM

That includes – hold onto your hat – 63% of Democrats!

Resist We Much on June 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

But they’re proud of themselves. Democrats believe the end always justifies the means.

ezspirit on June 25, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Krauthammer is right. Give Lerner amnesty and force her to rat out all her co-conspirators.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

BOR interviewed Issa last night and this came up. Issa said that Trent Gowdy told him you never give immunity without a proffer from the perp first. So, she’ll just wait it out.

butch on June 25, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Krauthammer is right. Give Lerner amnesty and force her to rat out all her co-conspirators.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Snitches get stitches.

ezspirit on June 25, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Who says they haven’t got one lined up? Up to now their normal way of down playing scandals has worked well for them but now there is polling out that the majority of Americans across the board believes this needs to be looked into.

wifarmboy on June 25, 2014 at 12:44 PM

It’s different, because they essentially came out for the last year and called it a phony scandal to anyone who would listen. If a special prosecutor is appointed, they are admitting they jumped the gun on declaring everyone innocent. In addition, they would further raise suspicions as to why they were so quick to end the discussion.

So, no, a special prosecutor is not the get out of jail free card for the White House that it is being made out to be. They would have to eat serious crow to do it.

chuckfinlay on June 25, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Yep, trot out an independent investigator… someone else for John Koskinen to sneer at.

“Here, son, let me blow my nose on your tie… now go investigate that.”

Marcola on June 25, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Expect that if the media starts to pay too much attention, the White House will announce that FBI and Justice have enhanced their investigations and the White House, Treasury, and IRS will be cooperating fully with those investigations which are going to take a very long time (there will probably be no results until January 2017).

The Media will go – OK – nothing to talk about anymore!

pilsener on June 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM

No results until mid November 2016. Holder declares nothing in report that needs prosecution.

wifarmboy on June 25, 2014 at 1:04 PM

So, no, a special prosecutor is not the get out of jail free card for the White House that it is being made out to be. They would have to eat serious crow to do it.

chuckfinlay on June 25, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Yes this is less desirable for the white house but their normal method of dealing with it isn’t working. Anyway la times called for a investigator not a prosecutor.

wifarmboy on June 25, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Liar Lerner and Dirtbag Koskinen likely aren’t worried about investigations if there are no penalties.

viking01 on June 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

WSB in Atlanta is playing a parody tune called “Welcome Back Koskinen”.

slickwillie2001 on June 25, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Holder will never appoint a special prosecutor. Ever.

Just get used to it.

Meople on June 25, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Krauthammer is right. Give Lerner amnesty and force her to rat out all her co-conspirators.

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

I say bring in all seven, sit them down in front of the committee at he same time, hand them a sheet of paper each with the immunity, and tell them the first to sign and sing, gets off scot free from Congress (nothing was said about criminal or civil court…just Congress).

TIdbIT on June 25, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Why not waterboarding?

viking01 on June 25, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Hey great photo of Denzel and Stedman, where was Oprah? L.A. Times wow, who would have ever believed it?

DDay on June 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Quite late to the party L.A. Times.

You still have NO credibility.

ObserverMI on June 25, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Why not waterboarding?

viking01 on June 25, 2014 at 1:39 PM

At this precise minute, I am wearing a t-shirt that says, ‘Club Gitmo: A Waterboarder’s Paradise!

Resist We Much on June 25, 2014 at 2:34 PM

A prosecutor also may be required by ethics rules to keep some findings secret

BS. This the IRS, not national security. The American public has a legal right to see any document, email, conversation, or any work product created by the IRS at any time a crime was likely committed.

The crime is not in question… the IG already annouced a crime was committed. The question is who ordered it.

HopeHeFails on June 25, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Expect that if the media starts to pay too much attention,

pilsener on June 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM

They won’t.

Did a check at Polling Report earlier, and the Democrat Media has not even done a poll on the IRS scandal in over a year.

In fact the only one that has been done since June of 2013 was the Faux News one mentioned in another thread here.

Dr. Goebbels would be proud of them all.

Del Dolemonte on June 25, 2014 at 2:50 PM

The first thing I would do is censure Elijah Cummings. His office colluded with the IRS and there are emails to support this claim. I would then bring criminal charges against him.
I would throw Lois Lerner in jail, just like Gary Anderson, Barry Bonds trainer who refused to testify in the steroid hearings. She can contemplate her next move in prison.
I would then bring up Nixon and the 18 1/2 minutes of lost tapes and remind the people that he was guilty and Obama should face the same consequences. I know this will bring the media out in full defense mode, but the American people believe this was deliberate.
Finally, I would gut the IRS and set up a flat tax. There would still be individuals needed for receiving the tax returns and setting up 501s, but everything else would be dismantled.
The GOP need to realize that they have the American people on their side. The media can spin it all they want, but the bottom line is that Republicans will be rewarded during the election cycle. And the GOP can use the phrase “cleaning the swamp”, just like Pelosi did in 2006.

djaymick on June 25, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Why Andrew Malcolm left the rag – it’s taken this long for them to say something.

Did a check at Polling Report earlier, and the Democrat Media has not even done a poll on the IRS scandal in over a year.

In fact the only one that has been done since June of 2013 was the Faux News one mentioned in another thread here.

Dr. Goebbels would be proud of them all.

Del Dolemonte on June 25, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Actually, Dr Goebbels had listeners out all the time, trying to gauge public opinion.

He may have been evil, but he wasn’t dumb.

formwiz on June 25, 2014 at 3:13 PM

The GOP need to realize that they have the American people on their side. The media can spin it all they want, but the bottom line is that Republicans will be rewarded during the election cycle. And the GOP can use the phrase “cleaning the swamp”, just like Pelosi did in 2006.

djaymick on June 25, 2014 at 2:54 PM

The main problem with this is that the GOPe, the establishment GOP that represents so much of the GOP Congressional Leadership isn’t all that interested in ‘cleaning the swamp’. They are powerful and profiting because of that swamp. They are where they are because of how they learned to leverage that swamp. And fundamentally, they believe that the primary problem with the agenda of the Democrats is that they want to enact it too quickly – the GOPe has clearly demonstrated that their solution is to travel down the same road, only at about half the speed.

The GOP’s core problem is that it refuses to lead, to communicate, to articulate a cogent and valid agenda / argument / vision for all Americans. They fear the biased and corrupt mainstream media and propaganda efforts which paint them as racist far-right radicals. It’s far easier for them to go along to get along than it is to stand up to the principles they once said they held.

At this point, they remain part of the problem and not part of the solution….and our, the people’s ability to be part of the solution, is being constantly attacked and marginalized.

Athos on June 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM

D-rats

Schadenfreude on June 25, 2014 at 3:50 PM

D-rats

Schadenfreude on June 25, 2014 at 3:50 PM

You ought to be ashamed of yourself but clearly we’re way beyond that.

UnstChem on June 25, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Happy Nomad on June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM
-
If you mean immunity we’ve been down that road early on.
http://hotair.com/archives/2013/07/03/lerners-attorney-demands-immunity-for-testimony/
-
I think the truth can be obtained without her cooperation. There are just too many technical leads to follow and others to question. In my opinion, she’s made her bed.

diogenes on June 25, 2014 at 8:12 PM

LA Times: We need an independent investigator for the IRS

And Obama and Eric Holder will assign the current IRS commissioner, their reanimated cadaver, as the independent investigator and the Democrat owned media will explain how fair that is.

RJL on June 25, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Since I just recently blasted the L.A. Times for not reporting on this lost email story at all, I need to commend them for running this op-ed, whether or not they got it right.

ajb3 on June 26, 2014 at 10:25 AM