Lois Lerner: Free as a bird... for now

There’s a name we haven’t seen in the news for a while. What has former IRS honcho Lois Lerner been up to since her somewhat abrupt “retirement” in the wake of the IRS scandal? Well, having failed to secure a pardon from Barack Obama before he moved out of the Oval Office, there have been investigations going on into her department’s handling of conservative non-profit groups.

This may have had Ms. Lerner a bit on the nervous side for a while but now it appears that she can rest easy. The Attorney General announced this week that the trail had apparently gone cold and there weren’t going to be any charges forthcoming. (Washington Free Beacon)

Two prominent House Republicans criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for declining to reopen a criminal investigation into charges that former IRS Director Lois Lerner violated several federal laws by targeting conservative groups and lying to Congress during its three-year probe.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady (R., Texas) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), who chairs the panel’s tax policy subcommittee, angrily reacted to a Thursday letter from Sessions’ informing them of the Department of Justice’s decision not to reopen a criminal investigation against Lerner.

“This is a terrible decision,” Brady said in a statement. “It sends the message that the same legal, ethical and Constitutional standards we all live by do not apply to Washington political appointees—who will now have the green light to target Americans for their political belief and mislead investigators without ever being held accountable for their lawlessness.”

These are two of the same members who had originally asked Sessions to reopen the investigation shortly he took over at Justice. Judging by the report, that action was taken and a fresh set of eyes was set to the task. From the sound of things they ran up against the same wall which often crops up in cabinet level scandals. They clearly found that things had gone wrong at the IRS, what with the different treatment reserved for Tea Party affiliated groups and with the mishandling of taxpayer data. But they came up short on deciding where those actions fell in terms of the line between incompetence and intentional malfeasance.

Maybe it’s just me, but at least one of the allegations seems like it wouldn’t be that tough to prove. I’ll grant you that definitively proving bias while sorting through applications for tax-exempt status might be tough, and even the question of “making misleading statements” to investigators (as opposed to outright perjury) could be a close call. But if private taxpayer information was showing up in her personal email account then that should be a fairly clear cut case. Then again, looking at what happened to Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin (i.e. nothing) after tons of government communications wound up mixed in with the Carlos Danger Young Adult Entertainment Library, what do I know?

Still, there’s at least an outside chance that this isn’t over. Sessions tossed in a note about keeping various options on the table.

“As in every case, if new information emerges that is relevant to this matter, the department will consider it in an appropriate and timely manner,” he wrote.

Frankly, I wouldn’t read too much into that. It’s more of a boilerplate statement than anything else. Something tells me that if Sessions had the goods on Lerner in any way, shape or form we’d already know it because she’d be under arrest. So at least for the time being, Ms. Lerner gets to keep on enjoying her taxpayer funded retirement benefits, even if we’ll never know precisely what benefits she’s receiving. Well done!

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David Strom 12:01 PM on October 07, 2022