Late breaking today, Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the IRS to file a declaration regarding Lois Lerner’s missing emails, to include how they were lost, how they might be recovered, what other sources for the data may exist and what effort to date IRS has made to accomplish their recovery and more. This declaration is to be “signed by the appropriate IRS officials” and sworn under penalty of perjury. Judge Sullivan further took the unusual step of appointing a magistrate (sort of a junior judge) to continue orchestrating the discovery process in the FOIA lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.
Earlier today, on Fox and Friends with host Brian Kilmeade, Congressman Darrell Issa called Ms. Lerner’s recently revealed emails urging “caution” in wording of emails to her coworkers and expressing relief the IRS’s instant messaging system did not archive conversations a “smoking gun” indicative of the fact (as he sees it) it was the intent of Ms. Lerner and others at IRS to avoid Congressional oversight scrutiny in the matter of targeting conservative organizations, and perhaps others.
Folks, there’s trouble at the IRS. Big trouble. Unless you are the kind of person who thinks it’s IRS’s job to ride herd on political speech, the targeting of conservatives should have set your BS detector twitching. And they’re still at it, as witness the “new guidelines” for 501 (c)(4) entities they’re trying to publish. (Yes, this rule is temporarily held in abeyance, given the huge outpouring of fury IRS got in the public comment period, but don’t fool yourself into believing they’ve given up trying to do it.) Even if your really think policing campaign contributions is a good idea (shame on you), you ought to be pretty up in arms at the idea there are government employees out there, outside of intelligence matters, who are intentionally attempting to avoid the People’s scrutiny through their elected representatives.
This mess may go all the way to the White House, or maybe not. I don’t know, and I don’t think anybody does outside the WH, the IRS and the DOJ. It seems unquestionable there are a number of Democrats in Congress who have exerted undue influence on a supposedly neutral cabinet agency, whether intentionally or no, because they didn’t like the Supremes deciding the First amendment means exactly what it says.
So, as far as pointing to the President, or his aides, or Democrat Members of Congress, then Issa is wrong; this is no “smoking gun.” But there’s a good bit of gun-smoke involved in the avoiding scrutiny thing. It doesn’t matter if the hard drive was destroyed intentionally or not, except to the people who will go to prison for doing it if they did. What matters is there are government workers who are knowingly and intentionally trying to hide what they’re doing from the People. Now, that’s scary. Those people– especially tax collectors, the power to tax is the power to destroy– are too powerful as it is. Viewed in the proper light, it’s actually a good deal worse if IRS, or some employees of IRS, just up and decided to do all this on their own, without orders from the administration or the Congress. In the latter case, ho-hum, more felonious politicians; let’s smoke them out and send them to jail. But if the former… then we have a rogue agency on our hands, an altogether far more serious proposition.
Therefore, no matter where all this may lead, we have to follow every trace. We have to know what happened, no matter whose ox it gores. And we have to fix it.