April 17, 2014

Lerner Sought DOJ Prosecution of Conservative Groups

Newly revealed emails show not only targeting but collusion for prosecution.

Some say the devil’s in the details. Turns out, he’s in the emails, too. Recently released IRS emails – made public, incidentally, only after Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request – show that former IRS official Lois “Plead the Fifth” Lerner was in direct contact with Eric Holder’s Department of Justice regarding prosecuting conservative tax-exempt groups for “lying about political activity.”

Addressing a May 8, 2013 e-mail to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller’s Chief of Staff, Nikole Flax, Lerner wrote, “I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ … He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse [sic] idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who ‘lied’ on their 1024s – saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want [sic] to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS.”

The enthusiastic response from Flax reads, “I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?”

Particularly ironic is the date of Lerner’s email – just two days before she gave a speech in which she blew the lid off the scandal while blaming the targeting on “low-level” employees in a Cincinnati IRS office and apologizing for slapping a bull’s eye on groups whose names included words like “Tea Party” or “Patriot.” The date is also just two days before Lerner first admitted that she couldn’t name any groups on the other side of the political aisle that had been targeted. For a person who repeatedly pleads the Fifth, on May 10, 2013, at least, Lerner certainly had a lot to say.

By the way, she’s now enjoying fully-funded retirement at her $2.4 million home.

But the troubles don’t end here. The Department of Justice with which Lerner colluded is the same Department that recently claimed it has no “conflict of interest” in investigating the IRS for such targeting. Last month, Attorney General Eric “I can’t believe you’re treating me this way” Holder’s department wrote in a letter to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that Justice sees no need to appoint a Special Counsel as the “investigation has been and will continue to be conducted by career prosecutors and law enforcement officials in accordance with all Department policies and procedures that are designed to ensure the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation.” That’s what the letter says – any emails to the contrary have not yet been made public.

The letter would be much more convincing, however, had Holder’s Justice Department not barred its top investigator in the IRS case (who, incidentally, was an Obama campaign contributor) from testifying before a House hearing into the illegal targeting, claiming that her appearance before the House committee could impinge the investigation.

If all of this makes your head spin, you’re not alone. Good thing Obama made it all clear for the American people when he assured us that there is “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS. Indeed, not one smidgen.

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