The Obama Scandals Are Very Far From Fizzling Out
Posted 06:29 PM ET
Accountability: Fans of the president may want to believe the IRS and other scandals are beginning to lose momentum. The media may indeed let up, but the facts crying out for investigation mount.
Extolling the fire-extinguishing skills of White House staff, MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday said IRS administrator Lois Lerner's orchestrated revelation two weeks earlier of slanted, abusive scrutinizing of conservative groups now "seems like a million years ago."
The president's men may be getting smoother at keeping their stories straight, but sending Lerner on administrative leave and making her out as a bumbling bureaucrat run amok may not sell well — especially with her continuing to receive close to $180,000 in full-time pay on the taxpayer's dime without doing any work.
And the question remains: Why should an inept government manager who declares she has "not done anything wrong ... not broken any laws" or "violated IRS regulations" have to take the Fifth Amendment?
If House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., grants Lerner immunity so her testimony can't be used against her in a criminal prosecution, she will be free to provide information about those above her involved in the scandal — or, perhaps, reveal herself and a few other tax collectors as sole culprits.
The better bet is the former. Jay Sekulow, the lawyer for 27 conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, gave NBC News letters disproving the IRS' claims that the misbehavior begins and ends with rogue employees in the Cincinnati office.
Moreover, as National Review's Eliana Johnson has reported, the IRS a week ago issued a "top priority" e-mail ordering its employees not to "wipe, re-image or otherwise destroy any hard drives"on any computer.
Johnson described it as a "process of locking down all computer data across the agency, a sign that investigations into the scandal-plagued agency may be taking a broader sweep than initially anticipated."
Those data troves could be a bonanza for Issa's panel, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and, perhaps, a special prosecutor.
So the IRS scandal will get bigger, not smaller. Meanwhile, if Republicans handle it deftly, they may be able to convince the public that Attorney General Eric Holder committed perjury in his congressional testimony earlier this month in the Justice Department scandal.
The White House insists Holder testified truthfully, but after he claimed no involvement in investigating journalists, it emerged that he approved the seeking of a search warrant for Fox News email records, and gave the green light for a subpoena of telephone records too.
In the Benghazi scandal, Issa is subpoenaing senior aides to ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to track down the politicized revision of talking points during last year's presidential election.
There is a mountain of evidence awaiting investigation in multiple scandals. This is the beginning of a rough ride for President Obama.