Author Topic: 'We have a problem with you, and you have a problem maintaining your credibility'  (Read 518 times)

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Offline Chieftain

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House Republicans slam IRS commissioner as they subpoena a White House lawyer in 'missing emails' case

    IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified Monday in a rare evening hearing, just days after being called a liar in another House proceeding
    He defended the IRS against insinuations that it covered up a political targeting scheme by burying inconvenient emails
    Republicans say Koskinen lied in March when he promised to deliver copies of 'all' of former official Lois Lerner's communications even though he knew of a 2011 computer crash that destroyed 28 months' worth
    He testified that the Treasury Department's inspector general is investigating 'Ms. Lerner's computer crash three years ago'
    Lerner has been held in Contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about her part in a scheme to use the IRS to hamstring tea party groups
    House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa subpoenaed White House attorney Jennifer O'Connor on Monday to testify Tuesday morning
    O'Connor, former counsel to the then-acting IRS commissioner, was invited to testify but the White House Counsel's office refused to let her testify

By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

Published: 17:36 EST, 23 June 2014

Republicans dropped a hammer on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen during a testy hearing covering the disappearance of emails tied to the agency's tea party targeting scandal.

The emails, covering the period January 2009 to April 2011, belonged to embattled former official Lois Lerner and could shed light on whether an expansive scheme to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny was guided by members of Congress or administration officials outside the IRS.

'The committee requested all of Lois Lerner’s emails over a year ago,' said House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa. 'And we subpoenaed the emails in August 2013 and again in February 2014. ... You worked to cover up the fact they were missing and only came forward to fess up on a Friday afternoon after you had been caught red-handed.'

'You personally did not cause the targeting,' he told Koskinen, referring to the tea party scandal. 'You personally did not destroy the emails. But by your actions and your deception, you now own this scandal.'

'We have a problem with you,' Issa sniped, 'and you have a problem maintaining your credibility.'

Monday's unusual evening hearing came as the result of a subpoena, and will continue Tuesday morning with a command performance from another Obama administration official.

Issa subpoenaed White House lawyer Jennifer O'Connor on Monday afternoon. He had invited her on Thursday to testify during the Tuesday session, but on Monday afternoon White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston wrote Issa to say his underling would not appear.

Before O'Connor's promotion to the White House Counsel's office, she was counsel to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.

Just ten days ago the IRS informed congressional investigators that a hard drive crash had destroyed 28 months of emails to and from Lerner, who led the IRS's office in charge of vetting and policing tax-exempt nonprofit groups.

In an opening statement Monday night, Koskinen argued that 'it is not unusual for computers anywhere to fail, especially at the IRS in light of the aged equipment IRS employees often have to use in light of the continual cuts in its budget these past four years.'

'Since Jan. 1 of this year, for example,' he claimed, 'over 2,000 employees have suffered hard drive crashes.'

Koskinen referred several times on Monday to a lack of budget resources within the IRS, and raised the issue when asked why the agency didn't do a better job keeping a backup of Lerner's emails.

An outraged Issa insisted that Americans should be able to know 'they're being honestly treated by your employees, especially somebody at such a high level. Isn't that in fact a priority that should have allowed for full retention?'

'If we had the right resources, there would be a lot of priorities,' Koskinen shot back.

'So the American people should believe that if they don't have the resources to pay their taxes, they shouldn't pay their taxes' Issa jabbed, 'because if the IRS doesn't have the resources, it won't keep records?'

'That's pretty much what you're telling us here tonight, is that resources are a question of whether or not you retain key documents.'

Koskinen also said that 'the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has already begun an investigation' into the email losses.

'His report will provide an independent review of the situation concerning Ms. Lerner's computer crash three years ago.'

That's the same inspector general unit that launched Lerner into the spotlight 13 months ago, with an audit of its 'inappropriate' use of keywords like 'patriots' and 'tea party' to identify tax-exemption applicants that would receive inordinate levels of screening.

The result was a three-year period of intrusive screening of conservative groups while their liberal counterparts skated by and quickly received approval.

Issa's committee staff prepared a video montage showing a cavalcade of Republicans during a March 26 hearing, demanding that Koskinen provide 'all' Lerner's emails.

'Yes, we will do that,' the IRS commissioner is seen conceding

Issa tried to corner him Monday night, insisting that he 'knew there was a problem with Lois Lerner's emails when you came and testified in March.'

But Koskinen insisted that he had only been told that 'there was an issue that no one knew the ramifications of.'

'Somebody said, "There's an odd development in the way the emails are showing up. We're going to pull all her emails and investigate it",' he said. 'The first time I knew that emails had been lost from her account was in April.'

'All the emails that we have will be provided,' he said moments later. 'I did not say I would provide you emails that disappeared. If you have a magical way for me to do that, I'd be happy to know about it.'

'My time has expired,' Issa interjected while Koskinen continued to speak. 'And I've lost my patience with you.'

In the March 26 hearing, Koskinen insisted that retrieving Lerner's emails and submitting them to legal review – to make sure they don't contain taxpayers' private information – would take 'years.'

'They’re stored somewhere,' he explained to Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz during that hearing. 'They get taken off and stored in servers and you’ve got 90-thousand employees. ... We can find, and we are in fact searching – we can find Lois Lerner’s emails.'

Koskinen didn't mention the 2011 computer crash at the time.

His suggestion that the emails were stored on a remote server – not only on Lerner's personal computer – has brought howls from Republicans, especially since he testified on Friday in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing that the emails were gone for good, and that the IRS had 'recycled' the hard drive.

Audible gasps echoed throughout the hearing room as he voiced that admission.

Agency guidelines require that 'IRS offices will not store the official recordkeeping copy of e-mail messages that are federal records ONLY on the electronic mail system.'

The rules also require IRS offices to back up email messages to 'a separate electronic recordkeeping system.'

Koskinen has worn Republicans' arrows as a badge of honor, insisting that he owes no apologies for being the bearer of bad news about a computer crash.

But during Friday's Ways and Means hearing, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan insisted, 'Nobody believes you.'

Lerner is already charged with Contempt of Congress for refusing to answer a subpoena from Issa by testifying about a years-long scheme to use the IRS to hamstring conservative groups.

Issa said Monday on the Fox News Channel that Lerner presided over the targeting of tea party groups beginning in 2009 because President Barack Obama had made his opposition to the 'Citizens United' Supreme Court case well-known.

It was that federal case that cleared the way for a great amount of money in federal elections – some of which, congressional Democrats have charged, filters down to nonprofit groups that are forbidden to do any electioneering.

'I believe Lois Lerner is hiding something,' Issa said.

'I believe the Justice Department, the IRS, and the White House are interested in her succeeding in hiding what she’s hiding, which is targeting of conservative groups based on their ideology in support of the president’s war on Citizens United, a Supreme Court decision that he didn’t like.'

'This is something he vehemently opposes,' Issa said, 'and Lois Lerner acted on his opposition.'

He also suggested the Obama administration is aware that his committee's investigation into the IRS is geting perilously close to the White House itself.

'Could it lead to political operatives of the president?' he asked. 'Yes.'

The eleventh-hour subpoena of O'Connor has brought a flurry of late-night lawyering on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, with a House Oversight committee source telling MailOnline that she is legally required to testify on Capitol Hill at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The hearing will commence with or without her, a committee staffer explained, but Republicans believe she will be there.

The White House did not immediately respond to a question about whether O'Connor will attend.

A frustrated Issa issued a statement Monday along with the O'Connor subpoena, complaining that 'a year ago, when news broke that the IRS had targeted Americans because of their political beliefs, President Obama pledged, "we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role".'

'I’m disappointed that one year later, the White House has attempted to block this Committee’s first request for voluntary cooperation from a White House official.'

As counsel to the acting IRS commissioner, he said, she 'led the response to the Congressional targeting inquiry' from the IRS.

'She is uniquely qualified to explain why attorneys did not focus on and flag Lerner’s "lost" e-mails at the outset.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2666413/House-Republicans-subpoena-White-House-lawyer-missing-emails-case-IRS-commissioner-prepares-prime-time-grilling.html#ixzz35W5fAmJO
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Offline Oceander

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Let's hope they keep up the full-court press.

Offline Relic

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I don't know. It seems to me that once Darrell Issa shows up and gets his camera time, that's the kiss of death to any investigation.

Offline alicewonders

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I don't know. It seems to me that once Darrell Issa shows up and gets his camera time, that's the kiss of death to any investigation.
[/b]

I've noticed that as well.  He talks a good game.
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Offline Chieftain

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I've noticed that as well.  He talks a good game.

I think perhaps it might help to step back and look at what has been going on for two years now.  These e-mails were always central to this, from the very beginning.  The IRS has tried to delay and stonewall this investigation by Issa any way they could.  Let's not forget the determined obstruction of all of this by Elija Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee. 

I do not understand what you think Issa could have done before now about any of this.  It is now clear that the White House is directly involved in this, as they knew about this hard drive fiasco long before Congress did, and do not forget that this is all subject to formal House Subpoena, that Darrel Issa had to fight tooth and nail to get passed in the first place.

A case like this is built one piece at a time.  It has taken the force of Congress, applied largely by Issa, just to get us to the point where we are right now.  What I believe comes next is a Special Prosecutor.  In light of the latest details, and the amazingly hostile testimony by the IRS Commissioner himself in front of multiple Congressional Committees, I do not see a need for Congress to progress much further without passing a demand for a Special Prosecutor to formally investigate this.

I compare what has happened to date with the IRS, and the amount of just the appearance of impropriety, with what we saw during the successful Impeachment of Bill Clinton, and back to the threatened Articles of Impeachment that were going to be brought against Nixon before he resigned.  In my view, we are light years beyond the point that Nixon and Clinton ever aspired to and into the realm of violations of the Presidential Oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States". 

One of the things Nixon was accused of, and never tried on, was using the IRS as a weapon against his political enemies.  Since then Congress has passed laws that supposedly would prevent that kind of thing ever happening again.  IRS's own rules require secure backups of data, especially e-mails.  Everyone today works off of some kind of server, and even your personal e-mails at home are not stored on your hard drive. 

Again, I think there is ample evidence of extreme misconduct on several levels that rises to the level of requiring a Special Prosecutor.  That has to be drawn up with supporting documentation and prepared to be properly passed by the House of Representatives.  The first step in the process is a report out of the Committee that is investigating the matter, and Issa is the Chair of that committee in this case.  He has a duty, a responsibility, and the good sense to carefully lay the foundation for this still expanding case.  I think he has done a superb job to date, but he can hardly be expected to present a final report when he has outstanding subpoenas for these now magically disappeared e-mails.

I counsel patience, plenty of popcorn, and stay tuned.  This is an ongoing event that is far from over, and the fireworks we have seen this week are only the opening round.  Like so many other Obama scandals, this one is rapidly falling to pieces before our eyes.

Enjoy the show.....

 :beer:

Offline alicewonders

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I like Issa, and don't get me wrong, I want him to succeed.  But it seems I always get all excited when Issa is heading up a hearing - but, more often than not I am let down and nothing much seems to come from it.  It really hit me when Lois Lerner first pled the Fifth and Issa just seemed to let her get away with it - fortunately, Trey Gowdy was there to call her on it.

http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/05/irs-official-lois-lerner-pleads-the-fifth-i-have-not-done-anything-wrong/ 

"Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) expressed his regret that she decided to plead the Fifth. He then asked if she would at least verify that previous on-the-record statement were indeed hers. She did so.

She was then asked by Chairman Issa to reconsider answering the committee's questions, which her counsel advised her not to do.

As Issa sought to dismiss Lerner, Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) protested, pointing out the obvious:

"She just testified or waived her Fifth Amendment right to privilege. You don't get to tell your side of the story and not be subjected to cross-examination. That's not the way it works. She waived her right by issuing an opening state and ought to stand here and answer our questions."

Gowdy's statement brought applause from some. However, Issa went on to dismiss Lerner.

Well, I'm glad that Representative Gowdy took a stand and pointed out exactly what I was thinking as I watched. I'm wondering though if Issa was having her affirm her previous statements, in order to deal with them in light of her claims that she had not presented any false information to his committee previously. Time will tell."
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Offline Oceander

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I think perhaps it might help to step back and look at what has been going on for two years now.  These e-mails were always central to this, from the very beginning.  The IRS has tried to delay and stonewall this investigation by Issa any way they could.  Let's not forget the determined obstruction of all of this by Elija Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee. 

I do not understand what you think Issa could have done before now about any of this.  It is now clear that the White House is directly involved in this, as they knew about this hard drive fiasco long before Congress did, and do not forget that this is all subject to formal House Subpoena, that Darrel Issa had to fight tooth and nail to get passed in the first place.

A case like this is built one piece at a time.  It has taken the force of Congress, applied largely by Issa, just to get us to the point where we are right now.  What I believe comes next is a Special Prosecutor.  In light of the latest details, and the amazingly hostile testimony by the IRS Commissioner himself in front of multiple Congressional Committees, I do not see a need for Congress to progress much further without passing a demand for a Special Prosecutor to formally investigate this.

I compare what has happened to date with the IRS, and the amount of just the appearance of impropriety, with what we saw during the successful Impeachment of Bill Clinton, and back to the threatened Articles of Impeachment that were going to be brought against Nixon before he resigned.  In my view, we are light years beyond the point that Nixon and Clinton ever aspired to and into the realm of violations of the Presidential Oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States". 

One of the things Nixon was accused of, and never tried on, was using the IRS as a weapon against his political enemies.  Since then Congress has passed laws that supposedly would prevent that kind of thing ever happening again.  IRS's own rules require secure backups of data, especially e-mails.  Everyone today works off of some kind of server, and even your personal e-mails at home are not stored on your hard drive. 

Again, I think there is ample evidence of extreme misconduct on several levels that rises to the level of requiring a Special Prosecutor.  That has to be drawn up with supporting documentation and prepared to be properly passed by the House of Representatives.  The first step in the process is a report out of the Committee that is investigating the matter, and Issa is the Chair of that committee in this case.  He has a duty, a responsibility, and the good sense to carefully lay the foundation for this still expanding case.  I think he has done a superb job to date, but he can hardly be expected to present a final report when he has outstanding subpoenas for these now magically disappeared e-mails.

I counsel patience, plenty of popcorn, and stay tuned.  This is an ongoing event that is far from over, and the fireworks we have seen this week are only the opening round.  Like so many other Obama scandals, this one is rapidly falling to pieces before our eyes.

Enjoy the show.....

 :beer:

Issa and the Republicans in Congress may also be trying to slow-walk a bit so they can get through this Fall's elections when, hopefully, they'll have more members in Congress and thus better odds of getting things like a special prosecutor done.  Getting a special prosecutor appointed is, I would think, a one-shot deal; if the republicans were to try and get one appointed now and fail due to democrat opposition, they most likely wouldn't get a second chance.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 11:41:09 AM by Oceander »


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