Oversight Is Difficult When Needed Information Is Being Withheld

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the ongoing efforts of Devin Nunes, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the U.S. House of Representatives, to obtain information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The article notes that Kimberley Strassel has entitled her weekly column at The Wall Street Journal “What is the FBI hiding?” It is beginning to look as if they are definitely hiding something.

The article at Power Line notes:

Strassel notes that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has just sent another letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand yet again that they comply with an August 2017 subpoena and hand over, among other things, the electronic communication—“EC” in investigative jargon—that officially kicked off the counterintelligence investigation. In his letter, Rep. Nunes states that the FBI has provided only a “heavily redacted” version of the EC. Beyond that, the FBI would prefer not to give it up.

Rep. Nunes is not amused. He writes: “On March 23, 2018, the FBI’s Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs informed the Committee that the FBI would refuse to further unredact the EC based on its supposed sensitivity. The document in question is not highly classified, and law enforcement sources have apparently not been shy about leaking to the press information that the Department and Bureau refuse to share with Congress.”

The article at Power Line includes a copy of the letter sent by Representative Nunes. It is unfair to ask Congress to exercise Congressional oversight without giving them the requested information. Hopefully the FBI will cooperate in the near future.

Sara Carter has also been following this story. More details are available on her website.

Is The Department Of Justice Just?

The following statement was posted at Judicial Watch yesterday:

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement regarding the  Department of Justice’s decision not to bring charges against Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, whose own emails place her at the heart of the politicization of the IRS for the targeting of conservative groups:

I have zero confidence that the Justice Department did an adequate review of the IRS scandal. In fact, we’re still fighting the Justice Department and the IRS for records about this very scandal. Today’s decision comes as no surprise considering that the FBI collaborated with the IRS and is unlikely to investigate or prosecute itself. President Trump should order a complete review of the whole issue. Meanwhile, we await accountability for IRS Commissioner Koskinen, who still serves and should be drummed out of office.

Judicial Watch released 294 pages of FBI “302” documents revealing top Washington IRS officials, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew the agency was specifically targeting “Tea Party” and other conservative organizations two full years before disclosing it to Congress and the public.  An FBI 302 document contains detailed narratives of FBI agent investigations.  The Obama Justice Department and FBI investigations into the Obama IRS scandal resulted in no criminal charges.

The FBI 302 documents confirm the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) 2013 report that said, “Senior IRS officials knew that agents were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011.” Lerner did not reveal the targeting until May 2013, in response to a planted question at an American Bar Association conference.  The new documents reveal that then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller actually wrote Lerner’s response: “They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate.”

Judicial Watch’s litigation forced the IRS first to say that emails belonging to Lerner were supposedly missing and later declare to the court that the emails were on IRS back-up systems.  Lerner was one of the top officials responsible for the IRS’ targeting of President Obama’s political opponents.  Judicial Watch exposed various IRS record keeping problems:

  • In June 2014the IRS claimed to have “lost” responsive emails belonging to Lerner and other IRS officials.
  • In August 2014, Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS finally admitted Judicial Watch that Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The IRS’ attorneys also disclosed that Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) was looking at several of these backup tapes.
  • In November 2014, the IRS told the court it had failed to search any of the IRS standard computer systems for the “missing” emails of Lerner and other IRS officials.
  • On February 26, 2015, TIGTA officials testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it had received 744 backup tapes containing emails sent and received by Lerner.  This testimony showed that the IRS had falsely represented to both Congress, Judge Sullivan, and Judicial Watch that Lerner’s emails were irretrievably lost. The testimony also revealed that IRS officials responsible for responding to the document requests never asked for the backup tapes and that 424 backup tapes containing Lerner’s emails had been destroyed during the pendency of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit and Congressional investigations.
  • In June 2015, Judicial Watch forced the IRS to admit in a court filing that it was in possession of 6,400 “newly discovered” Lerner emails. Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the IRS to provide answers on the status of the Lerner emails the IRS had previously declared lost. Judicial Watch raised questions about the IRS’ handling of the missing emails issue in a court filing, demanding answers about Lerner’s emails that had been recovered from the backup tapes.
  • In July 2015, U.S District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan threatened to hold John Koskinen, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, and Justice Department attorneys in contempt of court after the IRS failed to produce status reports and recovered Lerner emails, as he had ordered on July 1, 2015.

Obama IRS Commissioner Koskinen was nearly impeached in September 2016 for misleading Congress on Lerner’s emails.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clearly violated the free speech rights of American citizens because the Obama Administration wanted to silence their views. This is a serious affront to our representative republic and should not go unpunished. Attempting to use the IRS for political purposes was one of the items of impeachment drawn up against President Richard Nixon. Has the Justice Department forgotten what the law is? If so, it is time for a new Justice Department.