House Oversight Committee

Disgraced ex-IRS official will not get immunity in exchange for testimony

When disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, she will not receive immunity for any testimony she gives, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):

“Her attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve had a back and forth negotiation,” Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “But quite frankly, we believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her in her best interest to be summoned to testify.”

The evidence that Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has obtained are emails showing that Lerner drafted the proposed IRS regulations that would restrict political speech of nonprofit groups that engage in public policy discussions. The regulations are currently being considered by the IRS.

Wallace asked whether the House Oversight Committee offered Lerner immunity in exchange for her testimony. “We did not,” Issa replied, adding later that he believes the disgraced IRS official will answer all the committee’s questions about the powerful tax agencies targeting of conservative groups.

Oversight Committee seeks Lerner documents from Justice Department

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee fired off a letter on Thursday to the Justice Department seeking all documents and communications related to its interview with Lois Lerner, the disgraced IRS official at the center of congressional inquiries into the agencies targeting of conservative groups.

“The Wall Street Journal recently reported that DOJ attorney interviewed former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner about the IRS targeting ‘within the last six months,’” wrote Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “According to the article, Ms. Lerner gave a ‘lengthy interview’ to unspecified DOJ lawyers without a grant of immunity from the Department.”

Though she spoke freely with the Justice Department, Issa and Jordan noted that Lerner has refused to cooperate the committee’s investigation, twice invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, in May 2013 and again earlier this month.

Issa and Jordan have requested all documents and communications relating to the scope, timing, scheduling of the Justice Department’s interview with Lerner. The committee is also requesting correspondence between federal law enforcement agencies and the disgraced IRS official or her counsel relating to immunity.

House Committee Releases Report on Lois Lerner’s Involvement in IRS Scandal

According to a report released yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, former director of the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Lois Lerner may have downplayed her involvement in the agency’s targeting of tax-exempt organizations during her testimonials.

Amongst the many discoveries reported by the committee, documents confirm that during her time as an official, Lerner broke IRS rules by handling 6103 taxpayer information, which is protected data, while making use of a non-official email account.

The dangerous practice exposes taxpayers’ sensitive information, putting the identities of several citizens at risk. Lerner’s actions deserve scrutiny precisely because she stood before Congress to say that she had never violated IRS rules or regulations.

She lied, and skeptics around the country are now only waiting for the next time she manages to lie again while under oath.

The report also shows that Lerner also lied in a previous occasion. During a February 24th, 2012 briefing, the former IRS official claimed that the criteria used by IRS staff to evaluate tax-exempt applications hadn’t changed at all, when it fact, they did change in late June 2011, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Emails between Lerner and one of her senior advisors show that when she received an article noting that unknown conservative donors were stirring U.S. Senate races, she replied by saying that “perhaps the FEC will save the day.”

Lerner pleads the Fifth at IRS scandal hearing, ranking Democrat loses his mind

Lois Lerner, the disgraced former IRS official, again invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing into the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

“My counsel has advised me that I have not waived my constitutional rights under the Firth Amendment,” Lerner told Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in response to a question about her comments on Citizens United, “and on his advice, I will decline to answer any question on the subject matter of this hearing.”

“So you’re not going to tell us who wanted to fix the problem caused by Citizens United?” Issa asked, to which Lerner replied, “On the advice of my counsel, I respectively exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer the question.”

House Oversight Committee to bring Lois Lerner back to testify on IRS scandal

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has put Lois Lerner, a disgraced former IRS official, on notice that she’ll be called back to testify about the powerful tax agency’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups.

“Ms Lerner’s testimony remains critical to the Committee’s investigation,” wrote Issa in a letter to William Taylor, Lerner’s attorney. “Documents and testimony obtained by the Committee show that she played a significant role in scrutinizing applications for tax exempt status from conservative organizations.”

Issa also noted that the committee has obtained information that Lerner ”participated in ‘off plan’ work to develop rules that would allow the IRS to stifle constitutionally protected political speech by non-profit groups.” These proposed rules — which would codify the targeting of conservative groups — are currently being considered by the IRS

Obama donor heading up IRS scandal investigation

The Justice Department’s appointee to lead the IRS scandal investigation donated several thousands of dollars to President Barack Obama campaigns, raising concerns from two House Republicans that she may have a conflict-of-interest.

Barbara Bosserman, the Justice Department attorney leading the investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, donated a total of $6,100 to Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, according to FEC records. She also donated $400 to the Democratic National Committee in October 2004 and $250 in November 2008.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, in which they demanded that Bosserman be removed.

“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest,” wrote Issa and Jordan in a letter to Holder. “It is unbelievable that the Department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the President’s policies.”

The Republican lawmakers requested that Holder “immediately remove Ms. Bosserman from the ongoing investigation,” adding that the Justice Department “should take all necessary steps to ensure that the DOJ/FBI criminal investigation is thorough and unbiased.”

Official at the center of IRS scandal to retire

Lois Lerner

Lois Lerner, the official at the center of congressional inquiries into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, has retired, according to a statement released by the agency:

Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official investigated by Congress over the agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups, has retired effective today, the agency said in a statement.

Lerner, the tax agency’s former director of exempt organizations, was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this year. Last week, acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told a congressional panel that Lerner was “technically still employed.”

The agency declined further comment, citing privacy concerns.

Refusing to resign over her alleged role in the scandal, Lerner was instead placed on paid administrative leave in May, just after she invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself in a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Republicans on the committee believe that Lerner waived her rights by declaring her innocence before invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Chris Matthews continues to dismiss the IRS scandal

Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, said on Thursday night that the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups is a “phony,” using the issue rail against non-profit groups that engage in politics and the Citizens United ruling, which overturned campaign finance laws that suppressed political speech.

Matthews made the comments during a segment with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who alleges that leftist groups have been targeted in the same manner as conservative organizations and has filed a lawsuit against the IRS seeking to clarify tax-exempt laws, and Nia-Malika Henderson.

“[T]o this point [House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s] witchhunt has found no witches, not in the White House, of course. In fact, the entire narrative — this so-called ‘scandal,’ this repeated scandal — has gotten pretty hard to follow,” said Matthews in the lead into the segment.

“In fact, is it a scandal? Well, yesterday House Democrats released new evidence that the IRS was also targeting liberal groups in addition to flagging groups with names like ‘progressive.’ They also flagged applicants with terms like ‘emerge’ and, of course, ACORN, a group on the left which would associate with liberal causes,” he added before introducing Van Hollen. “Issa’s camp have dismissed those reports, of course, which could be evidence that he’s using the issue to score political points instead of actually trying to solve whatever problems there are at the IRS.”

Two more deaths tied to Operation Fast and Furious

Operation Fast and Furious

While congressional investigations into Operation Fast and Furious have stalled because of the White House and Justice Department’s refusal to cooperate, the failed gun-walking scheme is back in the news again. The Los Angeles Times reports that a semi-automatic rifle used in the murder of a Mexican police chief and a body guard has been traced back to Operation Fast and Furious:

Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, the police chief in the city of Hostotipaquillo, was shot to death Jan. 29 when gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire. Also killed was one of his bodyguards. His wife and a second bodyguard were wounded.

Local authorities said eight suspects in their 20s and 30s were arrested after police seized them nearby with a cache of weapons — rifles, grenades, handguns, helmets, bulletproof vests, uniforms and special communications equipment. The area is a hot zone for rival drug gangs, with members of three cartels fighting over turf in the region.

A semi-automatic WASR rifle, the firearm that killed the chief, was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, Ariz. The notation on the Department of Justice trace records said the WASR was used in a “HOMICIDE – WILLFUL – KILL –PUB OFF –GUN” –ATF code for “Homicide, Willful Killing of a Public Official, Gun.”

Disgraced IRS official wants immunity in exchange for testimony on Tea Party targeting

Lois Lerner, the IRS employee at the center of the controversy over the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, wants immunity before she will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner will not testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unless she’s given immunity from prosecution, her lawyer told POLITICO Tuesday.

“They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way … immunity,” William W. Taylor III said in a phone interview. “That’s the way to resolve all of this.”
Taylor, a founding partner of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, is even shrugging off the possibility that the full House might vote to hold Lerner in contempt.

“None of this matters,” he said. “I mean, nobody likes to be held in contempt of Congress, of course, but the real question is one that we’re fairly confident about, and I don’t think any district judge in the country would hold that she waived.”

Lerner refused to testify during a May 22nd hearing before the committee, invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself, but not before declaring her innocence in her opening statement. That move has led to questions over whether Lerner, who was placed on administrative leave after her appearance before the committee, waived her rights.

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