Impeach Obama or Holder?
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has called for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder if he continues to refuse to appoint a special prosecutor to probe the Internal Revenue Service scandal.
The IRS scandal took a bizarre turn when the agency belatedly revealed it had conveniently lost two years worth of emails from Lois Lerner and several other officials and that Lerner's hard drive had subsequently been recycled. The now-retired Lerner is the key IRS figure in the unconstitutional scrutiny of Tea Party and other groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. Some observers have alleged that this form of harassment constituted voter suppression in the runup to the 2012 presidential election.
Many IT professionals across the country for various reasons have scoffed at the idea that the Lerner emails are actually gone.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's testimony about the emails and other issues related to the scandal on Capitol Hill last week left many Republican lawmakers unsatisfied to say the least, but Koskinen is new to the job and is likely just regurgitating what bureaucrats and lawyers behind the scenes are telling him to say.
Koskinen -- who has contributed $100,000 to the Democrats over the years -- even admitted in an interview that the lost emails look suspicious. During his testimony, Koskinen insisted that no laws were broken, except that under questioning from Rep. Trey Gowdy, the commissioner conceded he was unfamiliar with any of the federal criminal statutes that might apply to alleged criminal wrongdoing at the tax-collecting agency.
Republicans haven't exactly covered themselves with glory either in the sometimes inept way several House committees have investigated the IRS Tea Party scandal.
The U.S. House has previously voted to hold Lerner, who has refused to testify before Congress, in contempt, and to refer her to the DOJ for federal prosecution. AG Holder, however, has shown zero enthusiasm or inclination for bringing criminal charges against her or for thoroughly conducting any investigations that would make the Obama administration look bad for that matter.
The supposed Justice Department investigation into the IRS Tea Party scandal -- which is reportedly directed by a Democrat staffer who has contributed money to the Obama election campaign -- seems to be a bridge to nowhere; for one thing, the FBI apparently has interviewed few if any of the victims of the IRS overreach in the past year. Holder himself, who has a history of evasive testimony at congressional hearings, has been held in contempt by the House for failing to turn over documents in connection with the botched Fast and Furious gunrunning operation that resulted in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and many others.
Even though the Justice Department investigation is ongoing, in a pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly, President Obama insisted that there wasn't even a "smidgeon" of corruption in the IRS scandal.
Taking to the Senate floor, Ted Cruz among other things referenced Attorney Generals such as Elliot Richardson and Janet Reno (a Republican and a Democrat) who have been willing to investigate their own administrations via the special prosecutor route.
Said Cruz in relation to the missing IRS emails:
It was wrong when Richard Nixon tried to use the IRS to target his political enemies, and it was wrong when the Obama administration tried and succeeded to do the same. The difference--when Richard Nixon did so, Republicans had the courage to stand up to a member of their own party. It saddens me that there isn't a single Democratic member of this body who has had the courage to stand up to their own party and say this abuse of power -- using the IRS to target citizens for their political beliefs -- is wrong... we need a special prosecutor with meaningful independence to make sure that justice is served, and that are constitutional rights to free speech, assembly, and privacy are protected."Continued Cruz:
It saddens me to say that the U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder has become the most partisan Department of Justice in the history of our country... IRS officials have stonewalled at every turn, and we should not wait a single minute to put an end to the intimidation and bullying of the American people... We need to restore that respect, that government officials work for the people and not the other way around... the Department of Justice has a storied history -- there is a history of attorneys general standing up to political pressure even against presidents who have appointed them.... "In addition, Ted Cruz claimed that Holder has refused to answer whether his investigation is probing the possibility of any White House political appointees, including the president, had any direct involvement in the IRS Tea Party Scandal.
Repeatedly I have called upon Attorney General Eric Holder to remove the investigation from the hands of a major Obama donor and put it instead in the hands of a special prosecutor with meaningful independence who at a very minimum is not a major Democratic donor. Even the slightest respect for the rule of law would suggest that the Attorney General should not be part and parcel of a political and partisan coverup..."
Taken together, all this has convinced Ted Cruz that impeachment proceedings and removal from office may be the appropriate remedy if Holder continues to ignore the scandal, particularly given the missing emails:
If Attorney General Eric Holder is unwilling to appoint a special prosecutor, if he insists on keeping this prosecution in the control of a major Obama donor, then Attorney General Eric Holder should be impeached, because the rule of law matters more than any partisan political party."In an accompanying statement, Cruz declared that "We need a special prosecutor with meaningful independence to make sure justice is served and our constitutional rights to free speech, assembly, and privacy are protected. If Attorney General Eric Holder does not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, the House should use its power to impeach him. Impeding justice is intolerable and he should not be permitted to refuse the American people a true investigation into the actions of those who used the machinery of government to target, intimate, and silence them for politically driven reasons."Note that Cruz in his spoken and written remarks stressed the importance of a special counsel with "meaningful independence," rather than one beholden to the Democrats and Obama who would just go through the motions and then try to sweep the whole IRS matter under the rug.
The Minnesota Star-Tribune, considered a liberal newspaper, has endorsed the naming of a special prosecutor which it called a "a necessary step, and the request should be expediently heeded by the Obama administration. Although there are two investigations underway in the Republican-controlled House, a nonpartisan review by an investigator with bipartisan respect and technological expertise is sorely needed. The public needs reassurance that the nation's tax-collection agency is run with integrity and that anyone who may have abused its formidable authority has been held accountable... The IRS expects Americans to hold onto receipts and other documents for years. The agency's lackadaisical data management suggests a higher bar for the public than agency officials. That the IRS dallied in telling Congress about the lost e-mails raises further questions about what happened. Lerner's unwillingness to testify is also troubling. And there's the timing of her hard-drive crash, which came 10 days after a Republican congressman sent a June 3, 2011, letter to the agency inquiring about audits of donors to the type of organization that had come under extra scrutiny... A special prosecutor could compel stronger cooperation from the IRS, consult technology experts and bring charges if necessary. Appointing one is a necessary and reasonable step to ensure that the American people learn the truth."
A federal judge could exercise the power on his own to appoint a special prosecutor even if the DOJ is unwilling to do so. The IRS is due back in court on July 10 to explain to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan which it failed to inform the court that Lois Lerner's emails were lost in the context of a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Judical Watch. Judge Sullivan previously ordered an independent investigation over prosecutorial misconduct in the politically motivated case that the government brought against the late U.S Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, a war hero and the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. Stevens' conviction was subsequently tosssed out because of corruption by prosecutors, but by then Stevens had narrowly lost reelection to Democrat Mark Begich, who was the 60th vote necessary for Obamacare to become law.
Most of the impeachment talk, and usually it is just that -- talk -- has centered on Obama. The Inquisitr previously suggested that House Speaker John Boehner's newly filed lawsuit against the president for alleged abuse of power via Congress-circumventing executive orders is a dress rehearsal for impeachment, but that seems a stretch. According to columnist and FNC commentator Charles Krauthammer, however, commenting on Obama's picking and choosing what laws to enforce and not enforce, "If this were a Republican, he would be impeached now over all of these abuses."
Theoretically the Republican-controlled House could approve articles of impeachment against Obama or Holder if it ever reached that far, but the effort would go nowhere in the Senate with the Democrats currently holding the majority. In a radio interview, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) said that "For those that say impeach [Obama] for breaking the laws or bypassing the laws. Could that pass in the House? It probably, it probably could. Is the majority the American people in favor of impeaching the president? I'm not sure."
Impeaching Obama -- again which is all theoretical -- would mean that Joe Biden would become president. Are the American people really ready for that aftereffect?
Separately, this week the IRS paid $50,000 to in a court-approved settlement for illegally disclosing confidential information in another politically charged matter: "The National Organization for Marriage has been awarded a $50,000 settlement from the IRS after the agency admitted wrongdoing in leaking the organization's 2008 tax return and the names and contact information of major donors. The information was forwarded from the IRS to the pro-gay marriage group Human Rights Campaign. That group then posted the data on its website during the 2012 presidential campaign. Unauthorized dissemination of such information is a felony." Based on the illegal disclosure, contributors to the pro-traditional marriage group were allegedly harassed and threatened, according to Investors Business Daily.
There has been no indication as to whether the Justice Department will conduct a criminal investigation into potential privacy violations in the leaking of confidential tax return information in the NOM case.
Do you think the impeach Holder concept floated by Sen. Ted Cruz will make any headway?