May 13, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Starr Turn? Not only Republicans have called for an IRS special prosecutor.

The House has approved a resolution calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor in the Internal Revenue Service scandal. This isn’t just a Republican idea. Last week’s 250-168 vote was bipartisan, with 26 Democrats joining 224 Republicans in voting aye. And one of the first to suggest a special prosecutor, almost a year ago, was a liberal columnist, Bill Keller of the New York Times. . . .

Obama initially paid lip service to the seriousness of the scandal, commenting a year ago tomorrow that the abuse of the IRS was “outrageous, and there is no place for it, and they have to be held fully accountable. . . . I have got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it, and we will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this.”

By this February he had changed his tune utterly, telling Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that while the agency might have made “some boneheaded decisions,” there was “not even a smidgen of corruption.” He cited “multiple hearings on this” but didn’t mention that congressional investigations were stymied by ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s refusal to testify and by the IRS’s failure to turn over documents.

The House also voted last week, 231-187, to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress (only six Democrats were with the Republicans on that one). The next day, the IRS told Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that “it will hand over all the Lerner e-mails related to the scandal,” a New York Post editorial notes. In March, the IRS had said “it ‘would take years to produce’ all the data Congress demanded.”

By now it seems clear that Obama is very much among those Democrats who, as Keller put it, “are not so much looking for ‘the truth’ as trying to change the subject.” As for “governing,” a report in the Washington Post suggests that in Obama’s view it is completely subsumed by electoral politics.

It always has been.

Plus: “At any rate, it’s a safe bet that Attorney General Holder–who has himself been held in contempt of Congress–will neither appoint a special prosecutor nor follow up on Lerner’s contempt citation. Which means it will be left to congressional investigators to get to the bottom of the abuse of the IRS.”