On May 15, President Obama publicly ordered Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to investigate the IRS abuse scandal. On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace challenged Lew on how the investigation is going. Here’s the clip — go forward past the 11 minute mark for the IRS section. It turns out that the investigation isn’t going anywhere, because Lew isn’t asking any questions to pursue it.
Lew also lied to Wallace a time or two, but Wallace didn’t let him off the hook.
“We went through to find the facts,” Lew said. “It was equal opportunity bad judgment. It was conservative groups, it was progressive groups.”
“At equal numbers, or grossly disproportionate number of conservative groups?” Wallace asked.
“There are an equal number of groups, but the bad judgment was equal opportunity,” Lew said. “There were a number of supervisors, all career, who exercised bad judgment, who were relieved of their responsibilities. I think what happened there was unjustifiable…[But] there’s no political official who condoned it or authorized it.”
Who was relieved of duty? Lois Lerner supposedly was, after she took the Fifth and refused to testify, but even she was able to log into her computer after being allegedly relieved — and she’s still being paid. Who else? Lew doesn’t name any, and they’re all unionized, so firing them outright is next to impossible in the time span from May 10 to now.
Lew’s claim that there were an equal number of groups abused is flat-out false. The entire scandal began when conservative groups complained to their congressional representatives that their applications were being held up. No progressive groups were lodging similar complaints. No progressive group founders were subjected to anything like what True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht was subjected to.
Wallace invoked the testimony of Carter Hull, an outgoing IRS official, who has said he was ordered to send tea party applications to the chief counsel’s office. The chief counsel, William Wilkins, is one of two political appointees in the IRS, and reports to the Treasury Department.
“To be clear, there are 1600 lawyers in the chief counsel’s office,” Lew said. “There was no suggestion that this went to the one political person in that office. There’s no evidence of it, there has been no evidence of it.”
“Wait a minute!” Wallace said. “Have you asked him?”
“I’m leaving the investigation the proper people who do the investigations—”
“Has somebody in the Treasury Department asked William Wilkins what he knew about this?” Wallace said.
“Chris, there is no evidence that this went to any political official.”
An investigator is unlikely to find what he refuses to look for.
Since May 10, the scandal has evolved from “a couple of rogue employees in Cincinnati,” to high IRS involvement, to going inside the IRS chief counsel’s office, at least. In that same time, President Obama has gone from saying that the abuse was “outrageous” and that no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than he does, to being satisfied with a non-investigation of a “phony scandal.”