In case you were wondering if President Obama remains outraged about the IRS abuse of his political opponents, well, he isn’t. The president who said no one was more outraged about the abuse than he was last year, before he fake-fired the acting IRS commissioner, told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly Sunday that there was no corruption involved at all.
“That’s not what happened,” he said. Rather, he said, IRS officials were confused about how to implement the law governing those kinds of tax-exempt groups.
“There were some bone-headed decisions,” Obama conceded.
But when asked whether corruption, or mass corruption, was at play, he responded: “Not even mass corruption — not even a smidgen of corruption.”
You always have to keep your eye on the ball with this president. The IRS leaked the existence of the abuse in a conference call last May, and apologized for it at the same time. The leak itself came just ahead of an inspector general’s report that was about to disclose the abuse. The agency blamed the abuse on “rogue” officials in its Cincinnati office, but officials later testified that they were acting on orders from IRS headquarters in Washington. It was eventually revealed that the IRS leaked information from conservative groups to their critics on the left.
Career IRS lawyer Carter Hull testified that the applications involved were reviewed by William Wilkins, an Obama appointee in the IRS counsel’s office.
Then IRS commissioner Doug Shulman’s wife tweeted political attacks on the same groups that the IRS was abusing.
Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the abuse, eventually invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than testify before Congress about her role in the abuse. She developed a history of using her government positions to target and abuse conservatives. She was allowed to retire from the IRS last year rather than be fired. It was Lerner who first revealed the abuse. It turned out that she had worked with the White House counsel’s office on a “careful plan” to manage the rollout of the scandal, to minimize its damage. Lerner blamed the “rogue” officers in Cincinnati, but she had emailed colleagues that the Tea Party scrutiny was “very dangerous” and sought to work some of the tax-exempt applications involved from Washington.
In January 2014, the Obama donor appointed to “investigate” the abuse declined to bring any charges against anyone, which leads to the question: Why did Lois Lerner take the Fifth? If there were no crimes committed, how could Lerner incriminate herself?