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by
Bridget Johnson

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May 7, 2014 - 4:25 pm

The House voted 231-187 on Wednesday to find former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress after a heated floor debate led by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

Six Democrats joined Republicans in voting yes: Reps. Ron Barber (Ariz.), John Barrow (Ga.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).

“Lois Lerner can’t have it both ways. I voted to hold her in contempt because once she decided to give an opening statement; she was obligated to answer questions,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said after the vote. “The American people deserve to hear what really happened at the IRS and why conservative groups were targeted. This action shows that this sort of government instituted political harassment can’t and won’t be tolerated in a free society. The Contempt of the U.S. House of Representatives is a serious matter and one that I don’t take lightly, but there is no doubt the facts of this case warrant this action.”

“Had Ms. Lerner cooperated with our constitutional oversight responsibility on behalf of the American people, we would not have been forced to take this action,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). “We expect, and the American people demand, full and truthful answers from this executive branch in these matters. The House will not rest until they are provided.”

The House also passed a resolution — with 26 Democrats in support — calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

“Sadly, the Attorney General has refused to make an appointment, which is well within his purview,” Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said. “That is why I am pleased the House took up and passed a resolution to officially direct him to do so. Answers are long overdue and it is clear a special prosecutor is needed to investigate this scandal fully, fairly, without bias, or undue influence.”

Cummings blasted the vote by accusing Issa of taking “a page out of the playbook of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who tried—and failed—to use this same tactic sixty years ago.”

“Today, House Republicans took a significant step backwards in their duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution by voting to strip an American citizen of her Fifth Amendment rights,” Cummings said in a statement. “…Dozens of independent legal experts have warned that Chairman Issa’s partisan contempt resolution is Constitutionally deficient and will be thrown out of court, but he has ignored these experts and pressed ahead.”

“I am profoundly disappointed that the House Republicans voted down my amendment to have just one hearing with independent legal experts on this grave Constitutional issue before taking today’s vote, and that they blocked my request to release to the public the full transcripts of all 39 interviews the Committee conducted with IRS and Treasury Department employees—transcripts that show there was no White House involvement or political motivation in the screening of applicants for tax-exempt status,” he added.

“After a year of baseless Republican claims accusing the White House of orchestrating the targeting of conservative groups, I continue to believe that Congress should let the American people read the facts for themselves.”

Issa, though, called the vote “a step toward a level of accountability that the Obama Administration has been unwilling to take.”

“To preempt the release of an independent investigation, Ms. Lerner publicly admitted that the IRS division she led had targeted conservatives. After waiving her right to protection from self-incrimination, Lerner had a choice: testify fully and truthfully about what occurred or face criminal contempt. Ms. Lerner refused to testify even after her attorney told Congress she would do so,” he continued.

“Unless the President decides to assert executive privilege, there is no precedent for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to do anything but pursue this criminal case. Absent political interference by the Administration, this legally binding action – as well as a separate resolution calling for a special prosecutor to take over the Main Justice Department’s tainted and dormant investigation – require the Justice Department to take action.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Cummings is guilty as sin in targeting political opponents and using the government as a weapon against those who do not agree with his politics.

The use of government as a weapon is treason. It is tyranny. And Cummings and Lerner engaged in it willingly and with a sneering contempt for the duty to protect, not attack, citizens of this nation to whom they owe the highest duty of insulation against totalitarian tactics.

Lerner gave a speech that declared her innocence and THEN defied the representatives of the people to disprove it.

The notion that a high ranking conspirator can hide behind protections she ripped from the hands of those she meant to destroy and can mock the laws she broke by declaring herself above them...should be met with the swiftest and harshest condemnation and the FULL punishment that comes at the end of a guilty verdict for her high treason.

Cummings is the LEAST viable spokesperson for what justice should result in this matter, because he is a conspiratorial serial offender.

I say that the Constitution states plainly that the offense against the PEOPLE is the gravest of crimes.

If the Democrats do not believe in the Constitution then they can continue to attempt this overthrow of it and suffer the gallows or they can get the hell out of my country and take their idiot traitorous base with them.

The government as a weapon is no government. It is an overthrow of Constitutional, free market, self-representation.

I would hang those found to be plotting against it. Lerner AND Cummings are guilty of the highest crime in this land.

Build the gallows.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Cummings is basing his objections on it being the tactic last used by someone history proved to be correct?

Isn't Cummings due for an ethics committee ruling?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (19)
All Comments   (19)
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Has everyone in this administration perfected the 'Mussolini sneer'?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
She likely has a lot more to fear from the WH than Congress. She knows too much.

The question is how much she'll be protected, and when/if that fails, how soon it will be before she, too, finds herself under the bus.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sweetie, unless the FCMABBHO Administration has a photograph of you having sex with a donkey in Tijuana, it's time to go for a deal.

Yeah, that's crude but, what else could these creeps have on her in order to get her to throw herself on the sword?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem Sweet Lois has, is that she probably has far more dirt on "those creeps" in the Obama regime, than they have on her. Right now, she's walking a very fine line between spending time in Federal prison, and spilling the beans on some very powerful people.

Definitely NOT a healthy situation to be in.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Methinks your on to something here, Sir Gridley. There's more than one reason why lapdog AG Holder won't appoint a special counsel, and you can bet it can be traced to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even worse, it's been established that Lerner was having conversations with people at Justice, so the fox is really in charge of the hen house.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd love to be here attorney!!!!!!!
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not sure I would. I think I'd have resigned when she asserted her innocence......right after invoking her rights under the Fifth Amendment.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cummings AGAIN knee jerks to what HE feels is emotive-led sensationalism.

Doesn't this chode know of let alone acknowledge the Venona Papers?

Leave it to another dipchit illiberal using a FALSE narrative in his go nowhere diatribe. When essentially the ONLY thing he proves is his lacking knowledge of American History.

Pathetic.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Colin Peterson (one of the six D yes voters) is from Minnesota, I believe.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Um, what is the constitutional/legal basis/precedent for a contempt of Congress finding to result in prosecution by the administrative and judicial branches?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
See 2 U.S.C.A. § 192, enacted in 1938, which states that any person who is summoned before Congress who "willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry" shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a maximum $1,000 fine and 12 month imprisonment.

Also; Quinn v. U.S., 349 U.S. 155, 75 S. Ct. 668, 99 L. Ed. 964, 51 A.L.R.2d 1157 (1955) and Fields v. U.S., 164 F.2d 97 (App. D.C. 1947).
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Update;

There is also the concept of "inherent contempt" in which the House tries the case on the floor of the House. People have been imprisoned for inherent contempt and it has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

See; http://cdn.rollcall.com/news/in_showdown_with_lerner_house_imprisonment_not_out_of_the_question-232638-1.html?popular=true&cdn_load=true&zkPrintable=1&nopagination=1
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks.

Of course additional questions follow, do they have to send the sergeant at arms to arrest her, and do they have a cell to hold her, and shouldn't that fine be indexed for inflation to $100k, etc? I mean, do we expect to *see* her locked up at this point, or who decides on the exact fine and duration? Has it actually been acted upon in any of these cases?

For that matter, is what you described the same as a "contempt" finding, or who else declares that such a refusal etc has occurred by statute?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
My understanding is that, if either House votes a finding of contempt, that's it, she's in contempt, and in violation of Federal law. She's subject to arrest by the FBI, or other designated Federal law enforcement agency, and to be incarcerated in Federal prison, pending due process in the applicable Federal court, The DOJ must appoint a prosecutor who will prosecute the case.

Eric Holder may try to wriggle out of this one, by claiming prosecutorial discretion, but that's getting pretty thin, and probably won't fly in this case, since Holder himself, is in contempt of Congress. Holder would almost certainly be impeached if the Republicans win the Senate. That may happen regardless.

The other possibility would be for Obama to claim Executive Privilege, but that would mean he was directly involved in the IRS abuse. I don't think he wants to do that.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cummings is guilty as sin in targeting political opponents and using the government as a weapon against those who do not agree with his politics.

The use of government as a weapon is treason. It is tyranny. And Cummings and Lerner engaged in it willingly and with a sneering contempt for the duty to protect, not attack, citizens of this nation to whom they owe the highest duty of insulation against totalitarian tactics.

Lerner gave a speech that declared her innocence and THEN defied the representatives of the people to disprove it.

The notion that a high ranking conspirator can hide behind protections she ripped from the hands of those she meant to destroy and can mock the laws she broke by declaring herself above them...should be met with the swiftest and harshest condemnation and the FULL punishment that comes at the end of a guilty verdict for her high treason.

Cummings is the LEAST viable spokesperson for what justice should result in this matter, because he is a conspiratorial serial offender.

I say that the Constitution states plainly that the offense against the PEOPLE is the gravest of crimes.

If the Democrats do not believe in the Constitution then they can continue to attempt this overthrow of it and suffer the gallows or they can get the hell out of my country and take their idiot traitorous base with them.

The government as a weapon is no government. It is an overthrow of Constitutional, free market, self-representation.

I would hang those found to be plotting against it. Lerner AND Cummings are guilty of the highest crime in this land.

Build the gallows.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The use of government as a weapon is treason. No, it's not. Treason is the only crime defined in the body of the Constitution, Article 3, Section 3: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

The crime of treason was narrowly defined because of the history of abuse of the High Treason laws by the British Crown. See, for example, Ann Boleyn and Sir Walter Raleigh, who offended the Crown.

I say that the Constitution states plainly that the offense against the PEOPLE is the gravest of crimes. You may say it, but that doesn't make it so. Article and Section, please.

I would hang those found to be plotting against it. Sure you would, except that they are under the protection of that very Constitution, as are you and I, if someone on the left were to make a similar accusation against us, and would advocate our execution without due process.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm surprised 6 & then 26 Fascist-Democrats voted with the GOP.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Cummings is basing his objections on it being the tactic last used by someone history proved to be correct?

Isn't Cummings due for an ethics committee ruling?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
He is long overdue, but this is his accomplice being held in contempt.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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