USA Today reports on the latest IRS emails to see the light of day. In them, IRS officials gloat that they may have headed off the investigation into the agency’s illegal targeting of conservative groups.
Most disturbing, the inspector general’s office — which had been investigating the targeting — approves of how Lerner made the scandal public in the first place.
Remember, the scandal came to light when Lerner used a planted question on a conference call to apologize for it, May 2013. Up to then, some in Congress had been asking questions and the Treasury Inspector General had been investigating. Lerner issued the “apology” to get out ahead of the IG report.
The IG was fine with that, even calling the tactic “brilliant.”
The apology sparked an avalanche of questions from reporters and members of Congress.
The IRS wanted to tell The Washington Post‘s editorial page that “organizations from all parts of the political spectrum received the same, evenhanded treatment.” Lerner insisted that line come out of a draft statement because that would imply that the IRS kept track of the ideology of groups applying for exemptions. “It sounds like we track it, and we don’t,” she said.
Over at the inspector general’s office, officials were annoyed that Lerner had “jumped the gun” with the apology, spinning the contents of the audit report before it was released.
“This is a brilliant pre-emptive strike by the IRS,” wrote David Holmgren, the deputy inspector general for Inspections and Evaluations. “When we release next week, it will be old news.”
In response, the inspector general worked to move up the release of the audit.
This raises so many questions with regard to the IG and its own investigation. Were they colluding with the scandal’s central figures during the active investigation? Why did the IG’s Holmgren cheer Lerner on? She has emerged as the central figure in the scandal.
This is like the FBI tipping and working with mob figures it’s working to bring down.
Congress should expand the investigation, but even that is unlikely to get anywhere until a special prosecutor is appointed.