By Jay Sekulow • Fox News
And, now it is even clearer that the Obama administration’s Department of Justice is incapable of holding accountable those responsible for a massive illegal targeting scheme. Even worse, its own involvement in the scandal not only means that it can’t properly investigate the IRS, it should instead be investigated for cooperating with the IRS in its campaign of censorship and oppression.
The latest troubling development comes as the Justice Department announced it will not pursue criminal contempt charges against former top IRS official Lois Lerner – who’s at the center of a scandal that unlawfully targeted conservative and Tea Party groups because of their political views.
In May 2013, Lerner proclaimed her innocence at a House hearing before invoking her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself.
“I have not done anything wrong,” Lerner said in her 2013 opening statement. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations. And I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”
Then she refused to answer questions from members of Congress. And at a hearing in March 2014, she remained silent, refusing again to answer questions. Two months later, the House approved a criminal contempt resolution against Lerner.
The Justice Department is making a mockery of our criminal justice system.
So after a year-long investigation, the Justice Department now says Lerner did not waive her constitutional rights when she proclaimed her innocence and that no criminal contempt charges are warranted. The conclusion: nothing there. Lerner acted properly.
Sadly, this conclusion, while disturbing, is not surprising. This latest development reflects what has become standard operating procedure for the Obama administration in its so-called “investigation” of this unlawful targeting scheme by the IRS.
The Justice Department is making a mockery of our criminal justice system. It’s not independent. It was fully involved in the IRS targeting scheme.
Lerner and the DOJ teamed up to attempt to fabricate criminal prosecutions of conservatives — prosecutions that could have ended in jail time. In a May 8, 2013 email, Lerner admits that she’s been in contact with a DOJ official, who was working to “piece together false statement cases about applicants who ‘lied’” on their applications. “Piece together” means “make up.”
Here’s another example of the conflict of interest: Documents obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last year revealed that a Justice Department attorney defending the IRS actually worked at the IRS and was involved in the IRS’ illegal scheme.
And then there’s this: Civil Rights Division attorney Barbara Bosserman — a top donor to President Obama’s election campaigns and the Democratic National Committee — heads up the DOJ’s ongoing criminal investigation. The Justice Department has refused to remove her because of that conflict.
How could the DOJ conduct any investigation when it is at the center of the scandal?
Most Americans understand that a credible investigation must be independent — and conducted free of politically partisan investigators who simply should not investigate themselves.
But in March 2014, the Justice Department declined to appoint a special prosecutor, concluding the case doesn’t present a conflict of interest or “other extraordinary circumstances.”
Yet, the inspector general for the IRS has concluded just the opposite, saying that it is investigating “potential criminal activity” in the supposed disappearance of Lerner’s emails – investigating a cover-up.
After the DOJ said it would not prosecute Lerner for criminal contempt, Lerner’s attorney said she’s “pleased to have this matter resolved and looks forward to moving on with her life.”
Unfortunately, our dozens of clients who were unlawfully targeted by the IRS are having a difficult time moving on with their lives. Those who have been approved by the IRS have faced years of delays. And there’s several who are still waiting — one group has been on-hold for five years, waiting for a determination by the IRS. That’s despite a new assertion this week by the IRS commissioner who claims the massive backlog of cases pending has been cleared up and that “our inventory of applications is now current.”
That’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect as our lawsuit continues in federal court. In the Obama administration’s world, the facts don’t matter. The administration continues to double-down on its strategy to dodge and delay. And while they hope this scandal just fades away, the American people know better — they want to the truth — and they deserve it.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He is author of the New York Times bestseller, “Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore.”