As expected, the House Oversight Committee voted on party lines, 21-12, to approve contempt of Congress charges against former IRS Tax Exempt Organizations director Lois Lerner. The resolution will now proceed to a vote by the full House, which seems likely to approve it, especially since the entire House GOP leadership team has been signaling their approval. That includes Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who grew very angry with the Administration’s latest attempt to protect itself from oversight by playing the race card:
House Oversight deliberations on Thursday morning were quite fiery, especially since the lead Democrat on the committee has been revealed as an active participant in the scandal. Marvel as the “by any means necessary” socialist Democrat Party suddenly transforms into a staunch defender of individual Constitutional rights, at least in the case of one specific individual, Lois G. Lerner. I wonder what they’d say about her Constitutional rights if Lerner opened a business and objected to paying for abortifacient drugs under ObamaCare on religious grounds.
From The Hill:
Republicans have ruled that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by proclaiming her innocence in a May 2013 opening statement before Oversight, and say that she can fill many of the holes left in the committee’s investigation into the IRS’s scrutiny of groups seeking tax-exempt status.
“It would be irresponsible for the committee not to vigorously pursue her testimony,” Issa said in his opening statement.
Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), one of Lerner’s most strident critics, added that Republicans needed to march forward because investigations like the Justice Department’s were “a complete joke.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) and other GOP lawmakers also left no doubt that they thought Lerner had lost Fifth Amendment protections, with Gowdy saying the now-retired IRS official had made 17 different factual statements during her first appearance before the panel.
Democrats, meanwhile, took pains to stress that they weren’t defending Lerner or her performance as chief of an IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups, just her constitutional rights.
Cummings, for instance, said he wanted to know why Lerner had kept Congress in the dark about the IRS’s treatment of Tea Party groups.
“We are defending Ms. Lerner’s right to exercise her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination precisely because she cuts a less than heroic figure,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
But Cummings, Connolly and other Democrats also openly compared Thursday’s proceedings with McCarthyism.
“I cannot cast a vote that would place me on the same page of the history books as Senator Joseph McCarthy or the House Un-American Activities Committee,” Cummings said. “And I do not draw that comparison lightly.”
So “McCarthyism” is now the determination to investigate the abuse of power in a witch hunt against American citizens? George Orwell, call your office!
As usual, Cummings (who should the subject of an investigation, not holding any sort of role in determining whether one occurs) and his crew are trying to turn the hearings into a partisan circus, to obstruct inquiries they seem to be growing extremely nervous about. They were so close to dragging this scandal over the finish line, to a chorus of “old news!” hosannas from their media pals, and now look what’s happening.
The Hill does Rep. Trey Gowdy a disservice by merely summarizing his remarks. Here he is, en fuego:
Hopefully Rep. Gowdy remembered to recycle that can of whup-ass after he finished emptying it. His bank-robbery analogy becomes even livelier when you remember that Gowdy used to prosecute actual bank robberies, before serving in Congress. And his point about the different treatment accorded to Lois Lerner and the groups she targeted for political persecution sums up what this scandal is all about: different rules for the powerful versus the people. None of the excuses and maneuvers Lerner and her Democrat protectors employ were available to the Tea Party groups she harassed. They had to answer questions under threat of perjury. It’s long past time for Lerner and company to do the same.