About a week ago, the Obama administration started talking about “phony scandals” and “distractions.” They didn’t have much of a choice. Their options were to attempt to delegitimize the scandals or to continue sinking in the polls.
Since the administration started with this spin, administration officials have been questioned about their characterization of the scandals as phony. The defenses offered by the administration, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s is among the most feeble. Here’s part of what he told NBC’s David Gregory:
After weeks and weeks of investigations, IG investigations, Justice Department investigations, congressional hearings, there’s no evidence of any political involvement in the decisions leading up to that situation.
First, that spin is inaccurate because Carter Hull testified last week that William Wilkins, President Obama’s appointee to the IRS Chief Counsel position, micromanaged the approval process for TEA Party organizations.
Second, it’s irrelevant what information has been gathered thus far in terms of whether the investigation should continue. It’s important we remember that IRS Commissioner Schulman initially denied that TEA Party organizations were being targeted. Later, the explanation was that this was confined to “rogue agents in the Cincinnati office.” Later still, Lois Lerner said she hadn’t done anything wrong, then asserted her right to not incriminate herself.
Each time Darrell Issa’s committee has tugged at a string of this all-too-real scandal, the administration’s explanation was discredited.
We know that William Wilkins has micromanaged the tax-exempt applications for TEA Party organizations from Washington, DC. We know that this administration has used the IRS and other agencies as a weapon against the American people. Just ask Catherine Engelbrecht if it’s a phony threat or if it’s real.
Third, the administration has pushed an absurdly high bar for whether the investigation should continue. Here’s how Peggy Noonan ridiculed Elijah Cummings in this column:
It was Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel’s ranking Democrat, who, absurdly, asked Ms. Hofacre if the White House called the Cincinnati office to tell them what to do and whether she has knowledge of the president of the United States digging through the tax returns of citizens. Ms. Hofacre looked surprised. No, she replied.
It wasn’t hard to imagine her thought bubble: Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, “Don’t forget to harass my enemies”? Are congressmen that stupid?
Asking an IRS agent if the president of the United States has called her is absurd. The only thing that’s been more absurd is this administration saying that the investigation should end because investigators haven’t found a smoking gun tying this president personally to the IRS’s harassment of TEA Party organizations.
Until we know who ordered the IRS’s harassment of TEA Party organizations, the investigation must continue. Until we know whether the White House, specifically West Wing staff, were involved at any level of the IRS’s taxpayer harassment scandal, the investigation must continue.