.. I wanted to include these columns from theses esteemed writers . I follow them both , and hold them in very high regard . Both have served our country , more than once , and just might do so again . On this subject , I wanted to give you both sides of the debate .
.. I am undecided . I expect that there will eventually be a special counsel appointed in terms of the I.R.S. affair . When that will happen , to be honest , I do not know . But , it will happen . It also has to be balanced against the accountability that is needed to our country for the actions of the ObamaCraps in the gross misconduct of the I.R.S. . How high up it goes , and how far , I am not sure …
… from the National Review …
… No …
.. No Special Counsel for the IRS Scandal
It would address the symptoms, not the underlying cancer.
Andrew C. McCarthy
It is the Washington way. Egregious misconduct surfaces, showcasing the militantly officious nature of bloated big-government bureaucracy. But the Beltway and the commentariat cry in unison for a special counsel, ensuring that the symptoms — a few corrupt bureaucrats — will get all the attention while the underlying cancer metastasizes.
In the unfolding IRS scandal, we already know President Obama’s conservative political opponents were targeted for the revenue agency’s version of waterboarding. On cue, prominent Republicans and conservatives are starting to call for a special counsel — clearly under the misimpression that a “special counsel” would mean a prosecutor “independent” of the Obama Justice Department. Here at NRO, my friend Larry Kudlow lends his voice to those advising the GOP that a special counsel is the way to go. With due respect, I think it would be a blunder.
The special counsel is a legal anomaly. More important, pushing for one sends entirely the wrong signals. It indicates that criminal culpability takes precedence over political accountability. Worse, it suggests that the evil here is the malfeasance of a few government officials. To the contrary, the problem is a perversely complex regulatory framework that gives the IRS — which should simply collect taxes based on an easily knowable formula — enormous discretionary power to discriminate and intimidate. That makes the IRS an un-American weapon, particularly when it is controlled by an Alinskyite will-to-power administration. Sure, we can worry about prosecuting the weapon-wielders at some point. The urgent problem here, though, is the weapon itself. Our energy should be devoted to exposing the scandal in the light of day and shaming Washington into dismantling the IRS — which is actually planned to swell markedly, and grow even more intrusively offensive, under Obamacare.
Let’s start with the law. Special-counsel proponents seem to think “special” means “independent.” Larry, for example, contends that “an independent special counsel can investigate any possible White House connections with senior Treasury officials, connections that could lead to the Oval Office” (emphasis in original) — adding in conclusion that “only an independent special counsel could possibly straighten this mess out.” Under our law, however, special counsels are not independent of the administration in power.
A quarter-century ago, Justice Antonin Scalia presciently argued against the independent counsel in his famous Morrison v. Olson dissent. In our constitutional system, all executive power is reposed in the president. The conduct of criminal investigations is, unquestionably, a purely executive power. Consequently, there cannot be any legitimate federal exercise of prosecutorial authority independent of the executive branch.
“Special” counsels may be special in the sense that they are singularly dedicated to a particular investigation. They may even be exempted from the Justice Department’s ordinary prosecutorial structure (in which each case is investigated by the U.S. attorney’s office in the district with jurisdiction over the offenses alleged to have taken place). But special counsels are not independent of the executive branch. They still answer to the attorney general and, ultimately, the president.
Any other arrangement violates the Constitution’s separation-of-powers principle. It deprives the president of control over the exercise of executive power. It creates a politically unaccountable fourth branch of government, whose myopic mission is to pursue one target (or set of targets), burdened by none of the constraints — political, budgetary, substantive, or procedural — that ameliorate the Justice Department’s aggressiveness.
Our historical experience with independent counsels has demonstrated them to be just the monstrosity Justice Scalia foresaw. Although the Morrison Court upheld the independent-counsel provisions enacted by the post-Watergate Congress (in the 1978 Ethics in Government Act), Congress prudently allowed statutory authority for independent counsels to lapse in 1999. By then, both parties’ oxen had been gored aplenty, from Iran-Contra through Monica Lewinsky.
We have had “special” counsels since that time, but no independent ones in the sense of formal autonomy from the Justice Department and the president. And the more independent the charters of special counsels have been, the more strident have been the complaints about their zeal. In the most recent example, Patrick Fitzgerald (full disclosure: a longtime friend of mine) was given an especially wide berth by the Bush Justice Department to investigate an allegedly felonious leak of classified information. As it turned out, the leak was not unlawful, yet Fitzgerald ended up first jailing journalist Judy Miller for contempt (Miller refused, for a time, to identify her sources to his grand jury), then prosecuting Scooter Libby not for the leak but for “process crimes” (i.e., offenses — perjury and lying to agents — alleged to have been committed during the investigative process). Those legitimately worried about leaks were left unsatisfied while Libby admirers remain convinced that he was railroaded.
Let’s put law and atmospherics aside and try to be completely practical. The imperative in the IRS scandal is not criminal prosecution. It is political accountability: to lay bare what corrupt officials have done, for the purpose of swiftly determining whether they are unfit to hold offices of public trust and whether the system in which they operate tends to corruption. The appointment of a special counsel would undermine that goal.
The moment a prosecutor — special or otherwise — takes over, the public flow of information stops. All witnesses will claim that the pendency of a criminal investigation means they cannot discuss the matter “on advice of counsel.” They will cease cooperating with congressional investigators. The prosecutor will claim that grand-jury secrecy rules bar comment about the expansive investigation (a claim the government routinely makes, even though the rules actually bar comment only by the prosecutor, investigative agents, and grand jurors — not the witnesses).
A special counsel chosen by Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama would be no different. It would not get us to accountability; it would be a severe impediment to accountability. And it would be a lifeline for the IRS.
… Yes … No less than a special counsel
.. Larry Kudlow .. from moneynews.com ..
When you get right down to it, the political targeting and stalling of tax-exempt applications by the IRS was an effort to defund the tea party. Rick Santelli, one of the tea party founders and my CNBC colleague, was the first to make this point. I’ve taken it a step further: The IRS was taking the tea party out of play for the 2012 election, as it looked to avoid a repeat of 2010 and another tea party landslide.
There are a lot of numbers out there. Some say tea party applications for tax-exempt status averaged 27 months for approval, while applications from liberal groups averaged nine. In one extreme case, according to The Daily Caller, the IRS granted the Barack H. Obama Foundation tax-exempt status in a speedy one-month timeframe. Yet some conservative groups waited up to three years, and some still haven’t received approval.
But there can be only one reason for the stalled-out approval process for conservative groups. The IRS was trying to put them out of business. Thus far, there’s not one wit of contradictory evidence.
Think of this: If the IRS wasn’t politically targeting conservative groups, why did its leading spokespeople lie? This was not even cognitive dissonance. It was outright lying before Congress. Lois Lerner, a key player in the IRS’s tax-exempt division, is being accused by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of no fewer than four lies. The inspector general’s report shows that she knew about the targeting problem in June 2011, but wouldn’t admit to it in correspondence with Congress over the next two years.
Then there’s former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, a Bush appointee. He apparently knew about the targeting in May 2012, but told Congress in August 2012 that he didn’t.
Or there’s former IRS acting director Steve Miller, who was just pushed out. He also knew about the targeting in May 2012, but later refused to admit it to Congress during testimony.
In fact, the whole bloody agency may have known about it on August 4, 2011. According to the Treasury Department IG report, various IRS big wigs met that day to talk about the conservative-targeting problem. That meeting may have included the IRS’s chief counsel; while the IG report says he was at the meeting, the IRS has denied that he was. But if one of his minions was at the meeting, the chief counsel would have known about the problem.
And it turns out, the Treasury’s inspector general, J. Russell George, told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 that he was auditing the IRS’s political-organization screening. That means White House appointees in the Treasury, including Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, were aware of the IRS scandal before the presidential election. According to The New York Times, IG George “did not tell the officials of his conclusions that the targeting had been improper.”
No one knows the exact facts, which presumably will come out in the hearings. But this is important stuff. It is conspiracy stuff. Criminal stuff.
We already know that IRS employees gave heavily to Obama in 2008 and 2012, and very little to candidates McCain and Romney. But who was the quarterback in all this? Who was managing the targeting operation in the bowels of the IRS?
It could have been Sarah Hall Ingram. She served as commissioner of the IRS’s tax-exempt division between 2009 and 2012. And she got a $100,000 bonus for her efforts. And now — incredibly — she’s running the IRS’s Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) office, leaving her successor Joseph Grant to take the fall. But he just turned tail and resigned.
And now get this: President Obama has named OMB Controller Daniel Werfel the new acting director of the IRS. And he’s only going to serve between May 22 and the end of the fiscal year, which is September 30. Are you kidding?
In four months, we’re to believe Mr. Werfel is going to piece together the lies, finger the quarterback, and replace everybody who was involved, not just in the now-infamous Cincinnati office, but in offices in Washington, D.C., two towns in California, and even Austin, Texas. (That’s the latest count.) And this guy Werfel is also supposed to manage the agency which is adding Obamacare to its income-tax-collection responsibilities. In four months. Nuts.
An independent special counsel with subpoena power is the only possible solution. This counsel must find out exactly what happened and who was involved, and then come up with a fix so it never happens again. Of course, Obama charged Treasury Secretary Jack Lew with straightening this out. But Lew is an Obama political operative.
By the way, a special counsel will have to do a special investigation, since we’re already learning the inspector-general investigation was a very superficial operation. And an independent special counsel can investigate any possible White House connections with senior Treasury officials, connections that could lead to the Oval Office.
We may hate the IRS because of its taxing power. We may hate it more because of its new Obamacare power. But it is a massively important government agency. And now we know that it is fraught with corruption and a liberal-left political agenda.
Only an independent special counsel could possibly straighten this mess out.