Scandal: The endless stream of IRS visitors to the White House and the involvement of campaign donors in the Tea Party-targeting scandal belie the claim by the head of the agency that there is no White House involvement.
Yet IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeated the argument by Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee at Monday night's hearing that enough evidence was in to dismiss the idea that the IRS scandal was a cover-up directed from the White House.
That did not sit well with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who noted that those who blame the GOP for raising a possible White House connection ignore some inconvenient facts. "It was Jay Carney that perpetuated the myth that it was two rogue agents in Ohio. It wasn't any of us. Was that accurate?" Gowdy asked the IRS chief.
Gowdy also noted President Obama's insistence to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that there was not a "smidgeon of corruption" at the IRS — an odd statement coming from a supposedly above-the-battle chief executive as investigations by both the Congress and the IRS Inspector General were still going on. That is, unless he was getting updates and assurances from IRS personnel all along.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked Koskinen how it was that he waited two months to tell Congress that critical Lois Lerner emails from the Tea Party-targeting period had been lost when Treasury and White House officials learned of it in April, the same month Koskinen says he was told by someone he can't remember on a date he can't remember. Koskinen said he has no idea who at the IRS told them about it. Well, somebody did, and there's no shortage of IRS candidates.
On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee had to issue a subpoena to Jennifer O'Connor of the White House Counsel's office for testimony, and it goes beyond White House claims of confidentiality and executive privilege. O'Connor was counselor to then-IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel from May to December 2013. Like Koskinen, she tap-danced around committee questions.
As Chairman Darrell Issa noted in the subpoena announcement, "Before her promotion to the White House, Ms. O'Connor led the response to the congressional targeting inquiry, and she is uniquely qualified to explain why attorneys did not focus on and flag Lerner's 'lost' e-mails at the outset." It's also just one more interesting connection between the IRS and the White House.
Was O'Connor's promotion to the White House counsel's office a reward for protecting the IRS and an attempt to protect her from congressional inquiries? Certainly it might be argued that Koskinen's current position is owed to four decades of being a prodigious Democratic donor.
Koskinen has contributed to every Democratic presidential candidate since 1980, including $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and $5,000 to Obama in 2012.
As we've noted, Nikole Flax, chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who had similar problems with her hard drive, made at least 31 visits to the White House. The former IRS commissioner, Douglas Shulman, made some 118 visits.
Flax, the Daily Caller reports, met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy, on Oct. 5, 2012 and Jan. 15, 2013. Lambrew, the Caller said, exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups in 2012 with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram, who visited the White House 165 times.
No White House involvement? To us, it seems like the IRS scandal's mission control.
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