Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

IRS Scandal Is a ‘Crime’ in Boehner-McConnell Echo Chamber

The three-ingredient stew pot of Obama administration controversy got a personal stir this morning from the top Republicans in Congress — both of whom suggested that federal crimes were committed when the IRS targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny.

Separate statements by Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, just a few minutes apart, suggested a coordinated decision by the GOP leadership to turn up the political pressure on the president as high as possible. It may serve to prevent the White House from shaping the narrative as one in which thorough punitive follow-through will follow the exposure of bad behavior.

“Now, my question isn’t about who’s going to resign. My question is who’s going to jail over this scandal?” Boehner told reporters after the first of two GOP caucus meetings today. “Someone made a conscious decision to harass and hold up these requests for tax exempt status. I think we need to know who they are, whether they violated the law. Clearly someone violated the law.”

McConnell was just one notch less emphatic in his suspicions. “If there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those that the administration disagreed with in the middle of a heated national election, it actually could be criminal and we’re determined to get the answers,” he said on the floor.

He also announced that 40 other GOP senators had joined him on a letter to the president demanding additional disclosures in the case, including regarding an apparent lack of candor about the IRS targeting when some officials were asked about it in congressional testimony more than a year ago.

The GOP leaders are likely to get what they say they’re after. Both spoke the morning after a Treasury inspector general concluded that lax oversight permitted the targeting of groups with conservative-sounding names to be singled out for heightened and extensive review of their applications. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said he would follow through on Obama’s orders to fire the people responsible for the “intolerable and inexcusable” conduct.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that the FBI had started investigating the matter last week to see if the “outrageous and unacceptable” moves were criminal behavior. He’ll be pressed to say more on that score, as well as about his department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records as part of a leak investigation, when he testifies this afternoon before the House Judiciary Committee.

Neither Boehner nor McConnell talked about the AP case this morning, but the speaker said he wasn’t backing away from his considerable interest in the kaleidoscope  of contradictory information that’s circulated since the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya’s second-biggest city.

That controversy now appears to be slipping quickly into third place among the dust-ups that are dominating Washington. “I don’t want to prolong this any more than anyone else,” Boehner said. “What I want is the truth.”

  • steinerrw

    They wouldn’t call it a crime if it were the republicans who did it. The IRS is completly correct in their actions going after groups which are no more than PAC’s for these republican lobyists…if they don’t like it…PLEASE LEAVE US.

  • Paula Bourgeois

    The Bush Administration did do it!. How soon we forget. I am really sick of the repugnants and their stirring up trouble so they don’t have to take action on the real issues pending and I agree with you totally. LEAVE US

    • TashaTchin

      I don’t know if “Dubya” did it, but I sure do know that Bush 41 did. And, the same IRS abuses took place under the Clinton admin, though Clinton didn’t personally target “enemies” he let the Democrats in the House and Senate make the referrals for IRS scrutiny for him. Oh, and Paula, you don’t have to be a Democrat to be a victim of oppression by the Republicans. Nor do you have to be a Republican to fall victim of Democrat oppression. All you need do is oppose those in power and those in power will come after you — R or D, it doesn’t much matter. Take it from an independent who has seen the oppression from both sides of the same, corrupt, two-headed coin. Anyone who disagrees with the above statement of fact is in denial and needs the help of a licensed mental health professional.

  • Jb Feucht

    A government agency is in trouble for doing its job.

    • TashaTchin

      You mean giving out billions in illegal tax credit checks to illegal aliens claiming fraudulent numbers of nieces and nephews living with them in order to defraud the taxpayers out of five-figure refunds? No scrutiny for these special ITIN filers — even though the IG reported the high levels of obvious fraud involved in the “extra child credit” claims and the media reported the illegal Latino abuses, too. Why no scrutiny for foreign criminals defrauding the system? Oh, but these foreign crooks are possible Democrat Party illegal voters, so no scrutiny for them! And, no jail time for fraud or willful perjury on their IRS forms, either. Wesley Snipes must be really pissed-off right about now. Jail the black man but give the illegal Latino a free pass. How progressive!

  • Jb Feucht

    verbal irony runs deep in DC.

  • Publicus

    Tax reform needed, waiting for library copy of David Cay Johnston latest-nonpartsian truthdigger-a must read. As a smoker I’ve been a targeted group where my dealer keeps increasing the cost for my human frailty of addiction saying its an incentive that will help me quit while lining pockets on revenue and giving tax exemption to other groups, corps, and top 1%. Spin to justify regressive shifting the burden.

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