The Insiders: Don’t stall Mr. President: It’s time for a special prosecutor.

May 14, 2013

The Washington Post reported late last night that the IRS scandal is getting worse for President Obama. Documents have surfaced that prove IRS officials in Washington were involved in the targeting of conservative groups. The documents also suggest that lies may have been told to Congress.

Armed with this new information, Republicans need to demand an independent counsel, i.e. a special prosecutor, to investigate the political abuses at the Obama IRS.Congress can request independent counsel, but the Department of Justice holds almost complete discretion in granting that request. If President Obama were smart, he would move to outflank this growing crisis and ask his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor almost immediately. No agency can investigate itself, so the IRS’s own inquiry should stand down. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, a political hand, is not credible as an independent force who can oversee a Treasury Department investigation. The Department of Justice should not run this investigation because no conservative would ever believe that any report that has to clear Attorney General Eric Holder’s desk will be thorough and nonpartisan. The targeting of an incumbent president’s political opponents by the incumbent president’s own government is too serious to leave any doubt about what happened and who knew.Maybe it was stupidity. Maybe it was spontaneous, or the work of self-motivated political supporters of the president from within the bureaucracy. Republicans always suspect that careerists in the federal government favor Democrats. But we need to know for certain what transpired, who knew was going on and when they knew it. And, we need to know if there was a cover-up. Republicans are completely justified in demanding a thorough and independent investigation and report. Since Democrats don’t trust Republicans in Congress and vice versa, this case seems to be the perfect example of why we need an independent counsel.

Partisan Democrats and Obama apologists will hope that U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will conduct the primary investigation into this matter. Many Democrats and those within the media will belittle the chairman’s work as partisan, and some may even collaborate with witnesses who want to protect the Obama administration. Equally, all Senate committees have Democratic majorities, so their partisanship will be suspect.

Republicans in Congress should not pretend that they can get to the truth or that the truth will be respected in the current partisan atmosphere in Washington. What’s the case against having an independent special prosecutor? And who do the Democrats think should conduct an investigation if not an independent counsel?

GOP party leaders should immediately start a steady, measured and insistent call for a special prosecutor.

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Jonathan Bernstein | May 13, 2013