May 6
IRS officer Lois Lerner. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)
IRS officer Lois Lerner. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Today, the House Rules Committee is considering a resolution recommending that former IRS official Lois Lerner be held in contempt for refusing to answer questions about her role in the IRS targeting of President Obama’s political opponents.  It is likely that the resolution will pass, and then it will come to the floor for a full vote in the House.  When it does, the vote to hold Lerner in contempt should be bipartisan – if not unanimous.  Any Democrats who vote “no” should be labeled as enablers of obstruction of justice.  It should be impossible for Democrats to defend a vote that could only serve to encourage more corruption and non-cooperation in the future.  Of course Lerner had the right to plead the fifth, but that doesn’t mean Democrats should not pay a price for voting to bless her stonewalling.

In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in February, President Obama pre-empted his own Department of Justice investigation and declared that there was not a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS scandal. Well, I think a senior official at the center of the allegations pleading the fifth constitutes a smidgen. It is not unfair to draw logical inferences from her continued refusal to cooperate with the investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups. To the best of my knowledge, no one in this White House has ever called on Lerner to cooperate.  Why?  Because they know it is not in their interest for her to cooperate. They hope she will continue her silence in comfortable retirement and that Republicans and the media will be intimidated into giving up. Or, at the very least, they hope they can run out the clock on the remainder of Obama’s term.

Meanwhile, at the Justice Department, the White House has built a firewall by appointing Obama donor Barbara Bosserman to head the investigation into the IRS affair. No smidgens here folks. Move along, nothing to see. Please.  Someone in this Administration is guilty of manipulating the IRS – or, is guilty of knowing that the IRS was engaging in activities that targeted the president’s political opponents.  There are smidgens lying all over the place.

The very idea that the administration would protect someone who is hiding behind the fifth when there is not only smoke, but there is actually a clear glow of flames, is insulting.  The 2014 election should be about the economy and Obamacare. We don’t need to keep adding exclamation points to every new Benghazi revelation. But at least the IRS scandal is related to the two election issues that really matter. The whole IRS debacle should be a bottomless pit of outrage, demands, select committees and whatever else from Republicans in Congress.

 

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Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.