In light of the Friday announcement that the IRS has lost an “untold” number of e-mails from Lois Lerner and six other IRS employees, it is safe to assume Lerner interrupted her taxpayer-funded retirement to hop on a cocktail table somewhere and do a fistpump.  And you can bet there were high-fives at the Justice Department and thinly disguised giggles and thumbs-up at the White House.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

The audacity of this takes stonewalling to a whole new level. It used to be that if you wanted to “stonewall,” you would just keep quiet. But this administration’s cronies will plead the fifth, conveniently not find evidence, drag their feet, shrug, cry partisanship and expect people to just get over it.

So far, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has taken point in the investigation. Issa announced yesterday that he has issued a subpoena for the hard drive that the IRS claims irreparably crashed. He also subpoenaed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who will now face questioning from the House oversight committee next week. I don’t want to prejudge Koskinen’s testimony, but I have a feeling it is safe to assume he won’t know answers to many of the questions he is asked, won’t recall any specific details and, as much as he wants to “cooperate,” won’t be able to answer technical questions about Lerner’s hard drive.

The corrosive effect of this diminishes America’s legal authority and makes for bad politics for the Democrats in November. How can the Democrats defend these “lost” e-mails? Who in a competitive 2014 race can keep a straight face and say they believe this president’s claims? If I were a Democrat, I would take Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) good advice and support a special prosecutor.  It is the only way for Democrats to put distance between themselves and this grotesque violation of the public trust.

The need for a special prosecutor is obvious on many fronts. After all, the key witness has pled the Fifth. House oversight committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) declared “the case is solved and if it were up to me, I would wrap this case up and move on.” And we can’t forget the president’s definitive, premature pronouncement that there was not a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS scandal. (Sidenote to the White House press corps: Someone should ask how exactly the president defines “smidgen.”) Maybe this “missing” evidence will be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Democrats.

They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Well, this is more than just a little smoke – Washington is choking on it. Democrats should want the political cover of supporting the appointment of a special prosecutor. They will need protection from the guffaws, disgust and outright retribution that will follow this scandal to the ballot box in November.

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