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Linder Letter: 'Not A Smidgeon,' How Could the President Know?


If the investigation is not finished how could the president know there was no corruption?

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at McGavock High School, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn., about education. President Obama also talked about a fatal shooting involving two students at the school earlier this week. This trip is part of a four-stop tour President Barack Obama is making to expand on themes from his State of the Union address. (AP Photo) AP Photo

In last Sunday’s interview with "Fox News" anchor Bill O’Reilly, President Obama assured us that there was no corruption at all in the IRS.

Not a smidgeon.” He went on to say “these kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them.”

The "Associated Press" took the president’s spin a step further by reporting that the president was confronted with “Republican criticism.” Did they call the questions fired at Gov. Chris Christie during his two-hour press conference regarding the traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge as “Democrat criticism?” Of course not.

Image source: Fox News Image source: Fox News 

President Obama was entirely relaxed in responding to O’Reilly’s questions about the IRS. He knows that, much like the AP, the rest of the media will disregard any concerns about abuse as Republican criticisms. They are pretty busy with more important matters such as bridge closings and Justin Bieber. 

The IRS saga began when Lois Lerner, the head of the Tax Division on Exempt Organizations, spoke to the American Bar Association. She was aware of a report coming out from the IRS Inspector General that would disclose a pattern of harassment of Tea Party groups that were applying for tax-exempt status. She pre-empted the IG report and blamed a few “rogue agents” in Cincinnati. 

Holly Paz was the former director of exempt organizations in Cincinnati. She made it very clear that she was not a “rogue agent” and that her superiors in Washington demanded control of the process on the Tea Party applications. She was placed on paid administrative leave.

Carter Hull worked for the IRS for 48 years and approved the first application from a Tea Party affiliated organization. Lois Lerner overruled his approval and he was ordered to send Tea Party applications through a multi-layer review that included the Chief Counsel’s office. 

Hull disagreed with the new procedure for approval of the applications, which included information on the applicant’s political activity. He was removed from that responsibility and replaced by a woman who had been with the IRS for less than a year. He is now retired.

Lois Lerner (Getty Images) Lois Lerner (Getty Images) 

Chief Counsel William Wilkins was one of only two political appointees in the IRS. Wilkins met with President Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House two days before the new protocol for approval of applicants went into effect. 

In sworn testimony to Congress he used the old “I do not recall” line 80 times. Even when asked if he discussed the protocol with Treasury Department officials and the Inspector General, he did not recall. He is still the Chief Counsel.

We recently learned that the IRS has issued a new proposed rule that would codify the very abuses that have been reported. The planning for this new rule was undertaken in secretThe leader of the new rules change was none other than Lois Lerner.

When Lois Lerner was called to testify before Congress she asserted her right not to incriminate herself under the Fifth Amendment. She was asked by the Treasury Secretary to resign and refused. She went on paid administrative leave for several months and then retired last fall with full benefits.

The acting IRS Commissioner at the time, Steven Miller, was asked to resign by the Secretary of the Treasury.

If there was, as the president said, “not a smidgeon” of corruption, why all of the retirements and resignations? Why the Fifth Amendment? 

[sharequote align="center"]If there was “not a smidgeon” of corruption, why all of the retirements and resignations? [/sharequote]

On January 13 the "Wall Street Journal" reported that the FBI has decided that there would be no indictments. Two weeks later the Department of Justice informed Congress that they couldn’t testify on the matter because the investigation is not finished.  

If the investigation is not finished how could the FBI know that there would be no indictments? How could the president know there was no corruption?

If Chris Christie were president the press would get to the bottom of this. 

John Linder can be contacted at on Twitter @linderje.

Feature Photo Credit: AP Photo

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