Before the Super Bowl yesterday, President Obama sat down to an interview with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. The interview covered a wide range of topics, moving through each rather speedily, but at the end when O'Reilly honed in on the alleged political corruption at the IRS, the President's response was remarkable [emphases added]:
The president... refused to acknowledge that the IRS illegally targeted tea party groups in the run-up to the 2012 election. "Absolutely wrong," he said when O'Reilly broached the subject. "These kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part, because you and your TV station will promote them… We've had multiple hearings on it!"
"So you're saying there was no corruption there at all?" O'Reilly asked.
"Absolutely not," the president replied. "There were some bone-headed decisions out of a local office."
"But no mass corruption?" O'Reilly persisted.
"Not even mass corruption," a visibly-annoyed Obama replied. "Not even a smidgen of corruption."
The President's touting of "multiple hearings" that have been held on the subject is simply a tactic of evasion. What those hearings have concluded is, at best, debatable. And to say that the issue keeps surfacing because of Fox News keeps bringing it up is an even more brazen attempt to evade the real issue: it was brought up at least two times just last week by two members of Congress.
The first was Senator Ted Cruz, who asked about the matter to Attorney General Eric Holder during a Senate hearing on the DOJ:
"In the 280 days since that inspector general report, nobody has been indicted," Cruz said. "Not a single person. In the 280 days since that inspector general report, it’s been publicly reported that no indictments are planned. Today in this hearing, you were unwilling to answer a question whether even a single victim of targeting has been interviewed."
And Holder's replies, stating that, "This is a matter that is presently being investigated, interviews are being done, analysis is being conducted," indicates that the President's determination that there was "not even a smidgen of corruption" are, if nothing else, at least premature!
The second instance was a floor speech by Senator Mitch McConnell, parts of which the Senator included in an op-ed piece for Brietbart published the same day. Referring to proposed new rules regulating the activity of 501(c)4 organizations - rules which many critics fear will stifle free speech and political participation - McConnell had this to say:
For some, it may be hard to imagine that the Obama administration would even think of touching an issue this radioactive after last year’s scandal stunned the nation. They underestimate the extent to which this administration and its allies are willing to go to shut down — and shut up — their ideological opponents.
They also underestimate the extent to which these folks are willing to go to hold onto power, and they forget how speech is usually stifled. As Madison knew, most encroachments on free speech and other constitutionally-protected freedoms are backdoor efforts like this one.
Suffice to say, therefore, that not everyone is convinced that the President's finding of "not even a smidgen of corruption" at the IRS is going to hold up very much longer. We're grateful to these brave members of Congress and others who continue working to get to the bottom of these matters and to hold accountable those and the IRS and elsewhere who abused power for political purposes.