IRS clams up, NY Times blames Republicans

Let’s face it.

There’s no way to make someone taking the Fifth Amendment look good.

But you can at least make the other side look bad.

That’s what a top New York Times editor tried to do Wednesday afternoon when he explained IRS official Lois Lerner’s invoking the right to remain silent before a House committee. Lerner declined to answer questions about why IRS agents under her supervision targeted conservative groups for heightened screening during the run-up to last fall’s election.

loislernerLerner was acting on legal counsel, but it was the Republicans who made her do it, wrote David Firestone, projects editor for the Times editorial page.

Firestone says it’s “not surprising” Lerner took her attorney’s advice. Republicans, he says, “would rather see heads on spikes than get to the bottom of the problem.”

So, Lerner couldn’t testify, clear everything up, and start us all on a journey to happier days and a clearer tax code. If she said a word, she’d just be helping lay the groundwork for a criminal case Republicans are set on, according to Firestone.

“There is not the slightest evidence that anyone in the IRS who examined tax-exempt applications committed criminal acts,” Firestone writes.

Not the slightest. And if everyone keeps their mouth shut, maybe there won’t be.

“She could have explained why, after she told her employees to cut it out, they resumed and expanded the practice, and were allowed to do so for months. Chances are that she would have added to the growing picture of gross ignorance, confusion and incompetence in the Cincinnati office, exacerbated by hands-off management in her own shop.”

Sure, she could have explained that.

“And chances are that her testimony would have made it clearer that there was no criminal conspiracy, either at the White House or in the upper reaches of the tax agency, to deprive any group of its constitutional rights.”

Yep. That’s just what the chances are.

There’s no chance at all her testimony might have made clear that there was a tacit agreement in the administration that the IRS should be on the lookout for groups with dangerous names like “Tea Party,” and “9/12,” or those with the dangerous mission of fostering understanding and appreciation for the Constitution.

There’s no chance at all that Lerner’s testimony would paint the effort for exactly what it was: a way to shut down groups working against the president’s re-election in a tight state.

There’s no chance she would have revealed that the White House or IRS higher-ups wanted to deprive any group of its constitutional rights.

No chance at all.

That’s why Lerner didn’t testify. There was absolutely nothing to hide

Let’s face it. You can’t make taking the Fifth look good.


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