Is the IRS using a 'modified limited hang-out' strategy?
Two startling disclosures raise questions about the IRS strategy in handling the scandal over its singling out opponents of President Obama for extra scrutiny and obstruction of in granting tax-exempt status.
Disclosure number one (from the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire):
A former Internal Revenue Service official who declined to answer questions at a congressional hearing, citing the Fifth Amendment, gave a full interview to the Justice Department, her lawyer said.
That’s raising questions among Republican lawmakers, who wonder whether her choice to talk to Justice reflects a lack of concern about the DOJ probe. They also question the propriety of letting her avoid questions by lawmakers when she is answering DOJ’s.
The comments by Lois Lerner‘s attorney “cast further doubt on the seriousness of the Justice Department’s so-called investigation of IRS targeting, as well as the legal basis of Ms. Lerner’s refusal to testify before Congress,” said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for committee Republicans. “There is a clear contradiction between refusing to testify based on a supposed fear of prosecution and talking to the prosecutors.”
The Justice Department declined to comment.
In a press conference Wednesday, lawyer William Taylor III said Ms. Lerner had given a lengthy interview to Justice Department prosecutors within the last six months, as part of the agency’s investigation into IRS targeting of conservative tea-party groups for burdensome special scrutiny as they sought tax-exempt status.
Some legal experts said it can be risky to expose a client to Justice Department interviews without a grant of immunity. Ms. Lerner’s lawyers said she got no immunity from DOJ.
So far, the Justice Department investigation has not even bothered to interview most of the victims of IRS harassment, raising legitimate suspicions that a cover-up phony investigation is underway. If this scenario is correct, the DoJ would issue a report that nothing was wrong, cite its interviews, and declare the case closed.
Disclosure number two (via the Washington Times):
The announcement comes after months of jockeying between House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp and the IRS, which had said it was wading through hundreds of thousands of documents requested by House Republicans in their investigation into the targeting.
Note two things: it is no clear if this is a complete disclosure of the requested documents or merely cherry-picked innocuous documents. And, the documents have been not released to Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee, but Dave Camp’s Ways and Means. This may well be a strategy to provoke Issa, who handed Democrats and Rep. Elijah Cummings a victory of sorts this week, when he cut off Cummings after Lois Lerner took the Fifth. Having demonstrated his vulnerabilities, the Dems may be carrying out psy-ops.
For those who did not live through the Watergate scandal, a limited hangout is:
“….a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details.
It takes the form of deception, misdirection, or coverup often associated with intelligence agencies involving a release or "mea culpa" type of confession of only part of a set of previously hidden sensitive information, that establishes credibility for the one releasing the information who by the very act of confession appears to be "coming clean" and acting with integrity; but in actuality, by withholding key facts, is protecting a deeper operation and those who could be exposed if the whole truth came out. In effect, if an array of offenses or misdeeds is suspected, this confession admits to a lesser offense while covering up the greater ones.”
Update: The UK Daily Mail says ALL documents have been released, BUT:
'If there's not a Holy Grail email in this round of documents,' a senior staffer to a Ways and Means committee member told MailOnline, 'then we're not going to find it.'
'Whether that's because Lerner covered her tracks or because the IRS is shredding documents, we're probably never going to know.'