It's July, and the summer before the One that Counts. That means it's also time to gin up some scandals, because Fox News and the right wing noise machine need grist for their mill and distractions to avoid real issues.
This week's effort comes to us via Katie Pavlich at TownHall.com and her messaging pal Tom Fitton at Judicial Watch. Once again, we arrive at the first stop -- a new installment in the IRS "scandal," mostly because it is imperative that the pressure stay on the IRS to back away slowly from any scrutiny whatsoever of those non-profit organizations funding the message machine. No disclosure is great for them. For the rest of us, not so much.
In her column today, Pavlich informs us all that Judicial Watch has obtained new documents showing that the IRS gave away the entire unredacted database of 2010 nonprofit filings to the FBI.
The IRS likely violated federal law by illegally sharing 1.25 million pages of taxpayer information with DOJ, which were contained on nearly two dozen FBI backup tapes. Further, information shows DOJ wanted IRS officials who were scheduled to testify in front of Congress about the targeting scandal to turn over planned remarks to them first before delivering on Capitol Hill.
Interesting, that. Here is the text of the DOJ request, via screen capture of the email, which does not suggest that the FBI asked for any information they were not entitled to receive. Key in on the phrase "properly available data."
Bottom line: Records were turned over in 2010 in connection with a Department of Justice investigation. It is also not news. We had this breathless revelation last year. It wasn't news then and it isn't news now. By the way, the FBI gave it back without using it.
Today's news is about a new email dump which basically tells us nothing.
Context is everything
In July, 2013 the right-wing press frenzy was in full swing. Every day supposed "revelations" were rolling out -- revelations that had lots of sexy headlines but very little substance. We heard tiny whispers about how Occupy groups were targeted and big booming declarations that the IRS was about to get payback in the form of budget cuts.
At the same time, some facts emerged, indicating that it really wasn't the scandal it had been cracked up to be.
Underneath all the sound and fury, the DOJ was conducting its own investigation of the IRS. That meant the FBI needed IRS records in order to actually do its job, and there was a lot of pressure coming down from the right wing to make sure they did.
Therefore, the FBI requested and received copies of information they needed to investigate the question of whether the IRS did or did not improperly target right wing organizations.
The correspondence released today concerns those requests for information and interviews of IRS employees.
Fitton and Pavlich are instead coordinating their message to mislead readers into believing the IRS and DOJ were conspiring to prosecute a right wing organization, because if there isn't a scandal, it's imperative to create one.
What those emails really prove
The emails prove that at least two IRS employees were being questioned with regard to their roles at the IRS and the exempt organizations division.
The emails prove there was no conspiracy whatsoever, in direct conflict with what Pavlich and Fitton contend. In fact, at least one of them indicated that the DOJ and IRS were not cooperating with one another, particularly in the areas of document production.
In 2013, no documents were produced until a trial attorney from the Public Integrity section of the DOJ gave the green light for the IRS to produce them, which is hardly the picture Pavlich paints.
What's three years between friends?
Watch the sleight of hand here.
“These new documents show that the Obama IRS scandal is also an Obama DOJ and FBI scandal,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The FBI and Justice Department worked with Lois Lerner and the IRS to concoct some reason to put President Obama’s opponents in jail before his reelection. And this abuse resulted in the FBI’s illegally obtaining confidential taxpayer information. How can the Justice Department and FBI investigate the very scandal in which they are implicated?”
We have a packet of correspondence, most of which is from 2013 concerning the disgorgement of certain emails and filing databases for nonprofit organizations. Said correspondence is between the FBI and the IRS, with lawyers in between both agencies.
The bulk of the correspondence released today is between the IRS and DOJ in 2013, specifically concerning the possibility of DOJ prosecution of the IRS. They took one 2010 document out of the packet and twisted the investigator and investigated in order to fit their narrative. They stretched the dates all the way to 2013, when no one is cooperating with anyone else because of the sound and fury created by the right wing echo chamber with some help and coordination with right-wing message machines like Judicial Watch.
By the way, even Judicial Watch was forced to admit that Lerner ruled out the idea of prosecuting one of these organizations for lying on their application almost as quickly as she raised it. But that hasn't stopped them from claiming that it was a big Obama administration plot to undo his political enemies ahead of his re-election.
You'd think such a conspiracy would actually have exposed all those organizations that bought the 2010 election and spent nearly a billion dollars in 2012. But nothing of the sort happened.
Pavlich closes her column with a snarky reference to the White House suppressing all that free Constitutionally protected speech that wasn't suppressed.
She appears to intentionally misunderstand the difference between "free speech" and disclosure of the speaker. No one -- not even the IRS -- denied the right of these organizations to exist and participate in the political process. Lerner's concern was purely a tax consideration -- should organizations that are created to shield donors from disclosure be considered tax-exempt organizations under the tax code? And in some cases, should the money they spend on political endeavors be taxed under the rules for those organizations?
These are the questions that really matter, but it's unlikely we'll ever get answers, thanks to the noise machine and a lazy media that doesn't want to actually look past the smoke and mirrors put up to manufacture scandal where none exists.