Trump Administration Will Not Prosecute Lois Lerner
This week, the Department of Justice announced that the Trump Administration still has no plans to prosecute Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Unit, who became the face of a public, contentious scandal in 2013.
The announcement surprised and disappointed some Republican lawmakers.
Lerner was accused of influencing her division to target conservative groups (including “Tea Party” groups) for audits of their tax-exempt status applications. She was ultimately called before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where she invoked her fifth amendment rights, and was declared in contempt of Congress.
The case became the focus of national attention, with Republicans declaring Lerner emblematic of Obama efforts to punish political opponents and Democrats insisting the case largely amounted to a witch hunt intended to garner ratings.
Republican lawmakers invested in the case, including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), whose committee investigated the case and referred Lerner for prosecution, and Representative Peter Roskam, both of whom have suggested that, in deciding not to prosecute Lerner, the Department of Justice “was following President Obama’s signal on how he wanted the investigation to be handled.”
As a result, last week’s announcement by the Republican Trump Administration that it would not pursue charges was received as a stinging rebuke.
The statement from the Department of Justice said the agency had “determined that reopening the criminal investigation would not be appropriate based on the available evidence."
Rep. Brady said the decision indicates “the justice system in Washington is deeply flawed,” and Roskam called DOJ’s announcement a “miscarriage of justice” and an injury to democracy.
But the DOJ states that, although “the Department’s investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement at the IRS,” it “had not uncovered evidence of criminal intent by any IRS official,” presumably concluding the four-year-long effort to seek criminal charges in the case.
Posted in From the Hill