A Fox News panel slammed President Barack Obama’s Sunday declaration that there isn’t “a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups, with columnist Charles Krauthammer noting, “If there isn’t a smidgen of corruption, why did [Lois Lerner] take the fifth?”
Krauthammer joined National Journal reporter Rob Fournier and NPR journalist Mara Liasson to discuss a House Ways and Means hearing today, where congressional Republicans took the IRS commissioner to task for refusing to condemn Obama’s comments in the wake of an ongoing investigation. House Republicans have also sent a letter to the Justice Department inquiring whether, given the president’s comments, he might possess an inappropriate level of information about the ongoing IRS and FBI investigations into the targetings.
“Totally inappropriate,” Fournier said of the president’s remarks on Sunday. “The President of the United States should not be ever commenting on an ongoing investigation. That’s not just a policy that I made up, this president and this White House has said it in past cases… If he’s wrong about what he said the other day, it can be more than just a smidgen of trouble for the president.”
Liasson agreed. “That’s why presidents don’t comment on ongoing investigations, except for when they do,” she noted, “because it’s politically really dangerous because they don’t know what the results are going to be!”
Fox host Shannon Bream asked Krauthammer what the chances were of Attorney General Eric Holder answering the Republican query over the president’s comments on the IRS scandal. “Zero,” he said. “He rarely answers, and when he does he gives non-answers and gets away with it.”
“[Obama] knows it was a corrupt deal,” he declared, “which is why he came out on the day, or the day after, the scandal and fired the acting commissioner.”
“But over time,” Krauthammer continued, “with the incredible lack of curiosity of the mainstream media — had this been a Republican abusing the IRS, you can be sure the mainstream media would be all over it — he knows, as in Benghazi, as in all the other scandals, that he can hide, he can play rope-a-dope, he can string it out and over time it becomes old news.”
The conservative columnist ended with an interesting point, after Bream noted that Republican representative Jim Jordan said he believes disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner would soon return to testify before Congress. “Incidentally,” he said, “if there isn’t a smidgen of corruption, why do you think she took the fifth?”
Head of the Exempt Operations Division and the alleged ringleader of the tea party targeting, Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before the House Oversight Committee last year.
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