“Smith asked whether they could charge the groups with conspiracy to violate U.S. laws.”
What are the bona fides of the special counsel appointed to go after Trump? The ones you expect.
via J.E. Dyer.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced today the appointment of former career Justice Department prosecutor and former chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague, Jack Smith, to serve as Special Counsel to oversee two ongoing criminal investigations.
“Based on recent developments, including the former President’s announcement that he is a candidate for President in the next election, and the sitting President’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” said Attorney General Garland. “Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”
A special counsel was long overdue, but there was no way Garland was going to pick anyone except a loyal soldier to go after conservatives.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently obtained an email addressed to former IRS official Lois Lerner sent from Election Crimes Branch Director Richard Pilger at the Justice Department. The email addressed to Lerner stated that, “I have been asked to run something by you.” During the Committee’s investigation, Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith told investigators that officials at the Justice Department discussed targeting conservative nonprofit groups with Lerner as early as October 2010.
Pilger says that Smith asked him to arrange a meeting with Lerner. Pilger further stated that the agenda for the meeting was to discuss how the IRS could be, “more vigilant to the opportunities from more crime in the . . . 501(c)(4) area.”
In their letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Committee said, “The Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits. This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.”
Public integrity indeed.
Who better to pick to go after conservatives than a guy with a track record of doing just that.
What we tend to forget is that the IRS scandal was much worse than the popular understanding of it. Beyond an attempt to block and shut down conservative nonprofits, it had roots in the DOJ and the FBI. It wasn’t just about denying tax-exempt status, but actively criminalizing and prosecuting political dissent.
In October of 2010, apparently without a court order, the IRS sent 21 computer disks containing 1.1 million pages of tax-return documents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the Justice Department, the massive data dump included public returns from non-profit groups but also taxpayer information that by law the IRS is required to keep confidential. Reps. Issa and Jordan ask in their letter for information relating to the preparation and transmittal of the data.
How did these documents wind up at the FBI? In September of 2010, IRS officials including Lois Lerner and Sarah Hall Ingram helped the New York Times prepare a story about non-profit policy groups which “heavily favored Republicans” in their purchases of issue advertising.
The day after the article appeared, Justice Department Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith noted the story in an email to colleagues and asked whether they could charge the groups with conspiracy to violate U.S. laws.
That’s where this is at.
Why is this happening? Because Smith still had his job after all this. And no good deed will go unforgiven.