Brookings Institute's Taylor: Special Prosecutor Isn't Needed in IRS Scandal

Thursday, 30 May 2013 06:42 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A special prosecutor isn't needed in the growing IRS scandal because Congress can get to the bottom of the controversy faster, says Stuart Taylor, Jr., a Brookings Institute Senior Fellow and Contributing Editor at the National Journal.

"A Congressional investigation is out in the open [and] the public finds out more about what happened sooner rather than later," Taylor told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"A special prosecutor has a lot of problems. One, is it all in secret. Two, it kind of shuts down the Congressional investigation. Three, there may have been all kinds of malfeasance in office that is not criminal."

Taylor said the nation has had a history of special prosecutors investigating presidents of both parties and "something about the nature of that assignment tends to bring out the overzealousness in that person.''

He cited Kenneth Starr, who probed the Whitewater real estate investments of President Bill Clinton and the affair he had with Monica Lewinsky, which led to an impeachment and five-year suspension of Clinton's law license.

"Ken Starr is a friend of mine, I admire him — that happened to him. It happened to Lawrence Walsh investigating the previous Republican administration," Taylor said.

"So unless and until there's some reason to think that there's a criminal matter that we should entrust the Justice Department with leading two Congressional investigations and hopefully media exposure is the best move."

Taylor said he would not yet compare the scandals that have hit the Obama Administration — the IRS' targeting of conservatives, the Justice Department's scrutiny of reporters, and the Benghazi terror attack — to Watergate.

"I'm not quite at a Nixonian stage. The Benghazi scandal is more about what happened after the deaths [of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans] than before. It's hard protecting diplomats and they probably didn't do it all right," he told Steve Malzberg.

"The real question here is whether it amassed to an organized campaign to falsify the record about what happened. And I'm not quite expert enough to have a strong opinion on that."

He said in the case of the Justice Department's secret subpoenas of Associated Press journalists and the labeling of Fox reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator for obtaining classified information, "the media have a little bit of a tendency to scream bloody murder when the government does to them what it does to everyone else."

As well, Taylor said in the IRS scandal, "I'm not at all sure we're going to find the White House knew . . . But in a way . . . it's pretty bad if it didn't.

"If what you have is a bunch of bureaucrats who tend to be Democratic-leaning, left-leaning members of public-employee unions, not particularly friendly to the Republicans — and if their own best first instinct is … saying, let's really put the screws to the Tea Party groups — that's [more] disturbing in itself than if the administration is not in on it."

Taylor admitted he is concerned about the new revelation that White House logs show 157 visits from the former IRS Commissioner Donald Shulman.

"That's obviously troubling, warrants intense investigation and his . . . saying he took his kid to the Easter Egg Roll is almost contemptuous," Taylor said.

"He needs to be put on the stand . . . It's hard to think of a very good reason why the head of the IRS would be hanging out at the White House so much."

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