Cleta Mitchell: Justice Department Akin to 'Godfather' in IRS Case

Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 11:56 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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The Justice Department will protect former IRS official Lois Lerner, as long as she keeps her mouth shut about the agency’s practice of targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, Washington D.C.-based lawyer Cleta Mitchell told Newsmax TV.

"Just think "The Godfather," think about the movie," she told J.D. Hayworth on America's Forum. "That's exactly what's going on here."

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"The Justice Department is going to protect her as long as she doesn't say or do anything that incriminates the White House or anyone in the White House or anyone on behalf of the White House. Now if she starts talking, all bets are off and then the Justice Department will come after her."

Mitchell noted that Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley —  who Lerner suggested targeting two years ago —  is a former ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, which provides oversight to the IRS. Mitchell said that as chairman of that committee, "Grassley was very intent upon making sure that exempt organizations, organizations with tax-exempt status, were operating within the law."

The House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday released emails from 2012 in which Lerner, who was in charge of the IRS department that reviewed applications from organizations seeking tax-exempt status, recommended that Grassley be audited because an unnamed organization paying Grassley to speak was also going to pay for his wife to attend the same conference.

Lerner learned of this when the group, which was also inviting Lerner to speak, accidentally switched the invitations and Lerner received Grassley’s. She immediately fired off an email to Matthew Guiliano, legal counsel at the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the IRS, suggesting Grassley be audited because the organization "inappropriately offered to pay" for Grassley’s wife, who is a lobbyist.

Guiliano responded that the offer to pay for Mrs. Grassley was not prohibited by law (it would be considered income to Grassley) and disagreed with the audit suggestion made by Lerner.

It’s telling, Mitchell said, that Lerner’s "underling" had to tell his boss that it was out of bounds for her to recommend an audit of Grassley.

When asked by Hayworth about Lerner’s desire to score a position on President Obama’s re-election campaign. Mitchell pointed out that "Lois Lerner's husband held fundraisers for Obama when he was running for president. Her politics are pretty clearly left leaning and Democratic."

Congress and the White House clearly had a hand in the subterfuge taking place at the IRS, according to Mitchell.

"There is a chronology of all the things that the Democrats have done in the Senate and the House and the White House, the things that they were doing publicly and privately to demand that the IRS silence organizations that disagreed with the president," Mitchell said, referencing the House Oversight Committee website containing copies of emails and other documents. "That's what it boiled down to. People who were concerned about the growth of government and these people were saying to the IRS, shut them down to make them be quiet."

Republicans have pointed to Lerner’s 2012 email as proof that she targeted a sitting U.S. senator, "calling it proof of bias," according to Politico.

Republicans have called for a special prosecutor following Lerner’s decision to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify about the scandal as well as the recent claim by the IRS that two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails have been lost in a computer crash. A slew of technical experts have questioned the government’s assertion that the emails are unrecoverable.

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