Newly obtained emails show that former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner discussed with the Justice Department the possibility of criminal prosecutions for tea party-affiliated non-profit groups. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton says those emails put an end to the notion that Lerner engaged in criminal behavior on her own volition.
"It really shows you that there was this big effort under way to go after these tea party groups because that's the issue that was there, it was all about the political activity of the tea party groups," Fitton said on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, which obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request, said the communications records show elected Democrats and officials in the Justice Department pressured the IRS to scrutinize, and potentially prosecute, conservative-leaning non-profit groups that didn't fully disclose their political activities. The time has come, he added, for an external investigation.
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"It's not just an IRS scandal now; it's a Justice Department scandal," he said. "The Justice Department has implicated and conflicted from investigating this and we need an independent investigator outside the normal chain of command of the Justice Department."
Fitton said the emails don't necessarily indicate that Attorney General Eric Holder was involved, but investigators should certainly follow leads in the case up the food chain.
"Not yet, but [an attorney implicated in the emails] is not a junior attorney at the Department of Justice and you can bet once you-know-what hit the fan, I'd be curious to know what was going on in the Justice Department about their efforts and what the efforts were to respond to this Democratic senator's encouragement to prosecute the president's political enemies," he said.
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