During his three decades as president (which is how long it sometimes seems), Barack Obama has emphasized repeatedly his dedication to the ideals of fairness and justice for all. Numerous actions by him and his cabinet appointees have made a mockery of those claims, but none as resoundingly as his Justice Department announcing today in a letter to Congress that it is closing out its two-year probe into whether the IRS improperly targeted the tea party and other conservative groups.
The letter went on to note that no charges will be brought against former IRS official Lois Lerner or anyone else at the agency.
The letter, drafted by Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik, revealed that the investigation uncovered “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime.”
We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution. We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges.
Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee and one of the most nakedly political figures in D.C., said in a statement:
Today, the Justice Department confirmed the same conclusions we had years ago. Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes — IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi — with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity.
Former House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) jad a slightly different take, writing in a statement of his own:
The Justice Department’s decision to close the IRS targeting investigation without a single charge or prosecution is a low point of accountability in an administration that is better known for punishing whistleblowers than the abuse and misconduct they expose. After stating that their investigation confirms that tea party and conservative groups were improperly targeted, they dismiss it merely as a byproduct of gross mismanagement and incompetence — ignoring volumes of evidence in the public record and efforts to obstruct legitimate inquires.
With its decision, Justice closes the book on whether the IRS’s clearly partisan behavior was ordered in whole or in part by the Obama White House and whether its actions played a part in winning Obama a second term.