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Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen was hired by U.S. affiliate of Russian company

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PkrBum wrote:

You do realize that Lerner and holder were held in contempt?  With holder even becoming the first ag in history to be impeached? Nothing there? Lol... ok dude.  Just because the obfuscation was expertly applied doesn't mean there's nothing underlying it.


It's ancient history, Pkr.  In any case, not having voted even once for Obama, it's not my job to defend his administration.   If Trump/Sessions/Congress have good reason to believe there's something criminal there that was missed in the previous investigations/inquiries, they should go after it.  I would have no problem with that.   But reality is they haven't bothered to.   Ask yourself, why is that?   Is Hillary stopping them?  Eric Holder, Lois Lerner, George Soros?   Or is there some other reason ..... like, there's no "there" there (Ocam's razor) and the only reason the media sycophants of the Republican Party keep dragging those moldy old allegations up is for political propaganda purposes (and to deflect from current events)

And none of it, whether true or not, excuses the events of today & the allegations of misdeeds within the current administration.    Deflection is weak-sauce, 'Pkr'

Last edited by EmeraldGhost on 5/18/2018, 9:47 am; edited 1 time in total

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PkrBum wrote:Did you know that we STILL don't have full disclosure of Obama/Holder gun running to Mexican cartels?

Or irs targeting?


This article first appeared on Dorf on Law.

Do you remember "the IRS scandal"?

If you do, you remember a lie.

Granted, it was an elaborate, innuendo-driven lie that many people repeated endlessly, trying to get you to believe that there was a scandal.

But it was still a lie, and a damaging one at that.

The reason to revisit this issue now is that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a report last week that showed that the supposedly scandalous behavior never happened. In other words, the central lie behind this non-scandal has been definitively undermined.

This is, or at least ought to be, big news. Former President Obama and his supporters should view this as an opportunity to take a victory lap. After more than four years of Republicans' efforts to try to backfill their absurd claims of a big political scandal, the entire story has (again) collapsed.

It is not just big news, but it is also wonderful news. Anyone who cares even a whit about the rule of law should be delighted to know that the supposed abuse of government power that Republicans have been screaming about since May 2013 simply never happened. Unsurprisingly, that is not how Republicans are reacting.

For those who might have blissfully forgotten the details of this particular non-scandal, this all began when an earlier TIGTA report in 2013 addressed an inquiry from Republicans in Congress about whether the IRS was using politicized criteria when reviewing applications for a particular kind of tax-exempt status.

To qualify for that status, an organization cannot engage in political activities. At least, that is what the law says, with the relevant tax code provision ( section 501(c)(4) ) saying that organizations that are "operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare" are eligible for tax-exempt status.

Let us skip over the fact that the Treasury Department has interpreted "exclusively" to mean merely "more than half of the time," which makes it inappropriately easy for politically oriented groups to qualify for this kind of tax exempt status -- a status that, by the way, allows the groups to receive anonymous donations.

What we learned in 2013 is that the unit within the IRS that reviews 501(c)(4) applications had been using the names of organizations as an initial filter to determine who was likely to be engaged in impermissibly pervasive political activity. If a group calls itself "Ohioans United to Defeat Barack Obama's Un-American Agenda," for example, that might be a group that is mostly engaged in political activity.

What would make this a scandal? The IRS had supposedly flagged not just "political sounding" names but names that signaled a conservative orientation, including "tea party," "patriot," "9/12."

Once that news broke, we were off to the races. Despite a complete lack of evidence, Republicans in Congress immediately claimed that this was a political hit job directed from on high in the Obama Administration. Not only was there no evidence to support such claims, but the TIGTA report had made clear that the IRS had already stopped using those filters.

No matter. Republicans knew that they could make hay about this, and the two-sides-to-every-story press would surely write that "Republicans say that the Obama Administration has used the IRS to target its enemies, and although Democrats deny this, an investigation is ongoing."

The only reason that investigations continued, however, was that Republicans insisted on continuing to investigate. Like their obsession with the Benghazi tragedy, which they could never -- even after their own endless series of witch hunts committee inquiries -- turn into a fact-based scandal, Republicans quickly turned "the IRS scandal" into their own echo-chambered conventional wisdom, evidence be damned.

Along the way, people like me would occasionally revisit the story and conclude that there was still no there there. And even people who would typically be sympathetic to the Republicans' hyperventilations were not all on board. For example, a year after the non-scandal broke, Chris Wallace on Fox News chastised a Republican for continuing to pursue the story after finding nothing.

The years dragged on, and the evidence continued not to pile up. But because Republicans have a bottomless well of energy that they use to keep zombie stories alive, they could create news out of non-news simply by continuing to complain about the nonexistent scandal, calling for the impeachment of the IRS Commissioner (who had not even been there during the supposed wrongdoing) and so on.

What is new now? The original claim was that the filters that the IRS's tax-exempt organizations unit had used were biased against right-wing groups. Now, it turns out that even that was not true. In addition to keywords like "tea party," the unit was also looking for words like "occupy," "progressive," and "green energy."

Actually, that information is not new. We have known for years that the IRS was using both left- and right-oriented search terms, but this report provides exhaustive documentation of that fact.

As tax professor Philip Hackney points out, the non-scandal was always a two-part story: (1) the IRS targeted right-wing groups for extra scrutiny, and (2) the Obama Administration had ordered them to do so.

We never had any proof that the second part was true. Indeed, as I argued all along, it would amount to political malpractice for the Obama people to engage in that kind of dirty trick, because it was so pointless. "We're going to win by having the IRS slow down tax-exempt status applications from tiny local Tea Party groups, none of which have enough money to tax in the first place."

Now, we have proof that the first prong of the non-scandal was never true. The IRS did use politically-oriented search terms to try to sort through applicants for inappropriate levels of political activity, but it did not do so on a partisan or ideological basis. And even so, they stopped using those search terms, in an effort to avoid even the appearance of political intent in their reviews.

Will this stop the Republicans? Of course not. A New York Times story quotes the chair of the House's tax-writing committee: "This report reinforces what government watchdogs and congressional investigators have confirmed time and time again: Bureaucrats at the I.R.S. ... arbitrarily and haphazardly administered the tax code and targeted taxpayers based on political ideology."

No, the report says exactly the opposite. The IRS covered the political spectrum, meaning that regardless of a group's apparent political ideology, they might receive added scrutiny in applying for status as a not-excessively-political organization.

And what of the press? A Washington Post news article stated that the new TIGTA report "could undermine claims that conservatives were unfairly targeted under President Barack Obama."

Normally, I would love to make a sarcastic comment about that kind of bizarre understatement, but there is no improving on Steven Benen's take on The Post 's "quite generous" choice of words: "If 'could undermine' is synonymous with 'completely discredits,' then sure."

All of this serves as a helpful reminder that the Trump Administration's blatant dishonesty is only a continuation of a strategy of lying that Republicans have been honing for years.

I recently wrote about "one-sided dishonesty" in American politics. My claim was that Democrats are occasionally dishonest in the old-fashioned political sense, shading the truth and sometimes getting caught, whereas Republicans have applied the principles of mass production to the propagation of lies.

In that column, I noted a term coined by Paul Waldman, "the audacity gap," which he says "makes Republicans the party of 'Yes we can,' while Democrats are the party of 'Maybe we shouldn’t.'" That Republicans are still audaciously claiming that there was an IRS scandal under Obama is one of only many examples.

Indeed, there is an interesting overlap among examples of Democrats' timidity. The new TIGTA report notes that one of the search terms that the IRS used that would pick up left-leaning groups was "acorn." As The Times notes, ACORN is "the acronym for the now defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now."

But the interesting question is why ACORN is now defunct. That group was itself the victim of what turned out to be a non-scandal, in which a right-wing group doctored videos to make it appear that the group was corrupt.

When that story broke, Democrats in Congress and the White House hid under their desks. Even after it became completely clear that the whole affair was a political hit job, Democrats simply allowed funding for ACORN's community organizing activities to be eliminated, and the group died.

Similarly, when the 501(c)(4) story first broke in 2013, the Obama Administration fired the acting IRS commissioner and acted as if something horrible had happened. (Those who remember Obama's baseless firing in 2010 of Shirley Sherrod, the victim of another doctored video, might start to notice a pattern.)

In the meantime, Republicans continue to use the IRS non-scandal as a reason to "punish" the agency with further cuts to its budget. Even if the Republicans cannot get their act together this year to cut taxes for rich people and corporations, they can continue to achieve the same end by making it all but impossible for the IRS to catch tax cheats.

The Republicans will never admit that there was no scandal. The Democrats will never make a concerted effort to educate the public. And the press will continue to say that it is all very complicated and that the two sides disagree.

It is a beautifully closed system, with the only losers being the American people, who need the IRS to be able to continue to do its job.

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a professor of law at George Washington University. He teaches tax law, tax policy, contracts, and law and economics. His research addresses the long-term tax and spending patterns of the federal government, focusing on budget deficits, the national debt, health care costs and Social Security.


Facts Get in the Way of GOP’s Fast and Furious Investigation

A blockbuster piece of investigative reporting has shredded the central claims of Darrell Issa’s investigation.

"...Yet when one digs into the facts of the scandal—and a terrific piece of journalism in Fortune this week is a great help—it becomes clear that Fast and Furious has been blown completely out of proportion by Republican leaders, and a terrible yet all too common tragedy on the United States’ border with Mexico has been fashioned into an ugly political weapon.

Here’s a condensed version of what Republicans say happened. (I will do my very best here to be completely faithful to their telling; feel free to also check out the Fast and Furious page put together by the majority on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has led the charge against Holder).

According to Republicans, in fall 2009 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms began a dangerous effort to stop the flow of guns into Mexico under the auspices of Operation Fast and Furious. The ATF officers used a method of investigation called gun-walking, in which they recruited straw buyers in Arizona to purchase and transmit guns south of the border in order to build a stronger case against the bad guys. Officers logged the purchases and gun serial numbers, applied for wiretaps, but never tried to intercept the weapons.

This allowed drug cartels to obtain potentially hundreds of dangerous weapons under the direct eye of federal authorities, a bad idea that turned tragic in December 2010 when US Border Patrol Brian Terry was murdered by bandits wielding a gun that was walked under Fast and Furious.

So the thrust of the GOP storyline is overzealous gun-grabbers at Obama’s ATF took risks that led directly to the murder of a Border Patrol agent.

But the piece in Fortune, in which reporter Katherine Eban interviewed many of the agents involved for the first time ever, completely demolishes this version of events. (It’s worth a full read).

Eban reveals that the ATF never intentionally walked the guns, save one important exception that we’ll get to momentarily. Instead, they were unable to obtain warrants to arrest the purchasers. Prosecutors were extremely wary of arresting straw buyers, either for fear of retribution from the NRA—who hammered ATF in 2005 for seizing guns from a straw buyer—or because they were gun aficionados themselves. One local prosecutor was reportedly seen behind a table at a gun show and was philosophically opposed to those arrests.

So, unable to arrest the buyers, the agent running Fast and Furious resigned his unit to simply tracking the purchases in hopes of using the evidence later. This is a world away from purposefully letting the guns go, and Eban chronicles numerous efforts by the ATF agents to overcome bureaucratic and legal obstacles and arrest the buyers—they just weren’t able to do it.

The one exception is agent John Dodson, who used $2,500 in taxpayer money to buy six guns from a local dealer, passed them to a trafficker, and then took a long vacation. This is the only proven instance of gun-walking under Fast and Furious—and Dodson, incredibly, was the “brave whistleblower” who exposed the entire operation.

Eban reports that Dodson hated his boss Dave Voth because Voth supposedly “treated him like shit.” Dodson disobeyed a direct order from Voth not to walk guns in this manner—and then, a few months later, went to CBS News with allegations that the ATF “ordered” him to walk guns and that in fact it was a common practice there.

CBS News never fully checked out his story, and never talked to Voth—and still hasn’t retracted the piece. Yet neither Dodson nor anyone else has ever proven there were orders to perform gun-walking, nor proven any other episode other that Dodson’s own. (Voth was deeply shocked by Dodson’s actions—a “blow he couldn’t fathom,” according to Eban, who added that he began losing weight and sleep. “There would be no way,” Voth is quoted as saying, “to foreshadow this.”)

What made things worse for the administration—and what made it a target of the House investigation—is that after saying there was no gun-walking at ATF, it flipped, admitted there was, and apologized..."


And before you go all Benghazi:

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Let's not forget that in an attempt to get out in front of the ig report that Lerner set the question up.

In response to a question about the IRS’s handling of Tea Party exemption applications, asked at the May 10 meeting of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association, Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations office, made the following response:
“We get about 60,000 applications for tax exemption every year, most of them are 501(c)(3) organizations. But between 2010 and 2012 we started seeing a very big uptick in the number of 501(c)(4) applications we were receiving and many of these organizations applying more than doubled, about 1500 in 2010 and over 3400 in 2012. So we saw a big increase in these kind of applications, many of which indicated that they were going to be involved in advocacy work.
So our line people in Cincinnati who handled the applications did what we call centralization of these cases. They centralized work on these in one particular group. They do that for efficiency and consistency — something we do whenever we see an uptick in a new kind of application or something we haven’t seen before. Folks might remember from back a few years ago we had credit counseling organizations and we centralized those cases. We had mortgage foreclosure cases and we centralized those cases. We do it for consistency So they went ahead and did that. How they do centralization is they have a list in their office that they give out to folks who are screening cases that says if it is one of these kind of cases and it can’t be screened it needs to go to group X. So centralization was perfectly fine.
However, in these cases, the way they did the centralization was not so fine. Instead of referring to the cases as advocacy cases, they actually used case names on this list. They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate — that’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review. We don’t select for review because they have a particular name.
The other thing that happened was they also, in some cases, cases sat around for a while. They also sent some letters out that were far too broad, asking questions of these organizations that weren’t really necessary for the type of application. In some cases you probably read that they asked for contributor names. That’s not appropriate, not usual, there are some very limited times when we might need that but in most of these cases where they were asked they didn’t do it correctly and they didn’t do it with a higher level of review. As I said, some of them sat around for too long.
What have we done to take care of this? Oh, let me back up. They didn’t do this because of any political bias. They did it because they were working together. This was a streamlined way for them to refer to the cases. They didn’t have the appropriate level of sensitivity about how this might appear to others and it was just wrong. So when we found out about it we did a couple of things. First, we said that list that goes around for centralizing cases any changes on that list have to be reviewed and approved at the Director of Rulings & Agreements level so line staff can no longer change or add to that list without calling us to look at it.
We also went back and looked at questions that had been sent out to folks because some of them were extensive and where the questions weren’t necessary we gave the organizations flexibility as to which questions they needed to answer and gave them more time to answer them. In some cases we told them to just ignore the letter we already sent and sent a new list of questions. In some cases we said we don’t need those questions answered. We can deal with your application without responses to those questions. We also sorted the cases to try and figure out which cases needed a further look and which cases could be handled through almost a screening process. We might need a litle bit more information.
The problem in the (c)(4) area is that the kind of activity the organizations were doing is okay for (c)(4)s but it can’t be their primary activity. So that weighing and balancing is a little different than when we have a (c)(3) that says you can’t do any political activity. That’s a pretty easy question. So I guess my bottom line here is that we at the IRS should apologize for that, it was not intentional, and as soon as we found out what was going on, we took steps to make it better and I don’t expect that to reoccur.
As long as we are on the topic of potential political activity, it’s a good time to remind all of you as you are looking at filing for 2012 there was a lot of political activity in organizations this past year and so we’ll be looking at the 527(f) tax, as we see the 2012 990s coming in, so make sure that your clients are appropriately computing the 527(f) tax.

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PkrBum wrote:Let's not forget that in an attempt to get out in front of the ig report that Lerner set the question up.  ....

May as well be complaining about the Galphin Affair for all it has to do with current events   Rolling Eyes

(disclaimer: I didn't vote for Zachary Taylor either Laughing )

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Again... these are all scandals that they didn't give a shit about because they were under a dem.

We'll never get better from govt unless we demand it everytime... no exceptions or exclusions.

The right thing is happening in this presidency. Investigate... compel... subpoena... grand jury... etc.

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Tribute to a Bob.

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PkrBum wrote:Again... these are all scandals that they didn't give a shit about because they were under a dem.

We'll never get better from govt unless we demand it everytime... no exceptions or exclusions.

The right thing is happening in this presidency. Investigate... compel... subpoena... grand jury... etc.

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