Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes.”— James Madison, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1788.
There have been more revelations in the IRS AP, and Benghazi scandals.
Rosen wasn’t the only Fox News employee to come under intense DOJ scrutiny.
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly said Monday that Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse and DOJ and national-security senior producer Mike Levine were also targeted by President Obama’s Justice Department. This is a developing story.
According to the AP White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and other senior presidential advisers knew in late April that an upcoming IG report was likely to find that IRS employees had inappropriately targeted conservative political groups.
That disclosure on Monday expanded the known circle of top officials who were aware of the audit beyond those identified earlier by the White House.
The White House says McDonough and the other advisers did not tell President Barack Obama about the impending report, leaving him to learn the results from news reports later.
The White House defended the decision to keep the president in the dark, with press secretary Jay Carney saying Obama was comfortable with the fact that "some matters are not appropriate to convey to him, and this is one of them." In the parlance of Potomac-speak this is plausible deniability.
The outgoing IRS commissioner expressed regret today for a decision to use a planted question to go public with the agency's practice of targeting conservative groups, calling the move "an incredibly bad idea."
Steven Miller, appearing on the Hill for a second hearing in two weeks on the scandal, acknowledged that the agency was trying to get ahead of a damning investigative report at the time. As was confirmed over the weekend, he admitted the agency had a question planted at a conference two Fridays ago — a senior IRS official, in response to the question, then confessed to a long-running program that singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny.
"Obviously the entire thing was an incredibly bad idea," Miller said.
Fox News reported:
“Miller explained that the agency had been trying to brief lawmakers on the Hill, in advance of the release of the inspector general report. But that "did not work out," he said, so they used the planted question.
"The report was coming, we knew that," he told the Senate Finance Committee.
The issue raised more questions for lawmakers about the way in which the agency addressed public concerns about the screening program. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, criticized the IRS for using the planted question to come forward, suggesting it compounded the problems with the agency's response.
In a tense round of questioning, Hatch also asked why neither Miller nor former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman acknowledged the program before -- Congress had been asking about the allegations since 2012.
Shulman claimed he did not have a "full set of facts," but said he was aware in the spring of 2012 there was an internal list that included the term "Tea Party." That list was used as the basis for singling out some groups applying for tax-exempt status. Shulman also said he did not know how the controversial program started, adding that lower-level officials "should have run up the chain" their knowledge about the program earlier.
"You should have corrected the record, and you should have done it long before today," Hatch said.
He also accused Miller of lying when he didn't acknowledge the program in letters to Congress last year, despite being aware of it.
"That's a lie by omission, there's no question about that in my mind," Hatch said. “
“The hearing comes after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the president's counsel was told on April 24 about the preliminary findings of an IRS audit that showed tax officials unfairly targeted Tea Party groups. Senior legal counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was told about the audit on April 24, Carney said Monday. She then told Denis McDonough, Obama's chief of staff and other senior officials about the investigation.
"It was the judgment of counsel this is not a matter she should convey to the president," Carney said.
Carney also said while Ruemmler knew the subject of the investigation and potential findings, they were not given a draft of the report and understood details could change.
Ahead of the hearing, Baucus and Hatch sent a letter to the IRS Monday, asking for an explanation. The letter included 41 separate requests for information. They gave the IRS until May 31 to respond.
The two senators said the IRS had not been forthcoming about the issue in the past.”
It was just learned today that, According to ABC News, Lois Lerner, the top IRS official who is at the center of the controversy for the targeting of tea party and other conservative groups, will refuse to answer questions at a congressional hearing Wednesday and invoke her Fifth Amendment rights, ABC News has learned.
She is set to appear before the House Oversight Committee. Congressional aides said today that they received a notice from Lerner’s lawyers that she would not answer their questions because it is now part of a criminal investigation.
A mid-level State Department official sidelined in the aftermath of the Benghazi terror attack is speaking out, publicly accusing his bosses of scapegoating him for the security lapses in eastern Libya.
Raymond Maxwell, who was deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, told The Daily Beast he had "no involvement" with decisions on security at the vulnerable diplomatic outpost but was placed on administrative leave anyway along with a few other officials.
He claims he was given little explanation and no opportunity to appeal the status since he wasn't technically fired.
"They just wanted me to go away but I wouldn't just go away," Maxwell said. "I knew (former U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens). Chris was a friend of mine."
According to the Daily Beast report:
“The decision to place Maxwell on administrative leave was made by Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, according to three State Department officials with direct knowledge of the events. On the day after the unclassified version of the ARB’s report was released in December, Mills called Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones and directed her to have Maxwell leave his job immediately.
"Cheryl Mills directed me to remove you immediately from the [deputy assistant secretary] position," Jones told Maxwell, according to Maxwell.
The decision to remove Maxwell and not Jones seems to conflict with the finding of the ARB that responsibility for the security failures leading up to the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi should fall on more senior officials.
“We fixed [the responsibility] at the assistant-secretary level, which is in our view the appropriate place to look, where the decision making in fact takes place, where, if you like, the rubber hits the road," Pickering said when releasing the ARB report. (to see Pickering’s comments at Foreign Policy you may have to sign-up for an account. It’s free and worth it)
The report found “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department,” namely the Diplomatic Security (DS) and Near East bureaus. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns testified in December that requests for more security in Libya, denied by the State Department, did reach the assistant secretaries, and “it may be that some of my colleagues on the seventh floor saw them as well."
But Jones was not disciplined in any way following the release of the report, nor was the principal deputy assistant secretary of State at NEA, Liz Dibble, who is slated to receive a plush post as the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in London this summer. In the DS bureau, the assistant secretary, the principal deputy, and the deputy assistant all lost their jobs. In the NEA bureau, only Maxwell was asked to leave.
Jones and Dibble were responsible for security in Libya, Maxwell and three State Department officials said. What’s more, when Maxwell was promoted to his DAS position in August 2011, most responsibility for Libya was carved out of his portfolio, which also included Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Although Maxwell did some work on Libya, all security-related decisions were handled by Dibble and Jones, according to the three officials.
One State Department official close to the issue told The Daily Beast that Clinton’s people told the leadership of the NEA bureau that Maxwell would be given another job at State when the Benghazi scandal blew over. Maxwell said Jones assured him he would eventually be brought back to NEA as a “senior adviser,” but that Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, reneged.
“The deal that NEA made with Cheryl Mills and the seventh floor was to keep Ray within NEA and just give him another portfolio. For whatever reason, it didn’t go down like that, and that was a complete shock to Beth [Jones], because that was the deal that Beth made with Cheryl,” the official said. “Behind Beth’s back, Maxwell ended up being put on administrative leave.”
Jones and Mills both declined to comment for this article, but a source close to Mills denied that any kind of deal was made or reneged on regarding Maxwell’s future employment. The decision to place Maxwell on administrative leave was based on the classified portion of the ARB’s report, which named Maxwell specifically, the source said, but since the ARB didn’t say that Maxwell had committed a “breach of duty,” he couldn’t be outright fired.”
“Maxwell just wants his day in court. He wrote a poem on his personal blog in April which referred to the State Department’s treatment of the four officials removed from their jobs after Benghazi as a “lynching.”
Last week, he posted another poem about the growing Benghazi scandal.
“The web of lies they weave gets tighter and tighter in its deceit until it bottoms out -at a very low frequency – and implodes,” he wrote. “Yet all the while, the more they talk, the more they lie, and the deeper down the hole they go.”
Last week, the Obama administration tried to stem the controversy by releasing 100 pages of emails and notes from the days following the attack. The documents, as previously reported, showed State Department and other officials trying to edit the internal story-line to remove references to prior security incidents and the possible involvement of Islamic extremist groups.
Last week I wrote about the memo issued by Doug Sosnik, the political director in Bill Clinton’s White House, in my “Can the Democratic Party Survive Barack Obama?” blog.
As I noted in the blog Sosnik issued his memo in advance of the House Benghazi hearings and the latest revelations and hearings regarding the IRS and DOJ scandals.
Two top-tier Democratic prospects recently bypassed running for Senate seats in Georgia and South Dakota — showing that Republicans aren't the only ones with internal jostling and recruiting hiccups ahead of next year's midterm elections.
The prospects’ decisions also show divisions within the Democratic Party and its challenge of finding candidates whose ideologies line up with voters in Republican-leaning states.
Democrats say they'll be fine even though Rep. John Barrow in Georgia and former Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin in South Dakota declined to seek seats left open by retirements. Both are moderate-to-conservative Democrats, whose views would seemingly play well in their states, giving the party a chance to win on GOP turf as Democrats look to hang onto power in the Senate. But without them running, Democrats probably will be forced to back more liberal, less-tested nominees who would likely have tougher races.
The circumstances underscore a particular challenge for Democrats: They have a five-seat cushion requiring that Republicans nearly sweep the most competitive races to gain enough seats for control. But many contests are in states where President Barack Obama never won and remains unpopular. Another hurdle for Democrats: Midterm electorates are generally older, whiter and more Republican than in presidential years.
Georgia Democrats are hoping to recruit Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn and a nonprofit executive in Atlanta. She's expected to announce a decision soon in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
In the contest for retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson's South Dakota seat, Democrats' preferred candidate now appears to be Rick Weiland, once a top aide to former Sen. Tom Daschle and twice an unsuccessful candidate for Congress. Weiland launched his bid, with Daschle's backing, amid clamoring about Herseth-Sandlin and Johnson's son, Brendan, a U.S. attorney. State Democrats now say the younger Johnson likely won't run.
"It's a recipe for a challenging campaign," said Steve Dick, a former Daschle aide. "It's a tough race, without a doubt. And it's getting more difficult. We're a red state. We just don't have these opportunities that often."
South Dakota is one of three states where a Democratic senator is retiring in a state Obama lost last November; the others are Montana and West Virginia. There also are Democratic retirements in the swing-voting states of Iowa and Michigan, which Obama won.
Republicans also are aiming at four Democratic incumbents in states Republican Mitt Romney won: Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Georgia, which went for Romney by 8 percentage points over Obama, has one of two GOP seats opened by retirements; the other is in Nebraska, a virtual lock for Republicans.
Democrats say they can challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, but they haven't yet recruited a top-tier candidate even though the Republican is unpopular at home.
At the National Republican Senatorial Committee, spokesman Brad Dayspring mocked Democrats for failing at a strategy he says was clear: Get conservative Democrats in Republican-leaning states. But Justin Barasky, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, dismissed the notion of an internal Democratic struggle or recruiting woes, and pointed to divisive primaries shaping up for Republicans in several states.
Clearly, Democrats are left with a tricky balance as they look for candidates with this criteria: Satisfy core Democratic voters, ensure successful fundraising and reach independents who voted for Romney and, before him, John McCain and George W. Bush.
Some Democrats thought Barrow and Herseth-Sandlin satisfied those standards.
Barrow is the Deep South's last white Democrat in the House, and he's beaten well-financed GOP nominees in a House district drawn to ensure his defeat. He's a gun owner who voted against the 2010 health care overhaul and voted to hold Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, in contempt of Congress. He supported the so-called fiscal cliff deal between Obama and congressional Republicans, and successfully wooed thousands of Romney supporters in his last campaign.
But the way Barrow keeps his job could explain why he abandoned the possibility of a promotion. He may keep his district seat, but a state-wide race is a horse of a different color.
Some Democrats had feared that Barrow would have drawn a primary opponent, and both national and state Democrats concede that the party's best chance for a Georgia upset is to avoid a divisive primary, while leaving a crowded GOP field to spend money and throw punches.
Fort said Nunn would be a compelling candidate. And Democrats, eager to dispute the notion that losing Barrow is a disappointment, point to polling commissioned by Senate Democrats that suggests Nunn would be the better candidate in a general election.
Former Rep. George "Buddy" Darden said Nunn's lack of experience could be an asset. She doesn't have a record to parse and can run as an outsider, he said, a particular upside if Republicans nominate one of the three sitting congressmen who are running.
In South Dakota, Herseth-Sandlin had been seen by national Democrats as a top-tier prospect because her profile fit the state, and they were aggressively courting her behind the scenes. The 42-year-old Sioux Falls lawyer was taking steps toward running, hoping to avoid a divisive primary in which her opposition to the health care bill in 2010 and support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2004 would be used against her.
Weiland, meanwhile, quickly entered the race, in part to keep Herseth-Sandlin out, a sign of tension between the moderate and liberal wings. Weiland, who lost to Herseth-Sandlin in the 2004 House primary, is a close Daschle ally.
That scenario becomes more probable should the race for the Republican nomination become contested, South Dakota Democrats said.
Former Gov. Mike Rounds is running and his fellow Republicans view him as a solid candidate. Yet popular GOP newcomer Kristi Noem, elected to the House in 2010, hasn't ruled out a candidacy. She's popular with the tea party and is seen as a better fundraiser than Rounds.
If these scandals continue to grow there is a distinct possibility more and more Democrats, especially in red or swing states will jump the Obama ship as Republicans did with Nixon. Nixon was reelected 1972 carrying 49 states but had a Democratic controlled Congress. By 1974 he had resigned the presidency under the cloud of impeachment.
For the next year Obama’s administration will be embroiled in continued and developing scandals of abuse of government powers and cover-up of foreign policy blunders. By the beginning of 2014, when the campaigns for the congressional elections begin it will be a very hot climate for Democratic candidates — especially in the areas of fund raising. Also Obama will be hamstrung in pushing his agenda forward. He already has lost a half year of his second term and will probably lose the remainder of the year.
If history plays out and the Republicans hold their majority in the House picking up three or four more seats and gain control of the Senate by picking up 6 seats the composition of the 114th Congress would be Republicans 51, Democrats 49 and one Independent — Bernie Sanders the socialist from Vermont who was reelected in 2012 with 71% of the vote. Sanders, usually voting with the Democrats could throw the Senate into a tie leaving the deciding vote to Joe Biden, but the Republicans would control all committee chairs and Harry Reid could join Nancy Pelosi at a Del Webb retirement community.
This may sound like wishful thinking but political scandals have a way of influencing state-wide elections and there are enough red states Obama won that could make a difference in 2014.