The former U.S. Attorney for Arizona could be disbarred, after an
investigation found he lied to the Justice Department about his role in
trying to discredit the federal whistle-blower who exposed the botched
gun-running scheme known as Fast and Furious.
An Office of Inspector General report showed that Dennis Burke -- the
former chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
appointed as U.S. Attorney for Arizona by President Obama in September
2009 -- lied when asked if he leaked sensitive documents to the press
meant to undermine the credibility of ATF whistle-blower John Dodson.
The IG report also said Burke likely leaked the memo in retaliation
for Dodson's whistle-blowing, and challenged the credibility of
statements he made to congressional investigators. Dodson first went to
Congress in 2010 after his own agency and the Justice Department refused
to investigate his complaints that Operation Fast and Furious, an
anti-gun-trafficking effort, was out of control. "We also concluded that Burke's disclosure of the Dodson memorandum
was likely motivated by a desire to undermine Dodson's public criticisms
of Operation Fast and Furious. Although Burke denied to congressional
investigators that he had any retaliatory motive for his actions, we
found substantial evidence to the contrary," the IG report, released
Dodson appeared before Congress in June 2011. At the time, the
Department of Justice denied his claim that the federal government
approved a plan to knowingly assist criminals in smuggling thousands of
guns to the Mexican drug cartels. Dodson's credibility was crucial since nearly everyone above him
denied the allegation. The report found that Burke leaked information
that sought to undermine Dodson's story to a Fox News producer.
"The report brings into question, yet again, the treatment that
whistle-blowers receive from this administration," Sen. Charles
Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday. "Instead of examining the allegations
that came forward, the Justice Department almost immediately began to
attack the credibility and good name of a dedicated federal agent upset
with what he was ordered to do." Burke used his private email account to leak the information to a
friend in Washington who then hand-delivered the information to the Fox
producer. The IG said in its report it used an "administrative subpoena"
to identify the personal email of relevant Department employees to
confirm the leak.
Once contacted by IG staff, Burke admitted he was the source. The
IG's office had asked 150 Justice Department employees to affirm they
were not the leak. But the report said he gave misleading information to congressional
investigators. Asked about the issue by congressional investigators,
Burke said: "I was under the impression that (the Dodson memo) had gone
to the Hill and that I was basically giving (the Fox producer) a time
advantage." He also allegedly misled his own superior in Washington, Assistant Attorney General James Cole.
At the time, Cole had seen a New York Times story about Fast and
Furious. In it, the paper published a picture which showed the document
had been faxed from the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona. When
confronted, the report said Burke told Cole, "I don't think we have a
The IG report claims Burke was "admonished by Deputy Attorney General
Cole for lying to him ... and had been put on notice such disclosures
should not occur." After speaking with Burke, Cole wrote "another horrible incident of bad judgment." The following day, Aug. 13, Burke resigned.
Fox News tried unsuccessfully to contact Burke, who recently formed a
security and lobbying firm with former Secret Service Director Mark
Sullivan, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf
and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano's Chief of Staff Noah
The Office of Inspector General is an investigative arm that monitors
the Justice Department. It tried to interview Burke, but he resigned.
The IG said Burke violated numerous federal and professional rules of
conduct and it would forward a copy of its report to the Arizona State
Bar Association for disciplinary conduct.
The man who led the IRS when
the agency gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups tells Congress he
knew little about what was happening.
By Richard Simon and Joseph Tanfani
May 21, 2013, 12:15 p.m.
WASHINGTON – A top IRS
official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the
Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee
investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit
groups. Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division
of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the
improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight committee Wednesday.
The Fox News Channel is outraged over
new revelations that three of its reporting staffers were targeted by
the U.S. Department of Justice in criminal investigations related to
their attempts to obtain information from government sources. James
Rosen, the network's chief Washington correspondent, has become a First
Amendment cause celebre over his treatment by the Obama administration.
But the DOJ, Fox says, also investigated the Emmy Award-winning
investigative reporter William La Jeunesse and Fox News producer Mike
Levine. Rosen, according to affidavits filed by FBI agents, was considered a possible criminal co-conspirator. SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
Fox News's Shannon Bream (R) and Megyn Kelly (L)
broke the news Monday that the DOJ had targeted three of their
journalist colleagues in criminal investigations for seeking classified
information from willing government sources
The Washington Post reported
Monday morning that Rosen was the subject of a Department of Justice
probe in relation to his reporting about North Korea's likely reactions
to new UN sanctions in 2009. Federal investigators read his personal
emails, obtained his phone records, and tracked his comings and goings
through government buildings. An
FBI agent filed an affidavit in that case claiming that he thought
Rosen had broken the law, 'at the very least, either as an aider,
abetter and/or co-conspirator.'
None of the three journalists
targeted by the Obama administration was notified that the government
was spying on his records and emails. 'All three of our colleagues say they were never contacted by the government,' Fox News Channel correspondent Shannon Bream reported on Monday afternoon.
James Rosen (L) attracted the Justice
Department's attention in 2009 when he reported on North Korea's plans
to engage in additional nuclear tests following new UN sanctions.
William La Jeunesse (R) broke news about Operation Fast and Furious,
allegedly with the help of willing informants from inside the U.S.
Jeunesse and Levine were targeted in a separate Department of Justice
investigation into leaks related to Operation Fast and Furious, a
scandal-plagued DOJ program that sent illicit guns across the Mexican
border to drug cartels in the hope of tracing the guns' path to the
narcotics gangs. The
federal government lost track of the majority of approximately 2,000
firearms that were allowed to cross the southern U.S. border. More than
300 deaths in Mexico, and the death of at least one U.S. Border Patrol
agent, were linked to those weapons. La Jeunesse broke stories outlining
several key elements of the Fast and Furious scandal. Monday's Inspector
General report from the DOJ directly quotes his emails, as well as some
from Levine, the Fox News producer. 'What we don't know at this point,' Bream reported,
'is if the sources within the Justice Department may have shared those
emails with investigators, or if the Fox employees' accounts were
directly accessed by investigators. It's simply a question we cannot
answer at this point.'
Fox News Channel producer Mike Levine's emails
were read by DOJ investigators, but his employer isn't certain whether
it was the result of a subpoena, or of agents swapping information
inside Main Justice
Fox News Channel released a pointed statement from executive vice president of news editorial
Michael Clemente. 'We are outraged to learn today that
James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job
as a reporter,' Clemente said. 'In fact, it is downright
chilling.' 'We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.' The news broke as White House Press
Secretary Jay Carney was preparing to deliver his daily briefing to
reporters, but with correspondents away from their television sets and
unaware of the development, questions focused on the first incarnation
of the Obama administration's press freedom scandal, involving the
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fended
off questions about the press freedom scandal on Monday, claiming
President Obama aims to balance the First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution with the need to protect state secrets
Attorney General Eric Holder
has denied having any knowledge of a probe in his agency that saw the
phone records of approximately 20 AP employees turned over to federal
investigators who sought to determine who had leaked information about
the CIA's role in a foiled terror plot in Yemen. Holder
claimed in a congressional hearing last week that he had recused
himself from the investigation since he himself was interviewed as a
possible suspect or witness. Carney
has denied that Obama was informed about that probe, and said Monday
that the president 'is committed to the press's ability to pursue
information and protecting the First Amendment. Obama
is 'also mindful,' he added, 'of secret and classified information
needing to stay secret and classified for national security reasons.'
Political abuse of the IRS threatens the basic integrity of our government.
By PEGGY NOONAN
are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The
reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from
sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to
dangerous. No one likes what they're seeing. The Justice Department
assault on the Associated Press and the ugly politicization of the
Internal Revenue Service have left the administration's credibility
deeply, probably irretrievably damaged. They don't look jerky now, they
look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone. Something big has shifted. The standing of the administration has changed. As always it comes down to trust. Do you trust the president's
answers when he's pressed on an uncomfortable story? Do you trust his
people to be sober and fair-minded as they go about their work? Do you
trust the IRS and the Justice Department? You do not.
The president, as usual, acts as if all
of this is totally unconnected to him. He's shocked, it's unacceptable,
he'll get to the bottom of it. He read about it in the papers, just
But he is not unconnected, he is not a bystander. This is his
administration. Those are his executive agencies. He runs the IRS and
the Justice Department. A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he
is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is to too partisan, too
disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents
always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last
row in the sleepy agency across town.
The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate
and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative
groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists.
In order to suppress conservative groups—at first those with words
like "Tea Party" and "Patriot" in their names, then including those that
opposed ObamaCare or advanced the second amendment—the IRS demanded
donor rolls, membership lists, data on all contributions, names of
volunteers, the contents of all speeches made by members, Facebook
posts, minutes of all meetings, and copies of all materials handed out
at gatherings. Among its questions: What are you thinking about? Did you
ever think of running for office? Do you ever contact political
figures? What are you reading? One group sent what it was reading: the
U.S. Constitution. The second part of the scandal is the auditing
of political activists who have opposed the administration. The
Journal's Kim Strassel reported an Idaho businessman named Frank
VanderSloot, who'd donated more than a million dollars to groups
supporting Mitt Romney. He found himself last June, for the first time
in 30 years, the target of IRS auditors. His wife and his business were
also soon audited. Hal Scherz, a Georgia physician, also came to the
government's attention. He told ABC News: "It is odd that nothing
changed on my tax return and I was never audited until I publicly
criticized ObamaCare." Franklin Graham, son of Billy, told Politico he
believes his father was targeted. A conservative Catholic academic who
has written for these pages faced questions about her meager freelance
writing income. Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as
there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they're afraid
of saying they were audited.
All of these IRS actions took place in the years leading up to the
2012 election. They constitute the use of governmental power to intrude
on the privacy and shackle the political freedom of American citizens.
The purpose, obviously, was to overwhelm and intimidate—to kill the
opposition, question by question and audit by audit. It is not even remotely possible that all this was an accident, a
mistake. Again, only conservative groups were targeted, not liberal. It
is not even remotely possible that only one IRS office was involved.
Lois Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, was the person
who finally acknowledged, under pressure of a looming investigative
report, some of what the IRS was doing. She told reporters the actions
were the work of "frontline people" in Cincinnati. But other offices
were involved, including Washington. It is not even remotely possible
the actions were the work of just a few agents.
This was more systemic.
It was an operation. The word was out: Get the Democratic Party's foes.
It is not remotely possible nobody in the IRS knew what was going on
until very recently. The Washington Post reported efforts to target the
conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency by May
2012—far earlier than the agency had acknowledged. Reuters reported
high-level IRS officials, including its chief counsel, knew in August
2011 about the targeting.
The White House is reported to be shellshocked at public reaction to
the scandal. But why? Were they so high-handed, so essentially ignorant,
that they didn't understand what it would mean to the American people
when their IRS—the revenue-collecting arm of the U.S. government—is
revealed as a low, ugly and bullying tool of the reigning powers? If
they didn't know how Americans would react to that, what did they know? I
mean beyond Harvey Weinstein's cellphone number.
And why—in the matters of the Associated Press and Benghazi too—does
no one in this administration ever take responsibility? Attorney General
Eric Holder doesn't know what happened, exactly who did what. The
president speaks in the passive voice. He attempts to act out
indignation, but he always seems indignant at only one thing: that he's
being questioned at all. That he has to address this. That fate put it
on his plate.
We all have our biases. Mine is for a federal government that, for
all the partisan shootouts on the streets of Washington, is allowed to
go about its work. That it not be distracted by scandal, that political
disagreement be, in the end, subsumed to the common good. It is a
dangerous world: Calculating people wish to do us harm. In this world no
draining, unproductive scandals should dominate the government's life.
Independent counsels should not often come in and distract the U.S.
government from its essential business. But that bias does not fit these circumstances.
Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.
What happened at the IRS is the
government's essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for
an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position's powers.
Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned.
Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if
they don't, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it
is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn't stopped, no one
will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering
arm of the U.S. government again.
And it would be shameful and shallow for any Republican operative or
operator to make this scandal into a commercial and turn it into a mere
partisan arguing point and part of the game. It's not part of the game.
This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the
integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is
to say our ability to function.
Men who are strong are more likely to take a right-wing stance, while weaker men support the welfare state, researchers claim. Their study discovered a link between a man’s upper-body strength and their political views. Scientists
from Aarhus University in Denmark collected data on bicep size,
socio-economic status and support for economic redistribution from
hundreds in America, Argentina and Denmark.
Men who are physically strong - like Arnold Schwarzenegger - are more likely to take a right wing political stance
The figures revealed that men with
higher upper-body strength were less likely to support left-wing
policies on the redistribution of wealth.
Men with less upper body strength are more likely to support the welfare state - like Labour leader Ed Miliband
But men with low upper-body strength were more likely to put their own self-interest aside and support a welfare state.
The researchers found no link between upper-body strength and redistribution opinions among women.
Professor Michael Petersen said: ‘In
all three countries, physically strong males consistently pursued the
self-interested position on redistribution. ‘However physically weak males were
more reluctant to assert their self-interest – just as if disputes over
national policies were a matter of direct physical confrontation between
individuals. ‘While many people think of politics as a modern phenomenon, it has, in a sense, always been with our species.
‘Political views are designed by natural selection to function in the conditions recurrent over human evolutionary history.’ The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.
Petersen added: ‘Many previous studies have shown that people's
political views cannot be predicted by standard economic models. ‘This
is among the first studies to show that political views may be rational
in another sense, in that they're designed by natural selection to
function in the conditions recurrent over human evolutionary history.’
The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt
organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now
runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation. Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible
for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since
left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today. Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the
scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that
time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit. Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago. As the House voted to fully repeal
the Affordable Care Act Thursday evening, House Speaker John Boehner
expressed “serious concerns” that the IRS is empowered as the law’s
chief enforcer. “Fully repealing ObamaCare will help us build a stronger, healthier
economy, and will clear the way for patient-centered reforms that lower
health care costs and protect jobs,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Obamacare empowers the agency that just violated the public’s trust
by secretly targeting conservative groups,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman,
R-Ind., added. “Even by Washington’s standards, that’s unacceptable.” Sen. John Cornyn even introduced a bill, the “Keep the IRS Off Your
Health Care Act of 2013,” which would prohibit the Secretary of the
Treasury, or any delegate, including the IRS, from enforcing the
Affordable Care Act. “Now more than ever, we need to prevent the IRS from having any role
in Americans’ health care,” Cornyn, R-Texas, stated. “I do not support
Obamacare, and after the events of last week, I cannot support giving
the IRS any more responsibility or taxpayer dollars to implement a
broken law.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also reacted to the revelation
late Thursday, stating the news was “stunning, just stunning.” ABC News’ Abby D. Phillip contributed to this report.
It's easy to tell that President Obama is going through a
scandal-ridden “tough time” since he's even under fire from Jon Stewart,
host of “The Daily Show” on the Comedy Central cable channel, who said
on Tuesday that the Democratic occupant of the White House “can't keep saying you found out about news at the same time as us!”
The liberal comedian said he found it strange that the
president didn't learn much sooner about the Internal Revenue Service
persecuting groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names and the
Justice Department confiscating phone records about Associated Press