IRS lawyers ought to enjoy themselves this holiday weekend because, as the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott reports, "they'll be busier than normal next week." IRS counsel will make two separate appearances next week in court to explain and defend the agency's handling of Lois Lerner's now-missing emails.
The Obama administration has managed to keep the IRS story just below full-blown-scandal level for months now. The Washington-based establishment media, long friendly to Barack Obama and his White House, have been willing to accept at face value the increasingly implausible nothing-to-see-here claims of top IRS and Obama administration officials. Many reporters are eager to believe Democrats' claims that the scandal is yet another example of right wing hysteria. When Republicans make wild public accusations without evidence to support them, as we've seen in abundance in recent weeks, they make it easier for lazy reporters to move the IRS story from their "potential scandal" box to their "Washington dysfunction" pile.
The possible shift from Congress to the courts may complicate that framework.
On July 10, IRS lawyers will appear in federal district court to explain why they never reported the emails missing in the context of a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch. And the following day, the IRS legal team is expected to try to block outside access to the evidence that Lois Lerner's computer crashed—if such evidence exists.
Tapscott reports the IRS lawyers "will have to explain to U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton why the IRS shouldn't be required to let an outside expert evaluate whether emails on the computer hard drives of former IRS official Lois Lerner and six colleagues really are lost forever, as the agency recently told Congress.
“Responding to a motion filed Monday by True the Vote, a Houston-based conservative nonprofit at the center of IRS targeting during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns, Walton issued an order Tuesday to hear arguments next week."
The IRS and its leaders have thus far avoided serious legal scrutiny. The Department of Justice "investigation"—led by a high-dollar Obama donor, overseen by an attorney general who may be the most loyal of the Obama loyalists, who reports to a president who has already declared that there was not even a "smidgen" of corruption—has predictably yielded little.
With others now reviewing the evidence, that could change.