• Striking Out.

    In the ongoing IRS debacle and Benghazi, the GOP figures it hit a home run, or at least a triple with all bases covered. Something tells me the GOP hit a couple of fouls and is well and truly on its way to striking out.

    First, the specter of the Obama administration being responsible for targeting conservative groups through the IRS was swiftly snuffed with the following:

    Over two years, IRS field office agents repeatedly changed their criteria while sifting through thousands of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status to select ones for possible closer examination, the findings showed.

    At one point, the agents chose to screen applications from groups focused on making "America a better place to live."

    Exactly who at the IRS made the decisions to start applying extra scrutiny was not clear from the findings, which were contained in portions of an investigative report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
    After brewing for months, the IRS effort exploded into wider view on Friday when Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, apologized for what she called the "inappropriate" targeting of conservative groups for closer scrutiny, something the agency had long denied.

    At a legal conference in Washington, while taking questions from the audience, Lerner said the agency was sorry.

    She said the screening practice was confined to an IRS office in Cincinnati; that it was "absolutely not" influenced by the Obama administration; and that none of the targeted groups was denied tax-free status.
    By July 2011, the IRS was no longer targeting just groups with certain key words in their names. Rather, the screening criteria had changed to "organizations involved with political, lobbying, or advocacy."

    But then it changed again in January 2012 to cover "political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the constitution and bill of rights, social economic reform/movement," according to the findings contained in a Treasury Department watchdog report.

    In March 2012, after Tea Party groups complained about delays in processing of their applications, then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman was called to testify by a congressional committee. He denied that the IRS was targeting tax-exempt groups based on their politics.

    The IRS said on Saturday that senior IRS executives were not aware of the screening process. The documents reviewed by Reuters do not show that Shulman had any role.

    In May 2012, the criteria for scrutiny were revised again to cover a variety of tax-exempt groups "with indicators of significant amounts of political campaign intervention (raising questions as to exempt purpose and/or excess private benefit)," according to a TIGTA timeline included in the findings.

    The happy scandal balloon deflated even more when two salient facts came to light: that a Bush administration appointee was in charge of the IRS at the time this happened and that the IRS has been without a commissioner since he stepped down. In spite of the presence of an acting commissioner, the big chair remains empty due to the usual GOP obstructionism:

    Moreover, details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ­(TIGTA) on the details of their reviews.

    Then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee who stepped down in November, received a briefing from the TIGTA about what was happening in the Cincinnati office in May 2012, the aides said. His deputy and the agency’s current acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, also learned about the matter that month, the aides said.

    If the GOP still wants to place the blame on the Obama administration since this "happened on his watch," let the investigative processes commence.

    Not only is the IRS "scandal" proving to be anything but, so is Benghazi. Courtesy of PoliticusUSA:

    After CNN’s Jake Tapper exposed ABC’s report was based on information that was edited in order to make the Obama administration look bad, ABC tried to explain away their lies by claiming that their inaccurate story, and the actual emails are the same thing, “Assuming the email cited by Jake Tapper is accurate, it is consistent with the summary quoted by Jon Karl.”

    In the process of trying to defend himself, Karl exposed his own lies, “This is how I reported the contents of that e-mail, quoting verbatim a source who reviewed the original documents and shared detailed notes.” (In his original story, Karl claimed that ABC News had obtained the emails. This obviously wasn’t true.)

    Karl also explained that he and ABC News never reviewed the emails, “The source was not permitted to make copies of the original e-mails. The White House has refused multiple requests – from journalists, including myself, and from Republican leaders in Congress – to release the full e-mail exchanges.”

    For the sake of getting the scoop first, ABC News managed to trip all over its own shoelaces and get shown up by the folks at CNN. But that's beside the point. What matters is the lengths Republican leaders have gone to paint Benghazi as the next Watergate. It didn't hurt that they had a little help along the way:

    Jon Karl wrote that nobody could get copies the emails. If this was true, how did Jake Tapper get them?

    The truth is that Karl’s source was likely someone within the Republican House, because these emails were made available to the Republicans investigating Benghazi months ago. (Before Karl came to ABC he was a congressional correspondent at CNN, so connect the dots. Plus, it wasn’t a coincidence that this story broke days before House Republicans held another Benghazi hearing.)

    Jon Karl thought he found his "Deep Throat" and well...nah. Had a pretty good metaphor for this one, but it would be a bit uncouth even for DDSS standards. Jake Tapper saw an opening to make himself look good for once at Karl's expense. It's gonna make for a rather awkward meet when they run into each other at the next cocktail dinner.