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Conflict Of Interest: AG Merrick Garland’s Special Counsel Appointed To Investigate Trump Was Central Figure In IRS Targeting Scandal

Democrats don’t understand the word ‘bias’

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(Daily Caller) Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate former president Donald Trump’s possession of classified information, was a key figure in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)’s infamous targeting of conservative non-profits, according to a 2014 report by Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.

On Oct. 8, 2010, Smith, then-Chief of the DOJ Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section at the time, called a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner “to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits,” according to testimony from Richard Pilger, then director of the section’s Election Crimes Branch and subordinate of Smith’s, to the Oversight Committee. Lerner eventually resigned from the IRS in 2015 following criticism of her targeting of conservative groups when denying or delaying tax-exempt status.

 

“This seems egregious to me – could we ever charge a [18 U.S.C. §] 371 conspiracy to violate laws of the USA for misuse of such non-profits to get around existing campaign finance laws + limits?,” Smith wrote in an email to colleagues, per the Oversight Committee report. His email suggested that the department investigate conservative non-profits that reportedly may have violated campaign finance laws, according to The New York Times.

The impetus for the meeting was President Barack Obama’s public criticism of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, according to the report.

 

The Times’s article described how 501-registered charities, with ties to conservative lawmakers, were receiving donations from corporations and interest groups. At the time, these groups were also lobbying the same lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the Times writing that “The sponsors – AT&T, Chevron, General Dynamics, Morgan Stanley, Eli Lilly and dozens of others – contribute millions of dollars annually in gifts ranging from token amounts to a check for $5 million.”

Smith’s meeting with Lerner shortly followed the article. Smith also urged the IRS to be “more vigilant to the opportunities from more crime in the … 501(c)(4) area.”

IRS officials under Lerner were later involved in selecting groups with the words “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names for audits, following Lerner’s meeting with Smith. The IRS’s scrutiny of non-profit 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt statuses applied for by these groups prevented them from fully participating in the 2012 presidential election between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as admitted by the agency in 2013.

Lerner later resigned from the IRS and pled the 5th Amendment when questioned about her actions by the Oversight Committee, which led to her being held in contempt of Congress. However, Smith and his team had “serious conflicts of interest stemming from their interaction with the IRS,” the report alleged.

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