We’ve been disinclined to comment on the IRS scandal because the partisan hype is so tangled up with the serious issues, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that a tipping point has been reached. The Hill reports that Lois Lerner’s hard drive, previously presumed dead, was actually not quite beyond hope:
Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said that the committee had learned that Lerner’s hard drive was “scratched,” and that private sector specialists likely could have recovered emails.IRS technicians also recommended that the agency seek outside help in recovering the emails, before the hard drive was recycled. A Ways and Means spokeswoman said the information came from an analyst with the IRS’s criminal investigations unit, which examined Lerner’s hard drive.The IRS has said for weeks that Lerner’s hard drive crash left them unable to reproduce all of her emails for more than two years.Last week, agency officials said under oath in court filings that Lerner’s hard drive couldn’t be restored, and was then destroyed to protect confidential taxpayer information.
One should note that these accusations are coming from Republicans and that they are disputed by many Democrats. So we aren’t yet in full Watergate mode. Still, if there is any fire at all under all this smoke, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that a felonious coverup of a constitutional crime is underway. Why constitutional? If the scandal were just about awarding money to a favored ally or even covering up the ordinary misdeeds of an office holder, that would be one thing. But this scandal is about the deliberate use of state power against political opponents.It’s far from clear how high up the problems extend. Occam’s Razor still suggests that mid-level rather than top-level officials were in the mix, but a serious political society shouldn’t sit back idly when something like this seems to be happening.