It's pretty unbelievable that we are sitting here faced with not one, not even two, but three major scandals involving this administration. There's even a potential fourth scandal brewing, which we'll get to later.
A cancer is growing on this presidency. It's spreading quickly and affecting the integrity of our system of government. Some news agencies like Reuters refer to this as “governing headaches” for the administration. Dana Milbank at the Washington Post is labeling this the “second-term blues.” And then there's my favorite description from NBC, which is that Obama is suffering from a “second-term curse,” as if he has no control over any of this but it merely the victim.
But you know it is bad when the lead story on the Politico reads: Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill. The story goes on to point out that nearly one-third of House committees are currently investigating some aspect of the Obama administration.
The comparisons of Obama to Richard Nixon and Watergate have become pervasive. It's somewhat fitting that we are 40 years to the week that Congress began public hearings on the Watergate scandal.
Let's break down some of the latest of what we know and the reaction to these developing scandals in Washington.
DOJ Secretly Seizes AP Records
Yesterday afternoon the news broke that the Department of Justice had secretly obtained two months worth of phone records from the Associated Press. In all, records for 20 separate phone lines were seized, affecting more than 100 journalists in New York, Washington and Hartford, CT. Even records for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery was seized. The records spanned a two month period of April and May of 2012. While the government did not provide the AP a reason for the seizure, it is believed that they were trying to figure out who leaked information related to a story reported by the AP on May 7, 2012 about a foiled terror plot in Yemen. While the government has pulled phone records of news agencies before, the size and scope of this seizure is unusual, dare I say unprecedented.
As pointed out by the AP and other sources, “Rules published by the Justice Department require that subpoenas of records of news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general,” but we still do not know if Eric Holder was personally involved. You can read the full letter from the AP to Eric Holder here.
As Republican Rep. Darrel Issa pointed out yesterday, this is not the first scandal to involve the DOJ. Between Fast and Furious and the New Black Panther Party, the DOJ seems impervious to scandal shakeups. Perhaps this AP story will change that.
And if you want to hear something really hilarious, consider the fact that Barack Obama celebrated World Press Freedom Day at the same time his own Justice Department was secretly obtaining these phone records! CNSNews has Obama's statement, which reads in part: “On this World Press Freedom Day, the United States honors the role of a free press in creating sustainable democracies and prosperous societies … We pay special tribute to those journalists who have sacrificed their lives, freedom or personal well-being in pursuit of truth and justice.” Unbelievable.
IRS Targets Conservatives
Last Friday we learned that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups attempting to achieve non-profit status. At first they tried to claim that this was nothing but the work of “low-level” officials in one IRS office in Cincinnati. But over the weekend we learned that high-level officials within the IRS knew about the targeting of conservatives as early as 2011. Not only that, but while we were initially told that the targeted words included “tea party” or “patriot,” we've come to find that the targeting was much more broad and included groups concerned about the size of government, our debt, taxes, the Bill of Rights or the Constitution, and more.
Now the latest reports show that this practice of targeting conservatives was not limited to just Cincinnati. According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, “Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed.” So now this scandal heads straight to Washington.
Not only that, but we have some reports that the confidential information provided on the applications by these conservative groups may have then been disclosed to third party groups. Donald Rumsfeld in his new book “Rumsfeld's Rules” points out that it is not just conservative groups being targeted by the IRS but businesses that are critical of the administration. The targeting may have also extended to Jewish groups supporting Israel. A reporter has even stepped forward to say that ever since conducting a tough interview with Obama, he has been “hammered” by the IRS.
Do we have a real political enemies list on our hands?
But there is an interesting talking point being developed by liberals and that is to blame the IRS targeting conservatives on … Citizens United. Nancy Pelosi is one such Democrat pushing this theory that if it weren't for the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, the IRS wouldn't be put in this position. That still doesn't explain why the IRS only targeted conservative groups. Shall we blame Bush for that one?
The Anointed One seemed visibly agitated yesterday when asked about Benghazi during a press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron. He seemed more frustrated with Republicans and their “side show” than finding out the truth and bringing those really responsible to justice. Even his claim, which he repeated again yesterday, that he acknowledged Benghazi to be act of terrorism received four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. But Obama now infamously maintains that “there's no there there.” Clearly we know that's not the case. Last night on Hannity, former Vice President Dick Cheney called out the administration for lying and said that the cover-up is still ongoing. I would agree that what we have here is a massive national security cover-up, and it is not going to go away any time soon despite Obama's best efforts to brush it off.
This last story hasn't gotten really any coverage, due to the explosive nature of the other scandals we are covering. But did you know that our Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is actually calling private companies that she regulates and asking them to donate money to help implement ObamaCare? That's outrageous! The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff writes, “Sebelius has, over the past three months, made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and directly asked that they contribute to non-profits that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law.” This is illegal and it's unethical. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will be looking into Sebelius' “shake down” of insurance companies for cash, according to Breitbart.
As many have already pointed out, the IRS scandal mixed with the implementation of the widely unpopular ObamaCare (which is enforced by the IRS) is sure to create a lot of frustration and concern.