Congressman Trey Gowdy checkmates Lois Lerner
Eric Golub is a politically conservative Jewish blogger,...
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., May 22, 2013 — President Obama has finally met his match. After years of deflecting and blaming others for numerous scandals, he finds himself up against one man with superior skills.
South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy speaks with a slow Southern drawl. While coastal snobs may consider him a “hick” or a “hilbilly,” Gowdy is all brains. Unlike some politicians, he has actually in his lifetime held gainful and meaningful employment. He was a prosecutor, and his interrogation skills reflect a superb intellect.
During various congressional hearings, many committee members use their limited time to admire their own voices. Gowdy gets straight to the pertinent questions. He knows the law. He was at his prosecutorial finest when IRS employee Lois Lerner tried to stonewall the Oversight Committee.
From Benghazi to Fast and Furious to the Associated Press, keeping track of Obama scandals requires sharp focus. The IRS scandal involves government employees deliberately targeting politically conservative and other organizations that Obama dislikes, as well as targeting individuals who have irritated the Obama machine.
California Congressman Darrell Issa’s committee wants one major question answered: Who decided to use the IRS to target political opponents? Lerner may know. She decided to invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. She refused to answer questions. Yet she badly miscalculated.
She began with a self-righteous opening statement claiming she did nothing wrong. Only after defending herself did she invoke her Fifth Amendment rights.
Republicans on the committee thought they had been defeated, but Gowdy knew better. Once a person issues a statement, Fifth Amendment privilege is waived on the substance of the statement. By issuing an opening statement, Ms. Lerner was testifying. Her right to stay silent on that testimony was gone forever.
A panicked liberal Elijah Cummings of Maryland pointed out that while congressional hearings are “like” a court of law, they are not in actuality a court of law. Even Congressman Issa, normally a very sharp and prepared operator, had to check on whether Gowdy’s interpretation applied.
It absolutely does. So what do Republicans do next?
Long ago, Obama took the gloves off because he rightly concluded that Republicans did not have the stomach for a protracted fight. They would back down because they always do. They are so scared of being seen as “mean” and “partisan” that they would rather just say they tried their best and roll over.
Gowdy does not roll over, but he is not in charge. Issa has a major decision to make.
Since Lerner waived Fifth Amendment privileges, Issa must compel her testimony. If she refuses, then she must be arrested and held in contempt of Congress. She can sit in a cell until she agrees to testify.
This might not end the matter. Susan McDougal spent eighteen months in jail to protect the Clintons. Maybe Lerner is willing to remain in jail to protect President Obama.
Maybe she is not.
Her defenders would portray her as a victim, a poor helpless woman being attacked by mean men on the committee.
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