- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 6, 2014

The House’s top investigator said the investigation into the IRS political targeting scandal is being held up by a Justice Department that refuses to go after Lois Lerner, the former official at the heart of the probe.

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, told Fox News Sunday he hopes political pressure from the mid-term elections will at least prompt federal attorneys to “go through the motions” of presenting Congress’ contempt charge to a grand jury for possible indictment.

“How long will the Justice Department not take on this case?” Mr. Issa said.

Ms. Lerner kicked off scrutiny of the IRS last year when she apologized for how conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status had been treated. The apology came out ahead of an inspector general’s report that outlined intense vetting of groups with “tea party” in their names or other political triggers.

Republicans seized on the report, and the investigation resurfaced in recent weeks because the IRS says a 2011 hard drive crash caused them to lose two years’ worth of Ms. Lerner’s emails that may be highly relevant to the GOP’s probe.

For her part, Ms. Lerner has cited her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in the face of congressional hearings into potential targeting by the division she led at the IRS.

That has not stopped Mr. Issa and fellow GOP lawmakers from keeping the issue in the spotlight.

“She broke rules, she broke the law and continues to hide under the Fifth Amendment, which is her right,” Mr. Issa told Fox, but added, “She’s played fast and loose with the truth several times.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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