MSNBC’s Reid: Holding Lois Lerner In Contempt ‘Really Does Ratchet Up The…Persecution Of Her’

The folks at MSNBC seem to be doing their best to try and minimize the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Ever since the initial reports broke in 2013, liberals have characterized conservative outrage as nothing more than a political stunt and one of many “faux scandals and conspiracy theories.”

The most recent example came from Obama activist turned MSNBC host Joy Reid, who on Wednesday April 9 during her daily Reid Report program declared that GOP efforts to hold IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress “Really does ratchet up the level of what you might call persecution of her.” [See video below.]

After reading lengthy statements from Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Lerner’s attorney, Reid declared the GOP “Have zeroed in on Lois Lerner, she is going to be the face of their IRS witch hunt and not the White House.” Reid then attempted to minimize the scandal even further:

The bottom line, with health care dissipating as a potent political topic and scant red meat to take home to their Tea Party base over the recess, Republicans are trying to freshen up their favorite faux scandals and conspiracy theories.

Reid’s comments came during an interview with liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank who unsurprisingly mocked the investigation of Ms. Lerner:

This was a classic case, the Ways and Means hearing, which I was at this morning. First of all, they are saying explicitly they think the person responsible for this wrong doing was Lois Lerner, not part of a culture of corruption in the White House but, in fact, a career employee at the IRS. So leaving aside that means basically the entire investigation fizzled in its attempt to find a skullduggery within the White House.

Reid then proceeded to declare the House investigation a “circus” before attempting to dismiss all of the offenses leveled against Lerner:

Used her position to improperly influence agency action against only conservative organizations, which of course is factually not true. Impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements. Risked exposing and may have actually disclosed, confidential taxpayer information. But again, none of that gets to what Darrell Issa promised his Republican base, which is that he was going to locate this conspiracy in the Nixonian White House and he didn't do it. And he very demonstrably not doing it.

Reid brought Milbank on for the sole purpose of having a liberal voice to slap down the GOP, primarily Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA): “Over in the Oversight Committee it's just about a contempt vote that everybody knows is going nowhere.” 

Milbank, who uses his Washington Post column to lambast conservatives on a regular basis, was never going to push back against Reid’s liberal views regarding the IRS scandal, which helped to cement the MSNBC narrative that the GOP is engaged in a “witch hunt" against the Lois Lerner and the Obama Administration. 

 

See relevant transcript below.


MSNBC

The Reid Report

April 9, 2014

2:15 p.m. Eastern

JOY REID: Also today, Congressman Cummings released a report calling Darrell Issa’s relentless pursuit of the IRS faux-scandal McCarthy like. "We oppose Chairman Issa's efforts to recreate the oversight committee in Joe McCarthy's image and we reject his attempts to drag us back to that shameful era that had to do with the responsible oversight and had everything to do with the most dishonorable kind of partisan politics." But that hasn't stopped Chairman Issa from pressing on. His committee plans to vote on a resolution to hold IRS scapegoat, excuse me IRS former official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress tomorrow for allegedly failing to comply with a congressional subpoena after supposedly waving her Fifth Amendment rights. Something that congressional legal scholars say the committee can't do because learner's Fifth Amendment assertion was never overruled before Issa pulled the plug on the hearing and on Congressman Cummings microphone. It also hasn't stopped the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp from holding a vote on whether to ask the Justice Department to actually file criminal charges against Lerner. The vote passed along party lines 23 to 12. The bottom line, with health care dissipating as a potent political topic and scant red meat to take home to their Tea Party base over the recess, Republicans are trying to freshen up their favorite faux scandals and conspiracy theories. Joining me now to discuss the goings on, on Capitol Hill "Washington Post" opinion writer Dana Milbank. Dana before I get to you, I do want to read the response from Lois Lerner’s attorney to the pursuit of criminal charges against her. The attorney writes the timing of today's vote is odd. "We have not heard from the House Ways and Means Committee, nor has the committee previously issued a report of its findings. This is just another attempt by Republicans to vilify Ms. Lerner for political gain." So talk about that, Dana. It does seem like they have zeroed on Lois Lerner, she is going to be the face of their IRS witch hunt and not the White House.

DANA MILBANK: Right. So this was a classic case the Ways and Means hearing which I was at this morning. First of all, they are saying explicitly they think the person responsible for this wrong doing was Lois Lerner, not part of a culture of corruption in the White House but, in fact, a career employee at the IRS. So leaving aside that means basically the entire investigation fizzled in its attempt to find a skullduggery within the White House. Well, so Chairman Camp of the Ways and Means had information he would like to deliver to Eric Holder. He could have called Attorney General Holder on the phone and given him the information but he wanted to have a big public vote on releasing the information and that wasn't exciting enough so first they had a vote to kick everybody out of the room so they could have a secret debate on whether or not to provide this information and then they voted to provide the information then they released it all anyway. So much for the secret hearing. It basically became a circus.

REID: It became a circus. And just to your point, we're putting up what they accusing her of, used her position to improperly influence agency action against only conservative organizations, which of course is factually not true. Impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements. Risked exposing and may have actually disclosed, confidential taxpayer information. But again, none of that gets to what Darrell Issa promised his Republican base, which is that he was going to locate this conspiracy in the Nixonian White House and he didn't do it. And he very demonstrably not doing it.

MILBANK: Right, and the irony is they're saying her offense was to release confidential taxpayer information so what did they vote to do today? Yes, they voted to release confidential taxpayer information to prove that Lois Lerner had done something wrong. So it adds yet another layer to the farce that's going on. Ways and Means is relatively serious compared to what's going on over in the Darrell Issa's Oversight Committee. Ways and Means is at least asking Holder to launch -- to investigate it which, of course, the Justice Department is already doing. Over in the Oversight Committee it's just about a contempt vote that everybody knows is going nowhere. That's going to be--

REID: Yeah.

MILBANK: More fun for us.

REID: Obviously, yeah, the attempt to criminally prosecute this woman really does ratchet up the level of what you might call persecution of her.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.