After evidence surfaced on Wednesday showing that Lois Lerner had sent suspicious emails inquiring as to the way electronic records were handled by the IRS, the fervor reached a climatic peak in some conservative circles. Congress, mostly on party lines, 231-187, with six Democrats joining Republicans, voted back in May to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. With this new information, Congressman Steve Stockman has introduced a resolution to arrest Lerner.
Announced in a press release, Stockman said:
Asking the Justice Department to prosecute Lois Lerner for admittedly illegal activity is a joke. The Obama administration will not prosecute the Obama administration. How much longer will the House allow itself to be mocked? It is up to this House to uphold the rule of law and hold accountable those who illegally targeted American citizens for simply having different ideas than the President.
He cited precedent for this move:
Democrats admit the House has the power to arrest those in contempt of Congress. “I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day,” former House Speaker and current House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi told The Huffington Post just days ago, on June 20. “I’m not kidding. There’s a prison here in the Capitol. If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him.”
Stockman also cited the Supreme Court’s affirmation of Congress’s right to imprison, quoting the New York Times:
In 1821, the Supreme Court upheld Congress’s right to hold people in contempt and imprison them. Without this power, the court ruled, Congress would “be exposed to every indignity and interruption, that rudeness, caprice, or even conspiracy, may mediate against it.” Later, in a 1927 case arising from the Teapot Dome scandal, the court upheld the Senate’s arrest of the brother of a former attorney general — carried out in Ohio by the deputy sergeant at arms — for ignoring a subpoena to testify,” the Times wrote.
He included the language of the resolution in full. In the summary, it calls on the speaker to issue a warrant for Lerner’s arrest and the sergeant at arms or one the sergeant’s deputies to pursue, arrest, and incarcerate Lerner. It also called Lerner’s unwillingness to testify a “gross and wanton insult to the integrity of its proceedings.”
With conservative anger over Lerner at sky-high levels, the resolution may have the votes. For the past year, little progress has been made despite countless committee hearings and investigations. It seems that few will talk, and when anyone does, the trail goes back to Lerner. Sometimes during an investigation, only the threat of arrest will compel testimony.
It’s simple. Arrest Lois Lerner. Will Boehner move?