Rep. Steve Stockman filed a motion Thursday directing congressional police to arrest ex-IRS official Lois Lerner for contempt of Congress and take her to the D.C. jail for questioning according to Politico.
Lerner has been at the center of the IRS scandal as she was the head of the nonprofit department that oversaw tax exempt status designations. She and the IRS waged a years-long campaign of harassment against Tea Party groups in an apparent effort to stymie political efficacy.
On Wednesday, Congress discovered emails that show an attempt by Lerner to cover her tracks as investigators investigated her department’s actions.
On Thursday, Rep. Stockman announced the resolution calling for the arrest of Lerner.
“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,” said Stockman.
“Democrats have openly stated the House has the powers to arrest those in contempt of Congress and imprison them in the Capitol. I don’t want to go as far as Democrats in exercising the House’s powers to arrest. Ms. Lerner will be held in the D.C. jail,” Stockman said.
Arresting Lerner would place her in custody where she would retain all legal rights and be offered an attorney according to TPNN.
“It’s time to for House to stop tacitly endorsing this administration’s illegal activity by refusing to hold him accountable. I expect Democrats to defend and even praise criminal activity. The question is whether Republican leadership will join them in mocking the House and breaking the law,” Stockman continued.
Undoubtedly, Democrats will take issue with the resolution. However, a statement from Stockman’s office clarified that the power exists within Congress. Quoting a New York Times article, Stockman’s office wrote,
“From the Republic’s earliest days, Congress has had the right to hold recalcitrant witnesses in contempt — and even imprison them — all by itself. In 1795, shortly after the Constitution was ratified, the House ordered its sergeant at arms to arrest and detain two men accused of trying to bribe members of Congress. The House held a trial and convicted one of them,” the Times wrote in a Dec. 4, 2007 editorial.
“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.
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has even mentioned how she reserved the right to arrest Karl Rove and hold him in the Capitol.TheTeaParty.net’s Executive Director, Niger Innis, was delighted with the news, saying,
“Unlike Watergate, which was an inconsequential, incompetent robbery job, Lerner’s crimes are not just her obstruction and cover-up, but it’s the very act itself of using the police powers of the Executive Branch of our government as a partisan, political weapon against Tea Party and other conservative groups, harassing and denying them the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights.”