It’s been a very bad week for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – which translates into a very bad week for the American people.

First, it was revealed the IRS failed to implement critical upgrades to its computer systems which made it much easier for Russian hackers to steal information from more than 100,000 taxpayers. Then, if Russian hackers weren’t enough, an IRS employee in Missouri pleaded guilty to stealing more than $325,000 by filing fraudulent tax returns – stealing the identities of American taxpayers.

Now, we learn that as Congress began its investigation into the unlawful scheme targeting conservative and Tea Party groups the IRS used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress.

According to new bombshell testimony, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).

 

The “special project” this team was given?  Concealing information from Congress.

The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.” She told Congress that once the “special project team” was created and operational, she never saw requests for information.

Members of Congress have long complained that many of the documents produced by the IRS have been “redacted to the point of absurdity.”  Now we know why.

Members of Congress have long complained that many of the documents produced by the IRS have been “redacted to the point of absurdity.” Now we know why.

Her testimony is clear: As soon as the IRS targeting scandal broke, the IRS set up a special team of hundreds of attorneys, including President Obama’s political head of the Chief Counsel’s office, to keep requests for publicly available information away from the person who would normally review those documents and turn them over to Congress and the public.  That “special” team then overly redacted, delayed, and determined which documents it wanted Congress to see.

After setting up a special “group” to target and delay applications by Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status, the IRS set up a new “special project team” to delay and redact information from Congress about that targeting.  Talk about a cover-up.

When asked about these revelations and the ongoing investigation by Congress into the IRS and former top IRS official Lois Lerner’s involvement, Howard testified, “I think that Lois Lerner was the tip of the iceberg.”

This is what we at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) have been arguing all along.  The targeting of conservative groups, the delays, the unconstitutionally abusive questions go far beyond Lerner. We expect to learn more about Lerner’s role and the disappearance and later recovery of many of her emails later this month as the Inspector General for Tax Administration is due to issue its report.

Congress’s investigation is far from over.  At the ACLJ, our ongoing lawsuit on behalf of dozens of conservative and pro-life groups targeted by the IRS is far from over.  Our appeal is pending before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the targeting is far from over as well, as the application of one of our clients has been pending for well over five years.

We will not give up.  The more we learn the worse it gets.  The IRS has become a bureaucratic behemoth that – as I describe in my new book “Undemocratic” – is institutionally incapable of self-correction.

We will continue fighting to expose IRS corruption and pursue justice for the American people.

Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He’s a New York Times bestselling author. Jay’s latest book – “Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World” – is available now.  He hosts "Jay Sekulow Live"-- a daily radio show which is broadcast on more than 850 stations nationwide as well as Sirius/XM satellite radio. Follow him on Twitter @JaySekulow.