Fox News First

Big break in IRS case will change scandal’s course

Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill


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Buzz Cut:
• Big break in IRS case will change scandal’s course
• Administration blames Iraq losses on bad intel
• Sorry, not sorry: Hillary says she ‘worked hard’ for $155 million haul
• First in Fox News First: Alexander challenger opens with amnesty attack
• It’s not delinquency, it’s job training

New evidence about the actions of the IRS official at the center of the investigation into the agency’s systematic targeting of President Obama’s political adversaries is intensifying the firestorm over the alleged corruption. IRS executive Lois Lerner apparently pushed for an audit of one of the administration’s most outspoken critics in the Senate. In emails with a colleague, Lerner claims to have mistakenly received an invitation to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to give a speech to a non-profit group in 2012. Lerner wrote that the group offered to pay for Grassley’s wife to attend. Lerner wanted to sic investigators on Grassley, even though, as her colleague observed, the offer was not improper. How did Lerner, a then-unknown IRS division manager, end up with a speaking invitation to an Iowa Republican Senator? We can’t know because Lerner refuses to testify. What other notable Republican did she suggest be targeted? We can’t find out because the agency “recycled” the hard drives that the IRS says include her sent items from the key period of the targeting. But what we do know is: Pushing for the selective prosecution of a high-profile administration adversary in the Senate is a big deal and will change the way this case moves forward.

“We don’t want her in jail, we want the truth. We want the truth more than anything else...” – House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. on “The Kelly File” making his first-ever demand for a special prosecutor into the targeting of the president’s political enemies. Watch the full interview here.

Game changer - The good news for the administration is that this revelation makes it easier to sell the narrative that Lerner was the source of the corruption and that her removal was curative. This is fuel for the bus the White House is trying to throw Lerner under. The bad news for the administration is that the revelation of a rank, partisan abuse like this one, especially aimed at the legislative branch, may break the dam of resistance to an outside investigation. Coming on the heels of the admission that the agency had trashed evidence in the case, Democrats will feel increasing pressure to demand more than the apparently stalled internal investigation in the administration. Remember, outrage in the Senate over domestic spying didn’t get really hot until it was revealed that lawmakers themselves were targets. A special prosecutor is the only way out.

EPA admits to destroying evidence - Fox News: “Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy on Wednesday cited a similar cyber snafu during a House Oversight Committee hearing. ‘Another missing hard drive?’ Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, asked McCarthy. She responded, ‘We are having trouble acquiring the data.’ Wednesday’s hearing was called in response to allegations of rampant employee misconduct as well as a pattern of obstruction of oversight efforts by the committee.”

[Gross, dude - GovExec: “EPA Employees Told to Stop Pooping in the Hallway”]

Fox News: “House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday he plans to file suit against President Obama over his alleged abuse of executive power. ‘This is not about impeachment -- it’s about him faithfully executing the laws of this country,’ Boehner said. The speaker alleged that the president not only has ignored the law but ‘brags about it,’ decrying what he described as ‘arrogance and incompetence.’ Boehner had been weighing such a lawsuit in recent days, over concerns that Obama exceeded his constitutional authority with executive actions. Republicans have voiced frustration with Obama’s second-term ‘pen and phone’ strategy of pursuing policy changes without Congress -- particularly environmental rules via the Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans also complained about numerous unilateral changes to the implementation of ObamaCare.”

Affects immigration – Washington Examiner: “With immigration stalled in the House, President Obama is widely expected to use executive orders to change how the U.S. handles undocumented immigrants sometime this fall…. But the lawsuit gives Republicans the chance to argue that anything Obama does this fall on immigration is a potential abuse of power and remains in legal limbo.”

As Islamist militants took yet another Iraqi town today, this one home to four natural gas fields an hour’s drive from Baghdad, the Obama administration’s defense to foreign policy critics is to claim ignorance, telling members of Congress that they never saw the incursion coming because of limited intelligence. The reason? AP: “Iraq is emblematic of how a security-conscious CIA is finding it difficult to spy aggressively in dangerous environments without military protection… current and former U.S. officials say. Intelligence blind spots have left the U.S. behind the curve on fast-moving world events, they say, whether it’s disintegration in Iraq, Russia’s move into Crimea or the collapse of several governments during the Arab Spring….”

[“This is the result of indecision…which is a policy failure. This is not an intelligence failure, this is a policy failure.” – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-N.Y., in response to a question from Fox News at a press event Wednesday]

In “Want to Search That Cell Phone? Better Get a Warrant,” The Atlantic’s Garrett Epps examines Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision: “Cell phones, [Chief Justice John Roberts wrote], ‘could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.’ They carry a full history of the owner’s recent life—who the owner has emailed or texted and what was said; where the owner has been and how many times; bank records and health information; and even ‘apps for improving your romantic life.’ If the arrest exception is stretched to cover smartphones, it might permit searches that would ‘expose to the government far more than the exhaustive search of a house.’… ‘Absent more precise guidance from the founding era,’ Roberts wrote, the case must be decided by balancing the severity of the government intrusion against ‘the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.’ ‘We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime,’ Roberts wrote at the close of his opinion. ‘Privacy comes at a cost.’ It seems likely, however, that day-to-day law enforcement can take the decision in stride, as he noted: ‘Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.” Roberts wrote that that in some places ‘police officers can e-mail warrant requests to judges’ iPads [and] judges have signed such warrants and e-mailed them back to officers in less than 15 minutes.’”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41.5 percent//Disapprove – 54.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29 percent//Wrong Track – 62.5 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 42.8 percent// Republicans 41.4 percent

The 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is making new messes as she tries to clean up her comments about her and her family’s enormous post-White House wealth. Appearing on the “PBS NewsHour,” Clinton was asked about her claims that the family was “dead broke” or that their estimated $155 million haul since 2001did not leave them “truly well off.” Clinton attributed the firestorm to poor word choice: “I shouldn’t have said the five or so words that I said, but my inartful use of those few words doesn’t change who I am,” she said. But Clinton, who has made her enormous wealth from her celebrity status and close corporate connections, especially on Wall Street, remained adamant that the astonishing income came because she and her husband “have worked hard.” Clinton acknowledged that they are making an average of $12 million a year , but ‘we’ve been grateful for everything that we’ve been able to achieve, and sadly that's just not true for most Americans today.’”

Bubba’s bling - Daily Caller: “One day after Bill Clinton insisted his family’s wealth doesn’t make him or Hillary ‘out of touch’ with regular people’s economic reality, the former president found himself happily recounting the 14 expensive Swiss watches and “two rugs” he bought to hand out to friends. Clinton spoke at a Denver meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on Wednesday, where the moderator asked him about a visit he paid in April to a Detroit-area watchmaker selling ritzy Swiss watches for $550 a pop.”

‘W.J.’ or ‘Billy’? -
AP: “A musical about former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton will have its debut as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival next month. …Its creators are Australian brothers Paul and Michael Hodge. The musical features two “Bill Clinton” characters. Karl Kenzler will play W.J. Clinton; Duke LaFoon will play “Billy.” Alet Taylor will play Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Hodges’ description of their work asserts that ‘politics is show business for ugly people.’”

Defeated Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel is still mulling whether to contest Sen. Thad Cochran’s 6,373-vote win on Tuesday. Under Mississippi election law, primary voters must promise to support the same party’s nominee in the fall. Even though the provision was ruled unenforceable, McDaniel may still push onward. “If our party and our conservative movement are to co-exist, it is paramount that we ensure the sanctity of the election process is upheld,” he said in a statement. “And we will do that…we must be absolutely certain that our Republican primary was won by Republican voters.” Activists continue to support the state senator urging McDaniel to launch a write-in campaign.

Childers ready to reap benefits - Cochran’s Democratic challenger, former Rep. Travis Childers, is surely hoping for the Republican fratricide to last as long as possible, ideally ending in a write-in candidacy for the primary loser. Although many Democrats voted for Cochran Tuesday, Childers told WDAM, “I think in November, those Democrats will be back with me.”

[George Will dissects the Mississippi race in “Mississippi Republicans vote their appetite”: “McDaniel’s defeat, like many the tea party has experienced this primary season, brings that feisty faction face to face with a melancholy fact: Americans’ devotion to frugal government is frequently avowed but rarely inhibiting. If the nation’s trajectory is to be changed, this will not be done as abruptly as tea partyers wish, and it will not be done without their continued wholesome agitation.”]

Tennessee Senate hopeful Joe Carr’s first TV ad of this year will hit airwaves today. In the 30-second spot, the state senator from outside Nashville attacks incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., for an influx of illegal aliens crossing the border. “President Obama created this crisis only after Lamar Alexander voted for amnesty. He is responsible,” Carr says. “Like you, I opposed amnesty and believe in the rule of law. I’ve written and passed some of the toughest illegal immigration laws in the country.”  Carr challenges Alexander in another test of the GOP establishment in the Aug. 7 primary.

A new KSN News poll shows Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, leading against physician Milton Wolf, 56 percent to 23 percent. Wolf challenges Roberts from the right. After House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprising loss, Wolf rallied his base saying Cantor is an example of disapproval of the GOP establishment. The Kansans face-off in an Aug. 5 primary.

Conservative youth advocacy group Generation Opportunity released two new ads Wednesday attacking Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. for spending tactics that the group says are hurting younger Americans. One ad, comparing the senator’s spending to a grocery trip, is nearly identical to an ad slamming Sen. Mary Landieu, D-La. released last week. Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is challenging Udall.

Polling maven Dana Blanton writes up the latest Fox News poll: “If the congressional election were ‘held today,’ 42 percent of voters would support the Democratic candidate in their district, while 42 percent would back the Republican.  Another 13 percent aren’t sure for whom they’d cast their ballot. … One election advantage for the GOP is that 66 percent of Republicans are at least “very” interested in the midterms, while just 54 percent of Democrats feel the same. Moreover, 35 percent of Republicans are “extremely” interested compared to 24 percent of Democrats.”

Republicans have their sights set on six seats to win back control of the Senate from Democrats. So which seats are most likely to flip from blue to red? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Fox News First reader John Meyer agrees with the current list, but has his own ranking: “These are in order of likelihood: Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana.”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

[New on Fox News Radio: Recap this week’s primary results and check on what could be sleeper gubernatorial races with this week’s Balance of Power podcast.]

Wal-Mart employees called police when they saw a school bus awkwardly maneuvering around the parking lot around 5 a.m. Roy Hoover, a Wal-Mart employee, tells The (Panama City, Fla.) News Herald, “He was having a hard time parking it, like he’d never drove one before.” That’s because he hadn’t driven a bus before. He was 12-years-old and had stolen the bus. Police arrested the daring driver and charged him with two counts of grand theft and one count of felony criminal mischief, but let the record show that the boy’s driving wasn’t all bad: “From the on-board camera footage, [the boy] seemed like a skilled driver, according to Bay District School ’s chief security officer, Mike Jones. ‘You have to take a weeklong course to operate a bus like that,’ Jones said. ‘Yet at 12 he was able to drive one, and he didn’t just take it around the block.’ [The boy] made the 14-mile trek, which wends along U.S. Business 98 and over the Hathaway Bridge, without tipping off law enforcement along the way.”

“This is a historically weak recovery. The administration can come up with all the excuses it wants. You know, ‘Oh, the weather…’ As if you never have bad weather in winter. In the first term, the administration would blame everything on Bush and now it’s climate.” Charles Krauthammer on ‘Special Report with Bret Baier’ Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.