The House voted Wednesday to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official who is the focus of multiple investigations into whether the agency targeted President Obama’s opponents. The vote gives a politically charged issue new prominence in an election year.
In a contentious debate before the vote, Republicans made allegations of a Watergate-style inside job to cover up high crimes that helped steal a presidential election. Democrats invoked former Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and delusions of widespread conspiracy.
Republicans spent much of the day laying out a case for why the Obama administration was politically corrupt and, by extension, why Democrats could not be trusted with power in Washington.
Republicans focused on Ms. Lerner’s refusal to answer questions before Congress in May 2013. “The only route to the truth is through the House of Representatives and compelling Ms. Lerner to answer our questions,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio.
The House was also expected to formally approve a resolution to establish a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Through multiple congressional investigations in both chambers, Republicans have sought to link President Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to a politically motivated effort to obscure what really happened in Benghazi when the American ambassador to Libya and three others were killed.
At the same time, parallel investigations on Capitol Hill have tried to show that the president and his aides used the I.R.S. to persecute Tea Party groups in the hopes of muting their political effectiveness during the 2012 elections.
Both series of investigations point at a sinister motive by the White House: to cover up as much as possible so that Mr. Obama would not lose his re-election bid.
SOURCE: JEREMY W. PETERS
The New York Times