The document drip in the IRS probe continued on Tuesday, with top congressional Democrats releasing new information that they said definitively shows the tax agency applied heightened scrutiny to both progressive and conservative groups.
Democrats and Republicans have engaged in a series of strategic leaks since the probe of the Internal Revenue Service began months ago.
On Tuesday, newly released internal minutes from 2010 show that “progressive” was listed alongside “tea parties” as criteria that “should be flagged for review.”
In a letter to congressional Democrats, the IRS said that other, previously undisclosed, search terms used included “ACORN successors” and “Emerge” (there is a national progressive group, Emerge America). The auditor who set off the scandal has said that tax authorities had singled out tea-party groups for extra scrutiny.
“This new information should put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS’s actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The chairman of the panel, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, is unlikely to be deterred in his probe, however. Earlier this month, Issa said he was expanding his inquiry to look into possible improper coordinate between the tax agency and the Federal Election Commission.
“How many times have Congressional Democrats now tried to declare the IRS targeting investigation over?” said Issa spokesman Frederick Hill. He said there was “no comparison” between the agency’s treatment of Emerge and tea-party groups. “The fact that Emerge was initially approved for tax exempt status, but had it revoked after its improper behavior came to light, underscores how much more stringent the IRS was with Tea Party applicants.”
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The protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline turned violent overnight as the police and National Guard sought to remove the protesters, surrounding them with assault vehicles and officers in riot gear. The law enforcement officers used pepper spray and fired bean bags for more than six hours. In response, the protesters "lit debris on fire and threw Molotov cocktails in retreat." One woman pulled out a gun and fired at officers, narrowly missing before being arrested. The protesters claim the pipeline would be constructed on land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The House has scheduled leadership votes for Nov. 15, the day after members return from their election recess. "Since mid-September, members of the House Freedom Caucus have weighed whether they should ask leadership to push back the elections so they can see how House Speaker Paul Ryan performs at the end of the year," but leaders don't seem inclined to grant their request.
Gross domestic product "expanded at a 2.9% annual clip from July through September. That’s a marked improvement from the first half of the year when the U.S. grew just barely over 1%." The robust numbers make it more likely that the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates at its next meeting.
"A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility." In a strange "coda" to the decision, Bundy's attorney Marcus Mumford was tackled and tasered by marshals in the courtroom as he argued that Bundy should be free to go.
Hillary Clinton is eyeing Vice President Joe Biden to be her secretary of state, and her campaign is trying to figure out the best way to broach the idea with Biden. Biden has a lifetime of foreign policy experience, serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; he can also put eight years as vice president on his foreign policy resume. Biden has previously stated that he would not work in a Clinton administration, so it might be a tough sell for the Clinton camp.