This column by ACRU Policy Board Member J. Christian Adams was published April 3, 2015 at PJ Media.
Lois Lerner has dodged another bullet, this time courtesy of the Justice Department. United States Attorney Ronald Machen announced that Lerner will not be prosecuted for being found in contempt of Congress. That’s hardly a surprise from Eric Holder’s Justice Department — a Department which, these days, specializes in protecting friends and attacking enemies.
But once upon a time, the Department of Justice took contempt of Congress seriously, as we shall see.
In the meantime, Republicans in Congress have vowed to utilize the sternest of measures against the Department’s refusal to prosecute Lerner. That means more angry press statements.
Machen said Lerner preserved her Fifth Amendment rights when she refused to testify to the House, even though she first made a long statement proclaiming her innocence. Conveniently, she did not allow herself to be cross-examined about her statement.
The Fifth Amendment means you can keep your mouth shut. It doesn’t mean you can keep your mouth shut except when you are professing your innocence. Lerner got the good without the bad, which was precisely her plan.
The entire IRS scandal can be understood very simply as a reaction to Citizens United, the case where the Supreme Court defended free speech rights and allowed Americans to talk about issues important to them. Obama and the Left hate free speech, and that’s why he used the 2010 State of the Union to mau-mau the Supreme Court that was assembled before him.
You may remember that Justice Samuel Alito responded just like Representative Joe Wilson did in another State of the Union address, though Alito didn’t use words.
The House of Representatives found Lerner in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to testify and answer questions, even about her statement. Naturally, this finding will serve primarily to increase Lerner’s status among the fringe interests that have taken over the Democrat party.
In another era, Lerner would be a pariah even to Democrats.
Speaking of another era, Americans might rediscover the saga of Gerhart Eisler. If you watch movies like Jim Carrey’s The Majestic, you might think people like Eisler didn’t exist.
Eisler was the real deal — a genuine Soviet agent working inside the United States with the full support of Hollywood leftists.
According to Allan Ryskind in Hollywood Traitors (Regnery 2015), Eisler was a Comintern Agent trained by the Soviets to “capture a city… seize the most vital means of communication, lighting, water supply and… food.” Eisler was inside the United States to alter the direction of the United States.
But to Hollywood, that only made him a hero.
When the House of Representatives subpoenaed Eisler to testify in 1947, Eisler showed up to his hearing and behaved a lot like Lois Lerner.
Eisler, like Lerner, wanted to read a statement professing his innocence, but didn’t want to answer any questions. Hollywood Traitors details the drama in Congress:
Before he was to be sworn in, he demanded to be allowed to read a three-minute statement. “I came here as a political prisoner,” he asserted. “I want to make a few remarks, only three minutes before I am sworn in, and answer your questions.”
The House had the good sense in 1947 that it did not have with Lerner: it conditioned reading a statement on first answering questions.
Nor was the House so timid in 1947 with a witness who showed such contempt. Ryskind:
As the guards led him away, Eisler’s attorney left on the press table not the short, three minute statement he had said he wanted to make but a twenty-page mimeographed screed that, according to the New York Times account, was a disputatious paper, making virtually no references to the evidence…. It was at this point that HUAC had him cited for contempt.
Yes, Congress has powers far beyond sternly worded statements.
Like Lerner, Eisler attacked the House committee itself. Also like Lerner, the House of Representatives voted to hold this Soviet agent in contempt for refusing to testify about his activities in the United States.
Unlike Lerner, Eisler was indicted by the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress.
Hollywood rallied to his defense. “Hollywood’s radical writers stubbornly stuck with this international revolutionary, and Eisler would return the favor,” notes Hollywood Traitors.
Soon thereafter, ten Hollywood communist writers would also be found in contempt of Congress for similar behavior when called to testify. Organized communists returned the favor to them, holding rallies in New York City for the indicted Hollywood screenwriters.
Like Eisler, and unlike Lerner, the screenwriters were indicted by the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. All were convicted by a jury.
Eisler escaped justice by stowing away on Polish ship. Removing any doubt about who was correct — either Hollywood or the House Un-American Affairs Committee — Eisler made his way back to communist East Germany and became chief of the information office for the German communist government.
United States Attorney Machen’s decision not to prosecute Lerner means we will learn less about IRS abuse of Americans. That decision will only promote more abuse. There was a time when the United States Department of Justice didn’t aid the lawless, and didn’t provide sanctuary for those who show contempt for American institutions.