Nobody was surprised when Attorney General Eric Holder decided the special prosecutor requested by Sen. Ted Cruz to investigate the IRS scandal isn't needed. Why? Because Holder and his boss in the Oval Office refuse to make the same mistake that led to Richard Nixon's undoing in the Watergate scandal. Nixon allowed his attorney general to name a special prosecutor to investigate Watergate, confident that his Justice Department loyalists could contain any ensuing damage.
But Nixon miscalculated and it ended disastrously for him with the infamous Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, thus precipitating resignations from Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckleshaus. The massacre made it clear that Nixon was covering something up, prompting the public to turn against him and support his impeachment.
President Obama and Holder have done a masterful job of what Nixon could not -- containing an official corruption investigation so that it never gets to the full truth. Repeated requests, for example, from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for documents concerning illegal targeting and harassment by the IRS of hundreds of conservative and Tea Party nonprofit applicants have been denied, delayed, obfuscated or simply ignored. Testimony and depositions from key officials at the Department of Justice have been withheld. And in what is surely the piece de resistance of official cover-ups, Obama and Holder put a career Justice Department attorney who contributed thousands of dollars to the president's 2008 and 2012 campaigns in charge of the official investigation. Strictly coincidental, of course.
The Obama-Holder IRS coverup has become so blatant that Jay Sekulow, the attorney who represents 41 of the groups targeted by the tax agency, was blunt in his reaction to the decision: “An independent prosecutor -- with no political agenda -- is truly needed to uncover the origin and depth of this unconstitutional targeting scheme. By rejecting this request, the Justice Department puts politics ahead of the rule of law.”
Just as blunt was Cruz: “To date, nine months after a damning inspector general report, nobody has been indicted, many of the victims have not even been interviewed, and Lois Lerner has twice pleaded the Fifth. And yet the attorney general refuses to allow a genuine -- and impartial -- investigation. The integrity of the Department of Justice deserves better. The American people deserve better."
Sekulow and Cruz are right, of course, but being right as a matter of law isn't remotely sufficient to force Obama and Holder to stop the cover-up. They long ago made clear their willingness to do whatever they think is necessary to suppress the truth about the IRS scandal. Congress has the constitutional tools it needs to get the truth out. Funding can be withheld, presidential nominees stalled and subpoenas enforced. But Congress presently lacks a unified will. House Republicans can do none of those things if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid objects. In Monopoly, that's called a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.