According to a new report from The Washington Examiner, appointed special counsel Jack Smith played a key role in the Justice Department’s public integrity section getting involved in the Lois Lerner IRS controversy that was later revealed to have specifically targeted conservative charity organizations for persecution by the agency.
Smith commanded the Public Integrity Section from 2010 to early 2015, after being appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to lead the DOJ’s investigations of former President Donald Trump.
Lerner, the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Unit Director, oversaw an IRS attempt to target Tea Party groups and other conservative nonprofit organizations.
Smith’s urge for DOJ officials to contact Lerner and the IRS in order to get the DOJ engaged appeared to be the trigger for the IRS transferring reams of confidential nonprofit tax records to the FBI.
An IRS monitor and the DOJ eventually recognized the IRS committed impropriety, but not criminal wrongdoing.
Republicans later attempted but ultimately failed to appoint a special counsel to examine the IRS scandal at the time, citing Smith’s conduct as one cause.
Lerner said in May 2013 that the IRS had gone out of their way to review nonprofit groups that included phrases like “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their applications, but insisted it was not a political choice.
In 2013, the Treasury Department’s auditor reported that the IRS utilized incorrect criteria that selected Tea Party and other organizations for scrutiny.
“Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment, and institutional inertia” the DOJ stated in 2015.
In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that the DOJ had reached settlements with conservative groups that had been targeted by the IRS during the Obama administration.
The IRS was later forced to acknowledge that its actions were “wrong.”
Smith is currently investigating a series of legal claims against former President Trump and will ultimately decide himself whether or not to bring charges against him.