WASHINGTON (WNEW) — Sen. Ted Cruz said Attorney General Eric Holder should be impeached if he doesn’t indict former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, who is linked to the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.
Speaking on Sean Hannity’s radio program Thursday, the Texas Republican labeled Holder the “most partisan attorney general the country has ever had,” and added that Holder should be impeached for “defying Congress and the rule of law.” Cruz cited the attorney general’s refusal to indict anyone in the months since the inspector general found that conservative and Tea Party groups were singled out for tax purposes.
The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee voted 21-12 Thursday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions regarding the targeting of conservative groups.
Cruz noted that while he was “very pleased” that Lerner is being held in contempt by the House Oversight Committee, he said the Justice Department has done little else to investigate the case because of political reasons.
Cruz extended his criticism of Holder to other top Democrats, accusing the Obama administration of appointing a Democrat tied to the president’s campaign to head the IRS investigation of conservative targeting. Cruz said President Barack Obama has exhibited a “breathtaking … pattern of lawlessness,” and said there has never been a president who so “consistently ignores the law and brazenly defies the law.”
The comments from Cruz follow a series of shots taken at Holder this week from House Republicans, with one Texas Republican even refusing to question Holder because he was held in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents from the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal in the past. Rep. Blake Farenthold said that any other American outside of Holder “would be in jail” should they fail to comply with a Justice Department subpoena.
Another Texas Republican congressman, Rep. Louie Gohmert, engaged in yet another tense exchange with a visibly angered Holder at a House hearing on Tuesday, accusing the attorney general of thinking “contempt is not a big deal.”
And this is not Cruz and Holder’s first quarrel over the IRS scandal.
In a January Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Cruz told Holder it was “astonishing” that so little had been done to investigate or indict anyone in the wake of the inspector general’s findings of improper targeting of the conservative-leaning organizations.
“In the 280 days since that inspector general report, nobody has been indicted,” Cruz said at the January hearing. “Not a single person. In the 280 days since that inspector general report, it’s been publicly reported that no indictments are planned. Today in this hearing, you were unwilling to answer a question whether even a single victim of targeting has been interviewed.”
As Cruz accused Holder of playing politics with the investigation, Holder denied any political angle.
“The characterization of this lawyer as the lead lawyer on the case is not correct,” Holder said in January, adding that “I don’t know anything about the political activities of any of the people who are involved in this investigation.”
Late last month, Holder declined to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, saying that Cruz’s January request for a new appointment is “not warranted” because the case does not present any political conflict of interest.