June 29th, 2014
10:28 AM ET
8 years ago

Lerner attorney: Client vilified by GOP out of convenience

(CNN) - The attorney for embattled former IRS official Lois Lerner said Sunday that Republicans are denigrating an innocent woman for purely political purposes.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, attorney William Taylor said it's "convenient" for the GOP to suggest that Lerner's computer crash, which destroyed documents sought by a House Committee, means something "nefarious" was going on.

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"This is election-year politics," Taylor said on "State of the Union" in his first television appearance on the controversy.

"It's convenient to have a demon that they can create and point to."

An investigation that was initially focused on whether the IRS unfairly targeted certain political groups became more convoluted last week when the agency announced the destruction of Lerner's e-mails - lost in an apparent hard drive crash.

Taylor said Lerner walked into her office one day and her computer screen was blue. Her hard drive had crashed.

"The truth is this was one of those things that happened," he said. "At the time she did everything she could to retrieve it. She reported it right away. And that's all there is to it."

Lerner, who ran the division that carried out the IRS targeting, resigned last year after the Treasury Department's inspector general found that employees working under her used "inappropriate" criteria to scrutinize certain groups, particularly those with conservative political names.

Koskinen: IRS troubles 'suspicious,' but no crime uncovered

"People who want to give money to elections and do so in a tax-free way have to submit themselves to the scrutiny of the IRS to be sure they are complying with the rules that limit political activity," Taylor said.

"If the IRS is not looking at political activity in the C4 applications, which is what this is, they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing. So it's like saying ‘They're examining us for political activity’ when that's the exact criteria they're submitting for their applications."

Since her resignation, Lerner has refused to testify at hearings, invoking her constitutional right not to do so – a move that stirred suspicion that she had something to hide.

Koskinen's donations raised questions as House GOP calls for more documents

Taylor said, however, the reason he advised his client to invoke her Fifth Amendment right was because “there was no pretense that this would be a fair process” in the investigation led by House Oversight chairman Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California.

Issa said Sunday, also in an exclusive interview to CNN, that Taylor "has said things that are not correct, or disingenuous or outright lied a number of times, it's been shown by e-mails."

"(An) attorney trying to get his client off the hook after flubbing and taking the fifth certainly will say and do a lot of things. But they're not held accountable," Issa said on "State of the Union."

Taylor wouldn’t respond specifically to Issa’s claim that he had lied, but again suggested Republicans are using his client has a political tool to gin up conservative enthusiasm ahead of the midterm elections.

Asked by Crowley if Lerner violated federal law requiring the agency to back up its communications, Taylor said his client “did exactly as she was required to do."

Another branch in the investigation, further inflaming Republican sentiment against Lerner, was the disclosure last week by Issa of e-mail exchanges showing that Lerner asked, while still on the job in 2012, whether the tax agency should investigate an issue involving Republican Sen. Charles Grassley.

E-mails: Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner queried Sen. Chuck Grassley invitation

The e-mails centered on an invitation from an unnamed group to Grassley to attend a seminar. What prompted Lerner's interest in December 2012 was whether travel expenses for Grassley's wife were included and whether that would violate income tax rules. However, it was not clear from the e-mails whether Lerner, who reached out to a co-worker, was inquiring about a potential audit of Grassley or whether she thought the IRS should look at the group. Her lawyer said she acted appropriately.

Taylor maintained his client’s innocence on all fronts, insisting that from the beginning “(Republicans’) only purpose to have her there is to vilify her.”

Lerner has received death threats against herself and her family. Taylor said she is not receiving protection.

“She has to go on living her life,” he said. “She's been made to be a villain in a way that's very, very unfair.”

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Darrell Issa • IRS • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Richard Nixon

    I had to resign because I only THOUGHT about doing what Barack Obama has actually DONE with his abuse of the IRS and terrorizing his political opponents with it.

    June 29, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. lerianis

    Have to agree with this woman's lawyer. The GOP is vilifying her because they simply do not understand that when you are talking about computers, NOTHING is permanent.

    June 29, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Michael Marshall

    This guys a moron. Most Democrats and Republicans are united on this.

    June 29, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. dean

    just vote democrat and you won't have a problem.

    June 29, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. texasnotea

    Bra,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha!!!!!!! Another gop so called "scandal" ending up for what it really was,WITCH HUNT!!!!!!

    June 29, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. morkoth

    yes, republicans are the REAL demons here,.. Kato! OJ! ITO! tell them all about who the real demons are!!

    June 29, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. jharry

    Uhh, she's the one who took the fifth.

    June 29, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. jnpa

    "The attorney for embattled former IRS official Lois Lerner said Sunday that Republicans are denigrating an innocent woman for purely political purposes."

    That's what the GOP does best and they seem to think it will win them elections. It hasn't worked so far!

    June 29, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    These groups are POLITICAL groups, not social welfare and educational groups. The IRS was usung code words as a short cut for such groups on BOTH sides of the isle to evaluate further. Another whine from the poor, poor, pitiful me, Republicans to show that they we being picked on. Boo hoooo... Poor Tea Party... The tax payers are STILL paying the bills for this political activity from BOTH sides, ALL tax payers should be outraged! Tax Enough Already?!?! What a joke... Especially when you want TAXPAYERS to foot your bills!

    June 29, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. Hector Slagg

    Talk is cheap. Lois Lerner can come before the Congress and testify. It appears Lois Lerner is another example of the Obama Administration of which is mostly a complete failure. When people think you a fool, why open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    June 29, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  11. Wade

    What? of course she is a demon! Just like he lying hypocrite dictator boss Obama!

    June 29, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. joe

    The only way this level of coverup could exist is if the information in the deleted emails pointed all the way to Obama's office. I suspect it did.

    June 29, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. cneder

    With these Demoncratics, I thought it was all about the "seriousness of the charge"!

    June 29, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. calvin

    Usual quote from defense attorney: "My client is innocent."

    June 29, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. PharmGrl

    Lerner's not a "demon."
    But she has incriminated herself in the court of public opinion by taking the fifth, and by the fact that her computer mysteriously crashed ten days after inquiry was made into targeting conservative groups.
    This is a cover up.

    June 29, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. mark

    This entire "scandal" is election year politics...this and "Benghazi" and "Bergdahl" are the republicans attempting to justify the big paychecks they are all drawing for doing absolutely nothing for the American people for all these years. This is the GOP's idea of politics – fraud, circuses, waste of taxpayer's money...and lies.

    June 29, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  17. hkirwin

    Hard drives crash, however, the only reason to destroy the hard drive after the crash was to destroy evidence. Even a fool knows this.

    June 29, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. gdnctr

    She vilified herself; no "help" was needed.-

    June 29, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    After reading the main stream media arrivals , it seems the media are the ONLY ONES that give the GOP CREDIBILITY on ANY issue , while the REST of the VOTERS give the GOP a big fat 0. I think there are going to be a lot of CANTORS in November on the GOP side and it will be WELL DESERVED!!!!!!!

    June 29, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. Thomas

    Former IRS official Lois Lerner is a registered republican ,

    The Republican improv theater " IRS and Benghazi " show .

    If you can't find answers , maybe you are the problem to begin with .

    Darrell Issa / Louie Gohmert 2016

    June 29, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. TexasVulcan

    So I am forced by the IRS to keep my tax and spending records for years, but the IRS itself somehow does not?

    When I worked at a big corporation we were told in no uncertain terms that certain items could not be destroyed. Further, even if we went out of our way to destroy such electronic records there were backups to the backups.

    It looks like the IRS is either lying or incompetent. I do not know which is worse.

    June 29, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  22. Sara

    This is complete and utter government anarchy against the citizens of this country. To target a political party, conveniently the 'opposing' party, by the way, then 'lose' two years of email evidence, because of a computer 'hard drive' crash, even though the law prescribes server backup of all emails, is beyond suspicious, it is CRIMINAL.

    Got it? Criminal. Democrat voters wouldn't stand for this if the tables were turned.

    June 29, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Yet if this attorney was representing a client and this occurred then he would be singing a different tune, he is just paid to defend his client. They play whatever side they are on at the moment and nothing more.

    June 29, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. JY

    I find it interesting how Fox and Rush and Bill and Glenn and the rest of the rightwing extremist, racist terrorist can constantly lie, mislead and propagandize to fulfil their agenda, then when someone like Dan Rather made a mistake to rush a story to 'press' they crucify.

    June 29, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. ikenelson

    "This IRS lady isn't so bad" said the lawyer.

    In other news, Hitler didn't think Franco was such a big dictator.

    June 29, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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