National News Recap for the Week of May 13, 2013

IRS SCANDAL – TARGETING THE TEA PARTY

AP_irs_tea_party_nt_130514_16x9_608The IRS scandal regarding the agency’s targeting of Tea Party groups has exploded in recent days. Since learning about the scandal, and receiving an apology from the IRS on Friday, May 10th, new revelations have emerged.

On Monday, it became apparent that the IRS was not only targeting tax-exempt filings with the name “Tea Party” on them, but also fillings with the words “patriot”, “9/12 project”, and groups who’s focus was on government spending, the constitution, education reform, and Israel.

Specific details regarding the IRS’ heightened scrutiny of such groups also emerged. The IRS asked several of the flagged groups for detailed donor information; including donor names, email addresses, and if any of their donors were running, or planning to run for office. Additionally, the IRS also requested access to the Twitter accounts, and Facebook accounts of some groups.

On Wednesday, the acting IRS commissioner, Steven Miller resigned. According to the agency, he was aware that employees were targeting conservative groups as early as May 2012. President Obama then appointed top White House budget office aide, Daniel Werfel as acting IRS commissioner, to replace Miller.

Despite Miller’s resignation, he testified to Congress on Friday. In a heated hearing to the House Ways and Means Committee, Miller appeared to rebuff attempts by Congress to delve further into the investigation. When Miller sidestepped a question by Congressman Dave Reichert, Reichert called him out stating “Your answer is a non-answer once again.”

Congressman Mike Kelly even received a standing ovation after grilling Miller during the hearing. Kelly’s most compelling moment was when he highlighted the double standard that the IRS receives, when compared to the American people. Kelly said “You could talk about how you’re a horribly run organization, if you’re on the other side of the fence, you’re not giving that excuse. And the IRS comes in, you’re not allowed to be shoddy, you’re not allowed to be run horribly, you’re not allowed to make mistakes, you’re not allowed to do one damn thing that doesn’t come in compliance, and if you do, you’re held responsible right then.”

More hearings are expected to be held within the coming days, as Congress continues to investigate this scandal that is plaguing the Obama administration.

AP SCANDAL – UNPRECEDENTED INTRUSION

eric-holder-ap-doj-phone-irs-scandal-1Another major scandal hit the Obama administration on Monday, as it became known that the Department of Justice secretly obtained phone records of the Associated Press.

On May 7, 2012, the AP released a story that revealed classified information on a CIA operation that prevented an airliner bombing near the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Shortly after the release of the story, in attempts to determine which government official, or officials leaked the information, the Department of Justice secretly gathered the AP’s phone records for more than twenty lines used by AP journalists. The Department of Justice also gathered personal phone records of at least two AP journalists.

According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice acted lawfully and with valid reason, as it acted in the interests of national security. In a press conference, Holder stated that the leak was one of the most serious that he’s ever encountered, and that it put the American people “at risk.”

The AP on the other hand strongly refuted from the start that its story put the nation’s security at risk. In a written response to the Justice Department’s claims, AP President Gary Pruitt said “We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed.”

Journalists from around the country, and across media organizations are shocked, worried, and disgusted by the Justice Department’s actions. Investigations into the matter are ongoing, and are expected to continue in the coming weeks.

KERMIT GOSNELL TRIAL – GUILTY

gosnell-guilty-01The verdict in the Kermit Gosnell murder trial was received on Monday, after ten days of deliberations by the jury. Kermit Gosnell, a 72 year old Philadelphia abortionist, was charged with four counts of first degree murder, after killing babies who were born alive at his abortion clinic. He was also charged with third degree murder, after one of his patients died of a drug overdose, where he incorrectly prescribed the wrong dosage of medication to the patient.

The verdict in the trial found Gosnell guilty of three out of the four charges of first degree murder, and not guilty on the charge of third degree murder. Instead, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the drug overdose case.

After agreeing to not appeal the jury’s decision, Gosnell no longer faces the death penalty as the punishment for his crimes. Instead, he faces up to life imprisonment for each of the first degree murder charges, and faces a sentence of up to five years for the involuntary manslaughter charge.

The sentencing phase of the Gosnell trial is scheduled to start on May 21st, where the jury will decide on the punishment of Gosnell’s convictions.

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