Outgoing US attorney hasn’t acted on Lerner contempt charge

Greg Nash

Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia appointed by President Obama and set to step down next month, has not acted on a contempt of Congress charge for former IRS official Lois Lerner. 

Machen, who announced at the beginning of the week he’d step down April 1 to return to private practice, has not referred Lerner’s case to a grand jury. Her contempt citation for not testifying at two hearings has been in Machen’s hands since May 2014. 

{mosads}During Machen’s five-year tenure as a top prosecutor, the largest U.S. Attorney’s Office was dominated by cases related to financial fraud, national security and public corruption. 

His office prosecuted dozens of federal and local D.C. officials, including securing felony guilty pleas from three former D.C. council members.

But unless he acts within the next two weeks, Machen will leave without taking action in the case of Lerner, who directed the IRS division that handled applications for tax-exempt status.

“Under Lois Lerner’s direction, the IRS became a political tool used to systematically target and undermine Americans’ First Amendment rights,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who accused Machen of using “his own post for political ends” by not referring the case to a grand jury for months “as he is legally bound to do.”
“Hopefully his replacement will do what’s right and allow a grand jury to do its work. The American people deserve to know the truth about the IRS targeting scandal, and Lois Lerner’s testimony is key to uncovering that truth,” Jordan added in a statement to The Hill.

After Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right at a pair of House Oversight Committee hearings, Machen’s office said last year, “We will carefully review the report from the speaker of the House and take whatever action is appropriate.”

The Obama administration has also not publicly released hundreds of documents related to the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups.

Attorney General Eric Holder remarked on Machen’s tenure on Monday, praising his “outstanding results” and “inspiring service.”

“Ron Machen has distinguished himself as a skilled leader, a devoted public servant, and a forceful champion of justice on behalf of the American people,” said Holder, who himself is set to step down pending the Senate’s confirmation of Loretta Lynch, who President Obama nominated to replace him.

“Throughout his remarkable tenure, Ron has applied his boundless talent and consummate judgment to protect the safety and security of all Americans in cases involving violent crime, national security threats, and public corruption,” Holder said. 

The Department of Justice did not return a request for comment.

Tags Eric Holder IRS Jim Jordan Lois Lerner Ronald Machen
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