IRS cover-up is worse than original scandal

Internal Revenue Service officials finally are being called to account in court. Sometime during the next several days, they will have to explain to a federal judge how they “lost” a massive number of email messages sought for a congressional investigation.

It is about time the IRS scandal moved out of the halls of Congress and stories in the news media and into court. Despite illegal action in harassing conservative organizations, no one at the IRS has been punished.

Many of those guilty of crimes may have thought failure by congressional investigators to obtain many emails involved in the scandal would get them off the hook. The messages in question were to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who headed the division involved in the harassment. Agency officials insist the emails were lost because Lerner’s computer hard drive crashed and there was no backup for her messages.

It is that contention U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, in Washington, wants explained under oath.

But Sullivan is not acting in a case brought by the Justice Department. He is sitting in a civil lawsuit brought by the Judicial Watch organization.

That failing by the Justice Department – which clearly is covering for political operatives in the IRS – is, if anything, a more disturbing scandal than the tax agency’s misdeeds.

The Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder, is supposed to be the nation’s chief law enforcement agency. During President Barack Obama’s administration, it has become a political arm of the White House.

That, too, should be the subject of a federal court inquiry.