Attorney General Eric Holder leads the United States Department of Justice. He has no control over the Internal Revenue Service, which is housed at the Treasury Department. Yet, due to Holder’s indirect tie to an embarrassing — if not, exactly, scandalous — incident that occurred at the IRS, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggested on Thursday that Holder should be impeached and removed from office.
To explain, Cruz is upset that a Justice Department prosecutor Holder appointed to investigate accusations that the IRS targeted conservative groups when it singled out certain organizations seeking non-profit status for additional scrutiny has, at times, donated money to Democrats. Appointing this woman, according to Cruz, “mocks the rule of law.” The Texas Senator added that “when an Attorney General corrupts the Department of Justice by conducting a nakedly partisan investigation to cover up political wrongdoing that conduct by any reasonable measure constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The Constitution permits executive branch officials to be impeached and removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Cruz’s concerns that the IRS may have targeted conservatives, rather than simply using a screening method that is widely viewed as ill-considered by both political parties, would make sense — if it were still May of 2013. When news about the IRS’s procedures for approving organizations seeking non-profit status broke more than a year ago, it initially appeared that the IRS may have selected groups for additional scrutiny solely because they had words in their names — such as “Tea Party” or “patriot” — which are commonly used by conservative organizations. Later reports, however, revealed that the IRS also singled out liberal organizations with words like “progressive” and “blue” in their title as well.
Indeed, a series of documents provided to ThinkProgress under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the IRS’s list of keywords that triggered additional scrutiny “included more explicit references to progressive groups, ACORN successors, and medical marijuana organizations than to Tea Party entities.”
So Cruz wants a special prosecutor to investigate something that looked like a genuine scandal 13 months ago, but that has now been revealed as fairly run-of-the-mill incompetence. And if he doesn’t get what he wants, he thinks that the Attorney General of the United States should be impeached and cast out of office.