WASHINGTON -- Top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are accusing the Department of Justice of failing to investigate the IRS's targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups.
"Despite the administration's stated commitment to its investigation, the facts and recent events have demonstrated repeatedly that the administration's real commitment is to slow-walk this investigation and undermine congressional efforts to find the truth," committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in his opening statement at a hearing Wednesday.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice was one of three legal experts testifying at the hearing. The ACLJ is representing 41 conservative and Tea Party groups targeted by the tax agency.
Sekulow stressed the need for the U.S. attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor because the Justice Department is itself compromised.
Is the Justice Department colluding with the IRS? The ACLJ's Jay Sekulow answered that question and more on The 700 Club, July 31.
Sekulow then cited evidence that Justice Dept. was also targeting conservative groups right along with the IRS.
"We have an email that shows the Department of Justice was basically in collusion with the IRS to manufacture criminal cases against our clients with no evidence of anything," Sekulow told lawmakers. "And yet they were willing to proceed in that regard, to actually bring criminal cases."
But Democratic lawmakers complained that dozens of hearings on the IRS targeting have failed to uncover anything that would justify GOP calls for a special prosecutor.
"The committees have not uncovered one shred of evidence to suggest the involvement of senior officials from the Department of Justice, the Department of Treasury or the White House itself," Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., said.
The attorney general usually only appoints a special prosecutor when senior government officials have been accused of wrongdoing.
University of Baltimore School of Law Professor Charles Tiefer backed up Conyers, saying GOP calls for a special prosecutor will not be heeded.
"The effort here today is about as realistic as a fishing expedition for the Loch Ness monster," Tiefer quipped.
But Sekulow again pointed to evidence he says links the Justice Department to suspected wrongdoing against conservative groups, and said that's the reason the agency needs to recuse itself.
"Having the Department of Justice investigate itself when they may well have violated the criminal code by violating civil rights is absurd," Sekulow said. "And they should appoint a special counsel. If there's ever a need for a special counsel, this is that example."
Meanwhile, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., denied Wednesday's hearing was a waste of time, saying the issue at the heart of it is one of profound significance: whether Americans can trust their own government to do right by them and submit to the rule of law.
"If indeed the IRS is guilty of using the power of the federal government to discriminate against people on the basis of political motivation, then the entire rule of law here is at stake," Franks warned.
CBN News' Mark Martin spoke with ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow about the scandal and the challenge to get answers below:
Adding fuel to the fire are newly-discovered emails by Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the heart of the investigation, showing her own apparent disdain for conservatives.
In those missives, she called some of them "crazies" and other disparaging names. She also suggested they would be more likely to bring down America than foreign terrorists would be.
Sekulow said Lerner's emails show a government where bureaucrats are out of control.
"That's why they're able to put out emails with these kind of nasty comments," Sekulow said. "Who would even think about writing an email like that on a government computer? And yet they do it with impunity."