The search for a smoking gun in the Internal Revenue Service scandal took another step forward Thursday, when 17 House Republicans sent a letter to the attorney general requesting to interview a key Department of Justice official.
Led by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the GOP lawmakers want Richard Pilger, head of the Department of Justice’s election crimes branch, to explain an email he sent to then-IRS official Lois Lerner on May 8, 2013, about potential prosecutions, according to The Hill.
The letter came after the release last week of documents obtained by Judicial Watch, one of which quotes Pilger as writing an email, “I have been asked to run something by you.”
Republicans want to know who at the Justice Department wanted Pilger to meet with Lerner, who was then serving as director of the agency’s Exempt Organizations Division. GOP leaders believe Democrats were pressuring the IRS to pursue conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status and to prosecute those involved in political activities.
Lerner was placed on leave and then retired after a tea party-led brouhaha erupted. She has since been cited for contempt of Congress and is at the center of investigations into her role in the scandal.