Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Video: 'Fox & Friends' on IG-Gate

Sorry about having to use video from Media Matters, but watch it anyway:

The "Fox & Friends" people are actually mischaracterizing the situation, as I understand it. According to my sources, Amtrak IG Fred Wiederhold decided on his own to retire, during a meeting where he presented the report from Willkie, Farr & Gallagher.

As the situation was described to me, the hostile reaction at the June 18 meeting convinced Wiederhold that Amtrak was going to continue its interference with the IG's office. So he decided to retire rather than continue butting his head against the wall. Therefore, Wiederhold wasn't forced out, as the "Fox & Friends" crew suggest, although it certainly wasn't an amicable parting.

Notice something important here: Wiederhold hasn't gone running to the media with his side of the story. Nor will he. People will be subpoenaed and will testify under oath. The truth will come out -- or else.

Think about this. Sen. Grassley has asked Amtrak to make available for interviews four staffers from the inspector general's office. If Amtrak officials have illegally interfered with the IG's work -- and this is the allegation, at least -- then it is natural to expect some CYA by those officials. But when a federal investigation is underway, run-of-the-mill CYA can very easily become perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

And the same is also true in the AmeriCorps/Walpin case and the ITC/Gwynn case. As they say in Washington, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. Which is why, of the four IG probes now underway, the "SIGTARP" case -- involving Neil Barofsky, who's still on the job as special inspector general for the TARP bailout -- probably presents the most explosive potential.

Barofsky has been scratching around on the AIG bonuses, and he's already reported that there has been all kinds of waste, fraud and abuse with the TARP bailout. As Dan Reihl was one of the first to notice, if you read between the lines, there seems to be some suspicion directed toward Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The bailout was unpopular on a bipartisan basis, so if the SIGTARP situation heats up, there will be plenty of Democrats willing to vote to hold hearings so they can grill Geithner about taxpayer cash for "Wall Street fat cats." While Attorney General Eric Holder may get some scrutiny in the AmeriCorps IG case, it's the SIGTARP case that has the most potential to send a Cabinet member under the Obama bus. And trying to lie your way out of a scandal is a very dangerous thing, when it involves a federal investigation.

But that's just speculation. These investigations are now going forward regardless of what anybody says on TV, in the MSM, or on the blogosphere. No need to hype up right-wing "Fitzmas" fantasies. Just pay attention.

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