Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee, last week unveiled excerpts from
interviews showing that a Cincinnati IRS manager flagged the first tea
party group for extra scrutiny and that an Ohio agent created the
initial search criteria for filtering other cases.
In a letter to committee chairman Darrell Issa
(R-Calif.) on Thursday, Cummings challenged Issa’s unilateral
disclosures and asked him to account for every line of the interviews
that he wants “withheld from the American people.” He requested a
response by Monday. Otherwise, he would release the transcripts himself.
Darrell "Grand Theft Auto" Issa failed to respond. Big mistake. Elijah Cummings has always been a man of his word.
Today, Cummings released the transcripts. Darrell "Grand Theft Auto" Issa just got pantsed. Breaking: Full House committee transcripts shed new light on genesis of IRS targeting:
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have just released a full
transcript of testimony from a key witness in the investigation of IRS
targeting of conservatives — and it appears to confirm that the
initial targeting did originate with a low-level employee in the
It also shows a key witness and IRS screening manager – a self
described conservative Republican — denying any communication with the
White House or senior IRS officials about the targeting.
The ranking Dem on the committee, Elijah Cummings, has promised that
the account provided by the witness — the IRS manager in Cincinnati who
supervised the screeners of applications for tax exempt status, the
self-described conservative Republican — would undercut Committee
chairman Darrell Issa’s suggestion that the decision to target
conservative groups had originated in Washington.
Cummings released the full transcript today in two parts,
making it initially available to a select group of reporters, with
redactions of names of individuals, and accompanied it with a letter to
Issa explaining his decision, in which Cummings concludes that the
transcript “debunks conspiracy theories about how the IRS first started
reviewing these cases.”
This comes after Cummings had previously insisted Issa release the full
transcript himself, arguing it would show that the Republican chairman’s
claims of White House involvement are false, and that Issa’s own selective release of testimony was misleading the public.
* * *
* * *
In the letter to Issa, Cummings says the full transcripts exonerate
the White House. Cummings also allows that Washington officials played a
role in the story, but only in the sense that they were informed about
This interview transcript provides a detailed first-hand
account of how these practices first originated, and it debunks
conspiracy theories about how the IRS first started reviewing these
cases. Answering questions from Committee staff for more than five
hours, this official — who identified himself as a “conservative
Republican” — denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the
White House to take these actions or that they were politically
motivated. Instead, the Screening Group Manager explained that the very
first case at issue in this investigation was initially flagged by one
of his own screeners in February 2010. […]
To be clear, I am not suggesting that IRS employees in Washington,
D.C. played no role in these activities. For example, the Inspector
General has already reported that Lois Lerner, the Director of Exempt
Organizations at the IRS, became aware of the use of inappropriate
criteria in 2011. The Inspector General also identified a document
called a “Be on The Lookout,” or BOLO, that directed IRS employees in
Cincinnati to send these applications to a specific group within the
Cincinnati office that was coordinating with IRS employees in the Exempt
Organizations Technical Unit in Washington, D.C. According to the
Inspector General, after Ms. Lerner learned of the terms used by the
screeners, she immediately ordered a halt to the use of these terms,
resulting in a change to the BOLO in July 2011 to apply to all
organizations “involved with political, lobbying, or advocacy for
exemption under 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4).”
These facts are a far cry from accusations of a conspiracy
orchestrated by the White House to target the President’s political
enemies. At this point in the investigation, not one witness who has
appeared before the Committee has identified any involvement by any
White House officials in the identification or screening of Tea Party
applicants for tax exempt status, and the Committee has obtained no
documents indicating any such involvement.
This bogus IRS scandal is over. The only "scandals" here are that a guy with a criminal background is the chairman of the House oversight committee, and that political organizations were ever given 501(c)(4) status to which they are not entitled by law by the IRS.
UPDATE: Steve Benen makes an excellent point. Issa should be answering, not asking, more questions:
[A]t this point, I'd like to see Darrell Issa stop asking questions and start answering them.
For example, did Issa try to deliberately mislead news organizations
and the public with selectively edited portions of information he knew
to be incomplete?
Did Issa violate congressional ethics rules by
using his chairmanship to cherry-pick misleading quotes from official
Did Issa act alone or did he coordinate his activities with others?
How much public money has Issa spent as part of these endeavors? How much more does he intend to spend going forward?
Remember, we've seen controversies like this before. In 1998, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee shared misleading excerpts from official transcripts
with reporters in the hopes of creating a political controversy.
Indeed, this came directly from the office of the committee's
then-chairman, Dan Burton. When the deception came to light, Burton was
forced to accept the resignation of one of his top investigators of
suspected wrongdoing in the Clinton White House.
investigator's name was David Bossie — who went on to form a little
group known as Citizens United. You might have heard of it.)
At first blush, it looks like Issa pulled a very similar stunt. Will there be similar consequences?