Issa claims tea party targeting probably directed from Washington
The Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, told CNN that interviews committee staff conducted with low level IRS employees at the Cincinnati office pointed to direction for the IRS Washington office.
"This is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters and we're getting to proving it," Issa said Sunday morning on CNN's "State of the Union."
The top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, rejected Issa's claims, accusing him of "lobbing unsubstantiated conclusions on national television for political reasons."
"So far, no witnesses who have appeared before the committee have identified any IRS official in Washington, D.C. who directed employees in Cincinnati to use 'tea party' or similar terms to screen applicants for extra scrutiny," Cummings said in a statement.
'I BELIEVE SO'
Committee Democrats did not receive last week's full interview transcripts until late Sunday, and were frustrated by Issa's move to first post excerpts online, a Democratic committee aide told Reuters on Sunday.
This week, the committee is scheduled to interview two more-senior IRS employees from Cincinnati, committee aides said.
One of the individuals interviewed last week, a low-level, male IRS employee, when asked by a committee investigator about whether Tea Party scrutiny "emanated from Washington," he said: "I believe so," according to the transcript excerpts.
A more senior female IRS employee, who handled the Tea Party portfolio, said there was "micromanagement" from Washington.
"I was taking all my direction" from the exempt-organization office in Washington, the employee said, according to the transcript excerpts.
This individual asked to be transferred off the Tea Party portfolio.
Well, at least someone at the IRS has a conscience. "Following orders" or not, this female employee knew full well the implications of what she was doing. And as I've pointed out previously, one would have to be brain dead not to realize the ramifications of a targeting program that went after the president's enemies.
The revelations from Cincinnati staffers raises the question; why didn't the IG report include this information? In fact, the report blamed a couple of low level staffers for the targeting program but to date, we don't have the name of anyone who actually proposed the program in the first place. Why not? Unless someone is lying, those "low level" employees were reporting directly to people in Washington. Or, at the very least, people who may have told the IG they had no knowledge of the targeting program, were on top of it from day one.
Clearly, the IG report is in error - or it's incomplete. Time to recall Mr. George, the department's inspector general, and question him a lot more closely on the huge gaps that are emerging the more we examine what happened, who did it, and who ordered it.