Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus Thursday called the IRS targeting scandal "political warfare gone amok" and charged that there were elements of "lawlessness" and criminality involved in the effort to single out conservative groups for tougher scrutiny.
In an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, Priebus said it was too early in the investigation to determine if an impeachable offense had been committed by President Barack Obama. But he said there appears to be at least some evidence of "political warfare gone amok on behalf of the administration."
"I'm entitled to an opinion that this is political guerrilla warfare and it is lawlessness, but to the extent how far it goes and how far up it goes, the evidence has to come," he added.
Priebus cited multiple inconsistencies in the stories coming from the White House about who knew what and when about the scandal as a real cause for concern and a deeper investigation.
"Clearly the administration is more involved and has more knowledge of this than they originally put out there for the public," he said.
Priebus also said the scandal casts Obama in a bad light whether or not he knew anything about it.
"Either, at best for him, he's totally out of control and doesn't know what's going on, which is a problem," Priebus said. "Or he actually knew it was going on, or people so close to him knew it was going on, and they were protecting him the entire time."
The GOP chairman also said that IRS official Lois Lerner's refusal to testify before Congress Wednesday by pleading the Fifth Amendment implies there are "criminal aspects" to the agency's targeting of conservative groups.
"I don't think that this Lois Lerner did herself, or the scandal, any favors by pleading the Fifth Amendment," Priebus said, adding that her action "implies there are some criminal aspects of this investigation.
"You don’t need to plead the Fifth if you have done nothing wrong and you've come forward."
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