Rep. Darrell Issa on IRS Chief's Testimony: 'One Step Shy of Perjury'

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 11:52 PM

By Todd Beamon

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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Friday said that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was "one step shy of perjury" in the testimony he gave before the panel this week on the missing emails in the agency's targeting scandal.

"He was disingenuous, which is a nice term — or, in fact, he didn't tell the whole truth, which is what I said in front of the whole committee," the California Republican told Greta Van Susteren on her Fox News program. "He's certainly way past meeting his obligation of as an officer of the court to tell the whole truth."

Issa was referring to Koskinen's testimony at a rare Monday night hearing in which he attacked "obstruction by the IRS" over emails written by former supervisor Lois Lerner that the committee wants for review.

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The Internal Revenue Service said two weeks ago that it lost a trove of Lerner's emails in a 2011 computer crash.

"I'm sick and tired of your game-playing in response to congressional oversight," Issa told Koskinen at the hearing.

The agency was found in May 2013 to have targeted tea party, conservative, and religious groups in their applications for tax-exempt status. Lerner headed the division that scrutinized the applications. The targeting occurred before the 2012 elections.

Lerner, who retired last September because of the scandal, was found in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the targeting before Issa's committee.

In his interview, Issa told Van Susteren that many of the missing emails could be recovered.

"There's two sides to every email," he said. "Many of Lois Lerner's emails went to multiple recipients. A great deal of them can still be found."

Issa described Lerner as "a criminal conspirator" — regarding both the missing emails and the targeting of the conservative groups. His committee has also subpoenaed records from Lerner's term as head of the Federal Election Commission after reports that she had engaged in similar scrutiny of conservative groups.

"We don't know who all she conspired with," Issa said, adding that both his panel and the House Ways and Means Committee have recommended that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against Lerner.

He also noted the release of emails this week by Ways and Means showing that Lerner referred Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley for a possible audit.

"She broke rules. She broke laws — and it's very clear after the Grassley revelation that this was somebody who was trying to hurt people with her actions," Issa said.

He noted that she had "sent 1.1 million records to the Department of Justice hoping to get prosecutions against" the nonprofit groups.

Issa and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio requested IRS documents in the matter earlier this month.

"It didn't always work, but she sure tried," Issa said.

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