President Barack Obama is "not a very trustworthy fellow," in light of his claim there wasn't a "smidgen of corruption" in the Internal Revenue Service scandal and the revelation Thursday of an email chain by agency officials that pointed to a strategy to target conservative groups, Sen. Lindsey Graham said.
"I hate to say this about the president but he's not a very trustworthy fellow when it comes to scandals in his own backyard," the South Carolina Republican told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" Thursday.
Jay Sekulow, attorney for 41 targeted conservative groups, testified during a hearing about the IRS scandal on Capitol Hill Thursday. He revealed an email among IRS officials outlining a strategy for applicants seeking nonprofit status. According to Sekulow, IRS employees wrote they would work "off plan to devise rules to curtail the activities of 501C-4 organizations."
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The email chain was important, Graham indicated, because it showed targeting by the IRS was not limited to a "rogue" group of employees in Cincinnati, as the administration had maintained.
"Now you have this e-mail chain talking about a plan to go after people," Graham said. "I hope people are beginning to put the puzzle together that President Obama himself is not a very reliable person to talk to about mistakes on his watch."
Graham maintained if that email chain "doesn't wake up the Justice Department to criminal activity, nothing will."
"You've got interaction between government officials in charge of overseeing these tax-exempt groups that are talking about a strategy. And, to me, that lends itself to a conspiracy between people in Cincinnati and other places," he said.
Graham explained that was why former IRS official Lois Lerner pled the Fifth Amendment when testifying before a House committee in May on the issue.
"That is why she took the Fifth Amendment, because she has literally exposed herself to illegal behavior here," he said.
President Obama repeatedly has promised that his administration would get to the bottom of scandals, including the IRS activity and the bombing of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Graham dismissed that by saying of the president that the bottom was "very shallow in his world."
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