Sen. Marco Rubio said on Wednesday that he now had “even less confidence” in Attorney General Eric Holder’s ability to do his job, “in particular, when it comes to this IRS investigation.”
“The Justice Department oversees that, and I’m not sure the Justice Department is in a position to do that in an unbiased way,” the Florida Republican told Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News. “The Justice Department holds great sway over how these investigations are conducted.
“Generally, I’m reluctant to call for an independent counsel on these issues because that can be misused — but in this case, when it gets so close to what is happening in Washington, I think there’s merit in that,” Rubio added.
“We can’t forget at the end of the day that the Justice Department, because it is a political appointment, that it is politicized to some extent.”
Holder said last month that Justice would open a criminal investigation into the singling out of tea party, religious and conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service for extra scrutiny when evaluating their applications for tax-exempt status.
The tea party and conservative groups were subjected to the additional scrutiny through the 2012 election and as far back as 2010. Twenty-five such groups have since sued the IRS in federal court over the issue.
Turning his attention to Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the National Security Agency’s obtaining telephone and Internet data of millions of Americans, Rubio said that he generally opposed such broad surveillance efforts.
“No one wants to be in a position where the government just decides, ‘I’m going to go into Bill O’Reilly’s emails because I’m curious to see what he’s doing.’ And I hope that’s not the intent of this program.
“I do think there’s information that they can declassify that would allow the American people to have a little more confidence in how these important programs are run,” the senator said.
The committee is scheduled to meet in a classified session with NSA officials on Thursday.
“If they would declassify some of that information, it would give people a lot more comfort over how these programs are ultimately utilized,” Rubio said.
“But this is a tough issue: On the one hand, we have these programs that we know are effective at tracking when terrorists are communicating with people in this country. On the other hand, people have a privacy expectation — at least, they feel like they do — and they don’t want to see that violated or misused by this or a future government.
“It’s a difficult balancing act.”
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