Cummings Releases Transcripts of IRS Interviews

Image: Cummings Releases Transcripts of IRS Interviews

Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 11:40 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

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Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, defied Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and released the full transcript of an interview Congress conducted with an IRS manager that Cummings said shows the agency did not intentionally target conservative groups, the Hill reports.

Cummings’ move escalated an already testy relationship between himself and Issa, who had previously warned Democrats it would be “reckless” to release a full transcript.

Issa said releasing a full transcript would be seen as a ploy by Democrats to end the Internal Revenue Service investigation by providing a “roadmap” for other officials who might be interviewed in the future.

“Americans who think Congress should investigate IRS misconduct should be outraged by Mr. Cummings’s efforts to obstruct needed oversight,” Issa said after the transcripts were released.

Cummings, who had released bits and pieces of the interview last week, shot back at Issa, accusing him of picking and choosing partial transcripts for release to the media in an effort to cast the Obama administration in a bad light..

“I got sort of tired ... of parts of transcripts being leaked by our chairman,” Cummings said during an interview on MSNBC.

“All I want to do is make sure the American people have the full story.”

Cummings said he released the full transcript because Republicans have been sitting on documents that proved no high-ranking conspiracy existed to scrutinize Tea Party groups.

The Washington Post reports that the IRS manager, who was based in Cincinnati, describes himself as a “conservative Republican.”

The manager, who has been identified as John Shafer, told congressional investigators that he requested assistance from Washington IRS officials on a tea party case on Feb. 25, 2010, the same date listed in an inspector general’s report as the genesis of the IRS’s targeting efforts.

Shafer also confirmed that an IRS screener from his office developed the controversial search criteria used by the agency to identify groups for extra scrutiny.

“These facts are a far cry from accusations of a conspiracy orchestrated by the White House to target the president’s political enemies,” Cummings said in a letter to Issa.

Issa was having none of it.

“After unsuccessfully trying to convince the American people that IRS officials in Washington did not play a role in inappropriate scrutiny of tea party groups and declaring on national television that the case of IRS targeting was ‘solved’ and Congress should ‘move on,’ this looks like flailing,” Issa said of Cummings’ decision to release the full transcript.

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