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Hatch: 'Hard to Believe' Obama Unaware of IRS Targeting

Image: Hatch: 'Hard to Believe' Obama Unaware of IRS Targeting

By Todd Beamon   |   Friday, 31 May 2013 05:57 PM

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told Newsmax on Friday that “there’s not much doubt” that the targeting of tea party and conservative groups by the IRS “reached high levels in the Obama administration.”

“They claim the president didn’t know anything about it,” Hatch told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “It’s hard to believe, since people in the White House did. It’s pretty difficult to believe.

“It’s a serious set of problems. It never should have happened,” said Hatch, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the IRS. “But that’s what happens when you have partisans running the bureaucracy — and in this particular case, it’s pretty apparent that these are partisan Democrats.

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“Well, most of the bureaucracy are Democrats,” Hatch added with a chuckle, “so the question is, Can we keep them from being partisan?”

The scandal engulfing the Internal Revenue Service broadened on Friday amid news reports that the agency not only singled out groups with such words as “tea party” or “patriot” in their names for additional evaluation — but that it also investigated activists connected to such organizations.

Information on the expanded scrutiny is expected to be revealed during a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, McClatchy reports.

“It’s very surprising because the IRS is really one of the most chilling organizations in government,” Hatch told Newsmax. “Everybody’s afraid of the IRS, afraid of being unjustly accused of something.

“It’s a chilling experience to have the IRS taking sides in anything. The IRS is supposed to be totally above any kind of politics.

“Unfortunately, it looks to us as though not only have they not been above politics, they’ve done some things that really are suspect and are just plain wrong — and probably illegal — but we’ve got to get all the facts before we can draw all of those conclusions,” Hatch said.

The senior senator said that the IRS failed to respond on Friday to a six-page letter from the Finance Committee seeking specific information on the targeting scandal. He said he wanted to see how the committee’s investigation concluded before calling for a special prosecutor.

“It’s bothering me, because you want your administration — whether it’s Republican or Democrat — you want it to be above politics,” he told Newsmax. “You want it to be above unethical conduct. You certainly want it to be above illegal conduct.”

Hatch noted how Lois Lerner last week invoked her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination when she refused to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the scandal.

Lerner, who oversaw the division linked to the targeting, has since been replaced and put on administrative leave with pay.

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“She had every right to do so,” Hatch said, referring to Lerner’s taking the fifth. “But it raises questions in anybody’s mind: Are there things being covered up here? As far as I can see, it looks like there very may well be.”

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Sen. Orrin Hatch tells Newsmax "there's not much doubt" that targeting of tea party and conservative groups by the IRS "reached high levels in the Obama administration."

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