The transcripts Issa doesn’t want to share

The transcripts Issa doesn't want to share
The transcripts Issa doesn't want to share
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Still hoping to uncover an elusive White House scandal, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has scheduled more IRS-related hearings for Thursday, and published an interesting press release late yesterday afternoon.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) revealed new testimony from IRS employees in Cincinnati involved with the IRS’s political targeting today on CNN’s State of the Union.

The Committee released excerpts from bipartisan transcribed interviews between Committee Investigators and Cincinnati IRS employees. In these interviews Cincinnati IRS employees reject the White House’s claim that the targeting was merely work of “rogue” agents and say targeting of conservative political groups came from Washington, D.C.

“As late as last week, the administration was still trying to say the [IRS targeting scandal] was from a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is that they were directly being ordered from Washington,” Issa told CNN.

In theory, this could be a noteworthy development. There are transcriptions between Issa’s hand-picked investigators and the IRS employees in Cincinnati, and according to the committee chairman, they point to “Washington” involvement. In what capacity? We don’t know, but the point is to pique one’s interest.

OK, but what did the IRS employees say, exactly? Well, we don’t know that, either – Issa has seen the full transcripts, but he’s only willing to release portions that he and his staff have edited and excerpted. If Issa had the goods, why wouldn’t he drop the political bomb and reap the benefits? I suspect he would.

Indeed, if you read through the published excerpts, you’ll see plenty of exchanges between Republican investigators and IRS employees. What you won’t see are the exchanges between Democratic investigators and the same IRS employees – Q&A that seems quite relevant in providing context.

We’ve seen this schtick before, and it’s never turned out well for Issa.

A month ago, the California Republican thought he had a blockbuster hearing lined up on Benghazi; he leaked edited excerpts; and his team made movie posters to promote the event. And what happened? The hearing was a dud and the “scandal” faded away.

He’s back for another round, and doing his best to generate some degree of interest in another congressional spectacle. He’s calling Jay Carney a “liar” for no apparent reason; he’s talking about what’s in his “gut” rather than what he can prove; and releasing edited excerpts that aren’t quite what they appear to be.

[T]wo Democratic congressional sources involved in the IRS investigation told CNN’s Dana Bash that Issa’s characterization of the interviews is misleading.

Their impression from the Cincinnati employees was that the Washington connection the employees were referring to were tax attorney specialists. These individuals answer questions from the tax-exempt division in Ohio about what level of political activity is acceptable for 501(c)(4) status, the sources said.

So when Issa refers to “Washington,” he wants you to think “White House.” The truth is more mundane, and not at all scandalous.

A couple of years ago, Issa conceded, “Our committee, unfortunately does have a reputation for jumping to the end result.”

Ya don’t say.

Darrell Issa

The transcripts Issa doesn't want to share