Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich slammed the Obama administration on Monday for the Internal Revenue Service’s political profiling of nonprofit groups.
“This is an administration which will not profile terrorists, but profiled patriots? But profiled constitutional groups?” Gingrich asked incredulously. "This is almost madness."
Gingrich said the president should “open it up totally” and “fire everyone he can legally fire,” he said on Monday’s Morning Joe.
IRS officials apologized on Friday for targeting groups with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their titles for nonprofit status audits, but senior agency leaders knew the groups were being flagged as early as 2011, according to an Associated Press report.
Some on the right have compared the issue to the Richard Nixon Watergate scandal; Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah and the ranking member of the Finance Committee, vowed a thorough investigation and compared it to "the Nixon years."
But on Monday, Carl Bernstein, one of the journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal, pushed back.
“In the Nixon White House, we heard the president of the United States on tape saying ‘Use the IRS to get back on our enemies,'” said Bernstein. “We know a lot about President Obama, and I think the idea that he would want the IRS used for retribution—we have no evidence of any such thing.”
Gingrich claimed the president’s problem is bigger than it seems, and steered the conversation to the GOP's favorite punching bag: Obamacare.
“Why would you trust the bureaucracy with your health, if you can’t trust the bureaucracy with your politics?” Gingrich said.
Bernstein pushed back against the former House speaker.
“Let’s say we have a huge problem with the IRS,” Bernstein said “There ought to be an investigation, there ought to be a criminal investigation if it’s warranted, and that’s it. But to start making these global pronouncements about where it goes and it affects Obamacare, Newt, to me, is part of the problem.”
Watch the full interview below.