Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, has seen the same interview transcripts as Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), documenting the interviews investigators conducted with IRS officials in Cincinnati. And with that in mind, Cummings was getting a little tired of Issa playing partisan games, releasing carefully edited, cherry-picked quotes from the transcripts in the hopes of keeping a "scandal" alive.
Indeed, Cummings has declared publicly, more than once, than if Issa didn't provide the public with all of the information -- rather than the portions Republicans found convenient -- than Cummings would feel compelled to make the disclosures himself.
Today, the Maryland Democrat and his colleagues apparently got tired of waiting. Greg Sargent has the story:
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have just released a full transcript of testimony from a key witness in the investigation of IRS targeting of conservatives -- and it appears to confirm that the initial targeting did originate with a low-level employee in the Cincinnati office.It also shows a key witness and IRS screening manager – a self-described conservative Republican -- denying any communication with the White House or senior IRS officials about the targeting.
Imagine that. Issa didn't want the public to see all of the relevant information, because the truth interfered with the preferred Republican narrative.
The documents are now online for public review. Part I (pdf) is 103 pages, Part II (pdf) is 102 pages, and both feature some redactions to protect the identities of specific individuals whose names are not relevant to the testimony.
Of particular interest were the remarks of one particular IRS official, whose interview led Cummings to argue that the entire controversy has been "solved" and it's time for the political world to "move on."
I'm referring, of course, to the self-described conservative Republican who helped manage the IRS office that "targeted" Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, and who told investigators that he -- not the White House, not the Obama campaign, not the DNC -- applied the additional scrutiny.
Given its significance, this portion of the full transcript was isolated by committee Democrats in this (pdf) five-page portion. From Greg's summary:
The manager further testified that the Tea Party groups were deliberately grouped together so that they would receive consistent treatment. "There was a lot of concerns about making sure that any cases that had, you know, similar-type activities or items included, that they would be worked by the same agent or same group," the manager testified.In the testimony, the screening manager also flatly stated he had no reason to believe there was White House involvement.
I wonder why Issa was so eager to keep this information from public view?
It's going to take some time to review the transcript in detail, but at this point, it looks like the IRS controversy, which was on shaky ground before, has almost completely fallen apart.
If, upon further review, these transcripts reinforce the perception that Issa tried to mislead the public, it's the California Republican, and not the Obama administration, that will have some explaining to do.