On "Fox News Sunday," Bill Kristol and Mary Matalin urged their Republican allies to keep their eye on the ball: the right shouldn't complain about the NSA revelations, they said, but should instead remain focused on the IRS controversy.
There is, however, one serious problem with this advice: the IRS controversy is quickly unraveling.
A self-described conservative Republican who is a manager in the Internal Revenue Service office that targeted tea party groups told investigators that he, not the White House, set the review in motion, the top Democrat on the House watchdog committee said Sunday.Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released a partial transcript of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform interview with the unnamed manager in the IRS' Cincinnati office. In it, the employee said the extra scrutiny for tea party groups' tax exempt status was an effort to be consistent in reviewing applications and not driven by politics."He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way to what's showing that the White House was not involved in this," Cummings said.
Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, added, "Based upon everything I've seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on, to be frank with you."
You'll recall that Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released carefully edited partial transcripts of interviews with IRS employees, in the hopes keeping interest in the story alive. Asked to release full transcripts, so the public could see the context of the exchanges, Issa refused.
And now we're starting to get a batter sense as to why Issa preferred to keep all of the facts out of the public light.
Cummings has seen the interviews, and has seen the conservative Republican official in the IRS explain that allegations of White House wrongdoing are baseless, which only reinforces the impression that this "scandal" is quickly turning into a nothingburger.
For the record, neither Cummings nor Issa have released the transcripts of the interviews with the IRS employees, but unlike Issa, Cummings is eager to do so. Indeed, the Maryland Democrat said yesterday he will release the full transcripts to the media within the week unless Issa makes the disclosures himself.