Democrat: IRS Testimony Shows No White House Involvement

by
Reuters
A conservative Republican overseeing Internal Revenue Service screeners in Cincinnati told congressional investigators that he does not believe the White House was behind IRS scrutiny of conservative groups, a leading Democratic lawmaker said on Sunday.

internal reserve service

* Cummings says IRS case is solved, vows transcript release

* Issa dismisses IRS mgr's comments, says probe to continue

A conservative Republican overseeing Internal Revenue Service screeners in Cincinnati told congressional investigators that he does not believe the White House was behind IRS scrutiny of conservative groups, a leading Democratic lawmaker said on Sunday.

Representative Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is conducting the probe, said excepts of the IRS manager's interview with investigators shows the agency set aside "Tea Party" and "patriot" groups to ensure that treatment of their applications for tax-exempt status was consistent.

"Very significant," Cummings told CNN's "State of the Union" program. "He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way toward showing that the White House was not involved in this."

"Based upon everything I've seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on," he added.

The Maryland Democrat also said he would release a full transcript of the committee's interviews with all IRS officials by the end of this week, if the panel's Republican chairman, Representative Darrell Issa, does not.

But Issa vowed to press ahead with the investigation and said the IRS manager's comments "did not provide anything enlightening or contradict other witness accounts."

"I strongly disagree with ... Cummings' assertion that we know everything we need to know about inappropriate targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS," the California Republican said in a statement released by his office.

Revelations that the tax agency set aside conservative groups for scrutiny has raised a political furor over the past month, leading President Barack Obama to fire the IRS commissioner. The House oversight panel and the FBI have launched investigations.

Republicans have raised questions about whether the scrutiny was directed politically at Obama's opponents and have sought evidence of any White House involvement. But Cummings said congressional investigators now know what happened.

According to CNN, investigators asked the Cincinnati manager if he believed the decision to centralize the screening of Tea Party applications was intended to target "the president's political enemies."

"I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do, other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development," the manager answered, according to CNN.

Asked if he believed the White House was involved, the manager replied: "I have no reason to believe that."

Cummings said conservative group applications were set aside after a screener identified a case that appeared to be precedent-setting for others.

"They wanted to make sure that it was handled in a way whereby when other cases came behind it that were similar, that they would be treated in a consistent way," the lawmaker said.