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Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Government Committee, on CBS' Face the Nation
Last week, House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa released excerpts from interviews with IRS agents in Cincinnati in an effort to accuse the Obama administration of ordering the IRS to target tea party groups. The fact that even his own cherry-picked transcripts didn't actually make his case was an obvious red flag that he was full of it, but this weekend the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, released additional interview excerpts that directly contradicted Issa's claims.
According to the excerpts released by Cummings, a self-described "conservative Republican" IRS agent who managed the screening group responsible for the application reviews told committee staff he had "no reason to believe" the White House had any involvement in either the decision to screen tea party cases or the decision to consolidate them for review.
Moreover, the agent said the motive for the screening was to ensure that all political cases were handled in the same fashion.
I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that need to have further development.
That doesn't mean the correct criteria were used for screening, but it suggests that while inappropriate terms were used for screening, the IRS agents involved were motivated by the right thing—and given the convoluted law surrounding these sorts of groups, they didn't have an easy task.
Democratic committee staff say none of the interviews revealed any sort of politically coordinated effort by the White House to target tea party groups. In the absence of the full transcripts, we only have their word to go on, but Cummings says he will release the full transcripts if Issa does not. And based on the partial transcripts released so far, it's pretty clear why Mr. Grand Theft Auto didn't want to release the full story.