House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) was told by his own witnesses on Thursday that there was no political motivation behind the scrutiny of tea party groups applying for tax exempt status.
In a USA Today op-ed on Wednesday, the California Republican sought to revive the so-called scandal by suggesting that the targeting of tea party groups could have been "directed from the White House or somewhere else outside the IRS."
And clearly conservatives were expecting fireworks at Thursday's hearing because Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft titled a Wednesday evening blog post, "BOOM!… Rep. Darrell Issa Has Information That Will Link IRS Scandal ‘Into the White House’."
Hoft had apparently become excited after Issa told Fox News' Carl Cameron that Thursday's hearing would implicate the Obama administration.
"What he said to me today was make sure to watch tomorrow’s hearing because he’s going to present the evidence to prove it," Cameron explained to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Wednesday. "That he can get it right up all the way into the White House before it was all revealed."
But those allegations seemed to quickly fizzle before Issa finished the first round of questions to D.C.-based IRS tax law specialist named Carter Hull and Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre.
"Ms. Hofacre, to your knowledge, do you know of anyone that you would say had political motives in the role of treating tea party groups?" the chairman asked.
"No, I do not," she replied.
Hull was asked the same question and responded with the same answer.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the committee's ranking Democrat, blasted Issa for continuing to suggest that the White House was involved in targeting tea party groups even after months of investigations produced nothing to back up those claims.
"I have never said that it was the president," Issa interrupted. "I have never said that he directed it. And certainly my questions in an op-ed were posed questions, not as conclusions."