June 20, 2013

I'm not sure just how much more evidence National Journal's Ron Fournier or Politico's Maggie Haberman are going to need before either of them are willing to admit that Rep. Darrell Issa's witch hunt attempting to prove that the Obama administration had something to do with the IRS targeting these tea party groups is jus that, a witch hunt, but they were still doing their best to carry water for him on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner this Wednesday.

Thankfully, guest host Joy Reid was having none of it, and reminded the two of them that those transcripts that House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings released this week should have been enough to put this matter to rest once and for all.

Cummings gets tired of waiting for Issa:

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.

As Steve also noted:

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.

Heaven forbid that might get in the way of the narrative of those who want to continue the scandal mongering as we saw here. I will take Reid to task for one portion of the segment here though. If she's really worried about the real scandal being these political groups being given tax exempt status in the first place, which I agree with completely, Bill Burton, who was on the panel and weighing in as well, got a pass and wasn't asked about whether his group is part of the problem, which it is. None of these groups should be getting tax exempt status unless they are exclusively social welfare groups.

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