Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) — the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee — pledged to release transcripts of interviews with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials that Republicans insist demonstrate that the agency’s targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status was directed by the Obama administration.
Cummings made the remarks on CNN’s State of the Union, a week after Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) appeared on the program and insinuated that the White House directed IRS agents to single out tea party and patriot groups for additional scrutiny. Issa has refused to provide evidence that substantiate that claim.
“I wrote Chairman Issa on Thursday and I wrote to him this morning. I want those transcripts to be released,” Cummings said. “I’m willing to come on your show next week with the chairman with the transcripts if he agrees to do that. If he doesn’t, I’ll release them by the end of the week.”
Cummings insisted that the interviews will prove that “the White House was not involved in this,” pointing out that the Cincinnati IRS manager of the screening group, a career veteran at the agency who identified himself as Republican, told investigators that Washington did not direct the targeting. “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 individual told investigators according to portion of the transcripts released by the Democratic staff on the House Oversight Committee.
Rather, the scrutiny began in 2010, after an IRS screener identified a tea party group applying for nonprofit status as “high profile” and asked his boss, the conservative Republican, for additional guidance. That individual, Cummings said, sent the case to the Washington technical office so that it can be treated consistently.
“Based upon everything I’ve seen the case is solved,” Cummings said. “And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on to be frank with you.”