Chris Wallace pressed Congressan Charles Boustany (R-LA) on Sunday about the failure of the House Oversight & Government Reform and Ways and Means Committees to find any evidence of high-level corruption in its investigation of improper targeting of Tea Party applicants seeking tax-exempt status. Boustany, a member of the Ways and Means committee’s GOP majority, could offer no evidence of high-level wrongdoing.
On Fox News Sunday, Wallace asked Boustany if he had “any evidence, after a year of investigation,” of any higher up IRS, Treasury, or White House official directed former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner to increase scrutiny on groups with Tea Party keywords in their applications. Boustany dodged the question, noting that they have not received enough information to know yet, claiming stonewalling and obstruction by Lerner (who headed the agency’s Exempt Organizations Division).
Wallace then asked why House Republicans had not granted Lerner immunity from prosecution, in exchange for her truthful testimony — a decision Boustany declined to defend:
WALLACE: Congressman, let me interrupt you, too, if i may. Because a lot of people … including some Republicans, some of your colleagues say that your committee and the House Oversight Committee have blown this because of the fact that you should have given Lois Lerner immunity. I mean, let’s face it — nobody really cares what Lois Lerner did, the question is did she get it from higher ups or just the decision by a mid level bureaucrat in the IRS? Why not give her immunity a year ago under subject, of penalty of perjury and say were you given direction by anybody above you?
BOUSTANY: Well, that is a debatable point. And it’s worthy of discussion. But the fact is we’re still being obstructed by the IRS. We’ve now gone through two — we have two confirmed IRS Commissioners and two acting commissioners and we have still not gotten all the documents that we need to conclude this investigation. The fact is I want to follow the facts, on this, from the ground up starting with the Cincinnati office. we’ve had good interviews.
WALLACE: You’ve had a year, sir. You’ve had a year.
Watch the video:
A spokesman for Boustany did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about whether he thinks Issa erred in refusing to grant immunity to Lerner.
Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, pointed out that while Boustany had not answered the question about White House involvement, but said that the real answer was “zero.”
On Wednesday, the Ways and Means Committee’s Republican majority voted — along party lines — to send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder suggesting that he launch an investigation into possible criminal misconduct by Lerner. A day later, Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) Oversight Committee voted, also along party lines, to recommend Lerner be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions — citing her Fifth Amendment rights against possible self-incrimination — after telling the committee that she had broken no laws.