Rep. Darrell Issa made some bold accusations during his exclusive appearance on CNN's State of the Union Sunday morning. Namely, Issa said an IRS employee testified under oath the Cincinnati office at the center of the Tea Party scrutiny scandal received that direction from Washington. He also called White House press secretary Jay Carney a lair. "Their paid liar, their spokesperson, the picture behind, he’s still making up things about what happened and calling this a local rogue," said Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. (Carney was pictured behind Issa on set.) "The reason the Lois Lerner tried to take the fifth is not because there is a rogue in Cincinnati, it's because this is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters and we're getting to proving it," he added. Issa was trumpeting a big get, in his mind, when one IRS agent apparently said they were receiving direction from Washington during the IRS investigation. Issa provided the transcript to CNN ahead of his interview, but host Candy Crowley wasn't as convinced as Issa. Her reading of the transcript:
The investigator said, "so is it your perspective that ultimately the responsible parties for the decisions that were reported by the IG," that is the decision that target tea party and Patriot applications, "are not in the Cincinnati office?"
The employee says, "I don't know how to answer that question. I mean, from an agent standpoint, we didn't do anything wrong. We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do."
Investigator, "and you ultimately followed directions from Washington, is that correct?"
The employee, "if direction had come down from Washington, yes."
The investigator, "but with respect to the particular scrutiny that was given to Tea Party applications, those directions emanated from Washington, is that right?"
The employee answers, "I believe so."
It's totally not definitive.
But Issa is determined that his committee will prove the White House is lying and that they demanded the Tea Party groups get extra attention."This is a problem that was in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters," Issa said. "We’re getting to proving it." Then he unloaded some Detective Mulder level truth-seeking rhetoric: "What we have is people who have to come in and transcribe interviews. They’re saying under penalty of crimes that certain things are true. We have subpoenaed documents that would support that that they say emails went back and forth," Issa said. "We will learn the whole truth." It's probably out there.
Sen. Chuck Schumer supported Attorney General Eric Holder's continued employment during his appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. "There have been all kinds of accusations, but I haven’t seen anything that would prevent him from continuing to do his job," Schumer said. The New York Democrat reminded everyone this isn't the first scandal Holder's lived through as AG. "Let’s not forget for two years, many of our hard right colleagues spent a lot of their time on Fast and Furious and I’m sure there were calls for Holder to step down," said Schumer. "He continued to do his job well. And then the IG exonerated him on Fast and Furious... The president has confidence in Holder and I believe he’s going to stay," he added. But, perhaps even more importantly, Schumer predicted immigration reform will pass the Senate before Independence Day. (Because of course it will.) "We’re going to put immigration on the (Senate) floor starting on June 10. I predict it will pass the Senate by July 4," Schumer said. "We are hoping to get 70 votes, up to 70 votes, which means a lot of Republicans. And we’re willing to entertain amendments that don’t damage the core principles of the bill, but improve the bill – just as we did in (the Judiciary) committee." Schumer thinks the bill will pass the House easily if they can msuter overwhelming support in the Senate. "If we can come out of the Senate with close to a majority of the Republican senators and almost every Democrat, that may change the equation in the House and the thinking in the House among mainstream Republicans, and they may want to go for our bill."
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus thinks Obama developed a "culture" of targeting Tea Party groups, and that's why he wants to investigate every nook and cranny of this story, he said on Fox News Sunday. "The culture of the president calling tea party groups terrorists and tea-baggers, and that entire culture has been cultivated by the president and his people, and everyone has been following," Priebus said. The chariman doesn't believe the President's explanation that low level IRS agents scrutinized Tea Party groups on their own direction. It had to come from Washington, he says. "That’s why it doesn’t make any sense," Priebus said. "That’s why we need to keep digging, because the idea that two or three people in lower offices in Cincinnati just suddenly out of thin air just decided, ‘You know what, why don’t we launch this massive effort to derail conservative groups, and actually go after individuals that give to conservative groups,’ that that just suddenly happened." Priebus also thinks the President should know about everything -- every single, small thing -- happening in the federal government at all times. "Government under Barack Obama has gotten so big that his main defense is, 'Look, I don’t know anything about these scandals, because everything under me is so big and unwieldy that I can’t possibly know about it,'" Priebus said. "Well that’s a world and that’s an America that the founding fathers didn’t fight for."
Sen. John McCain called for Eric Holder to resign as Attorney General without really calling for him to resign during CBS's Face the Nation. It's up to Holder in the end, McCain argued. "I’m not having anything to do with these investigations … But I also think that the attorney general has to ask himself the question, is he really able to serve the president of the United States and the American people under the present circumstances?" McCain said. "That’s a decision he’d have to make." McCain was asked directly whether he thinks Holder should resign. His response: "Again, I think that would be up to him. But I think it would be tough for him to answer the question whether he can still effectively serve the president of the United States."
Karl Rove was put on the defensive during a panel discussion about the IRS scandal on ABC's This Week. Co-panelist Arianna Huffington accused Crossroads GPS, a tax-exempt, non-profit Rove helped create, of bending the rules. "If you look at Crossroads GPS, it’s all about politics," Huffington said. Crossroads is a 501(c)4 group, the same designation given to Tea Party groups at the center of the IRS scandal. These organizations aren't supposed to be politically affiliated, though many of them are. (They're technically "social welfare" groups. They argue as long as 50 percent of spending doesn't go to politics then they remain within the law. "Crossroads GPS – an organization I helped create but I don’t run it, I’m not on the board, I’m not an officer. But the leadership knew right from the get-go they were going to be looked at closely," Rove said. (It's amazing he didn't trip with all that back peddling.) "So the laws and rules that the IRS has promulgated for decades were followed very closely by GPS. For exactly that – they knew they’d get extra scrutiny." Rove even tried to turn the discussion's focus towards Democratic tax-exempt groups. "These groups – 501c4 groups have been active for years on the Democratic side, on the liberal side," he said. "And there’s been no criticism. There was no criticism from the left in 2000 when the NAACP voter fund spent $10 million to run an ad accusing George W. Bush of being a bigot. No concern on the left when Americans United for Change ran television ads targeting Republican Senators up for reelection in 2007 and 2008 over the Iraq surge."
One of the President's longest serving lieutenants called for a revision of the laws governing tax-exempt groups on Sunday. Former advisor David Axelrod said the laws should be re-examined on Meet the Press. "I think the whole 501c4 concept has to be looked at – groups applying for tax exemption and also to keep their donors secret. That’s the benefit they get from that," Axelrod said. Axelrod said the question of what is and isn't political needs to be scrutinized. "How do you decide what is political and what is not political?" Axelrod asked. "That ought to be looked at." But ultimately when explaining the IRS scandal, Axelrod said it wasn't a targeted effort on behalf of the IRS. It was a stupid effort. "If there was someone political involved in this, it never would have happened because it was the stupidest thing you can imagine," he said.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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