Cummings releases IRS interview transcript

IRS sign with magnifying glass Internal revenue Service tax taxes CBS/iStockphoto

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released on Tuesday the full transcript of an interview with an IRS official in order to prove that the misconduct at the IRS wasn't directed by the White House.

Cummings' move comes in response to the decision from the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to share with the media the transcript from another interview -- one which makes clear that the IRS' Washington, D.C., office did play a key role in the political discrimination against conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

The Oversight Committee, along with the House Ways and Means Committee, is in the midst of interviewing IRS officials over the controversy, though their investigations have yet to make clear whether the IRS' misconduct was the result of intentional bias or gross mismanagement. That, however, hasn't stopped partisan accusations over the matter.

On May 14, days after the misconduct was revealed, Issa said on "CBS This Morning", "This was the targeting of the president's political enemies, effectively, and lies about it during the election year, so that it wasn't discovered until afterwards."

In a letter to Issa, Cummings on Tuesday said he was releasing the transcript of an interview with an IRS Screening Group Manager in Cincinnati to rebut those claims. The manager, a self-identified "conservative Republican," denies the White House directed the IRS to target conservative groups and says the actions were not politically motivated.

"To be clear, I am not suggesting that IRS employees in Washington, D.C. played no role in these activities," Cummings said. "These facts are a far cry from accusations of a conspiracy orchestrated by the White House to target the President's political enemies."

Cummings also chided Issa for sharing some transcripts with the press while refusing to release others.

In response to Cummings' move Tuesday, Issa said he was disappointed in the Democrat's decision to publish the transcript amid ongoing interviews. The transcript, he said, "will serve as a roadmap for IRS officials to navigate investigative interviews with Congress."

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