Elijah Cummings wastes no time.
Just hours after the vice chair of the House Oversight Committee threatened Chairman Darrell Issa with releasing House Oversight Committee interview transcripts that clear the White House of wrongdoing in the IRS mess on CNN, AP already has the story: “a self-described ‘conservative Republican’ has told investigators that no one at the White House directed the Internal Revenue Service to target tea party groups.”
The Maryland Democrat released a transcript Sunday of the committee investigators’ interview with a manager of the IRS’ Cincinnati office. The unidentified man told investigators that workers in that office instigated the reviews on their own, that he was unaware of a political motivation behind the extra scrutiny to conservative groups’ applying for tax-exempt status, and that there was no evidence of any White House involvement.
You’ll recall that a week ago, Issa told CNN’s Candy Crowley that IRS agents “were directly being ordered from Washington,” but he offered no proof, though he hinted of dark secrets his investigators had learned in their interviews with IRS staff. This Sunday, Cummings told Crowley he “begged” Issa to release the full transcripts – and promised her “If he does not release them, I will. Period…I’ll release them by the end of the week.” He didn’t wait that long.
While Issa had acknowledged that at least one staffer told investigators he didn’t see evidence of White House involvement, the full interview was more emphatic, Cummings said.
“He was a 21-year veteran,” Cummings told Crowley. “He described himself in the interviews in response to a Republican attorney’s question as a conservative Republican. Very significant. He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think these interviews and these statements go a long way to showing the White House was not involved in this.”
“Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on.”
Issa is unlikely to wrap up and move on, but Cummings showed he’s not going to be a potted plant in the meantime. Nicely played, Mr. Vice-Chairman.