As the right continues to try to make the IRS’ bad behavior look political, they are seemingly doing nothing more than making themselves look foolish. Fox News posted two articles at the end of the week (here and here) trying to further suggest the many times debunked notion the mistakes can be traced back to the White House and Darrell Issa also posted an op-ed in the USA Today eluding to the same. Most of their new argument is based on Thursday’s testimony of two IRS employees, one of which linked the review of groups to the Office of Chief Counsel, who is an Obama appointee.
I suppose this was intended to be breaking news and something new for the country to look at regarding the ongoing investigation. Just one problem: we already knew the Chief Counsel was involved over two months ago. Call it lazy research. Call it an omission. Call it biased reporting. Call it what you want. It just looks ridiculous.
If you look at page 42 of the TIGTA’s report from May 14, 2013, the first entry in the timeline for August 4, 2011, the report clearly states:
Rulings and Agreements office personnel held a meeting with Chief Counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue. (Emphasis added)
Breaking news folks! The team at Fox has made it most of the way through one report released 9 weeks ago! Congrats guys!
As for Mr. Issa, he continues to plant the seed that the targeting was political and goes to the White House at any chance he gets. In his op-ed, he questions:
Was the targeting of Tea Party applicants directed from the White House or somewhere else outside the IRS?
He then suggests judgement should be withheld until all the info is in but the implication is clear. There are many ways to word that question and make that point but he clearly refuses to stop linking the scandal to the White House despite having zero evidence.
If you have been paying close attention to the scandal and watched the 5 hours of testimony Thursday, you’ll notice an evolution in the argument coming from the right. At first, they suggested the targeting itself was political but that has been debunked beyond any doubt at this point and there is no longer an argument there considering the mountain of evidence against it.
Now the argument is the delay in giving the non-profit groups approval was political. And it turns out this argument may be showing the hypocrisy of the right considering they might be the side that created the problem that led to the delays.
If you watch the testimony of the Inspector General from Thursday and skip to questioning from Republican Rep. Tim Walberg at around the 46:00 mark, you’ll see him getting an answer he probably didn’t want regarding the delay. He brings up how some of the work was shifted from an experienced IRS employee to another greener employee and the IG jumps in and points out:
I would just add, Congressman, given the fiscal constraints facing the entire nation, but especially those confronting the Internal Revenue Service, I am not surprised that they would have made a decision like that and they’re, unfortunately, going to have to continue to make some of these…haphazard-types of decisions because of a lack of resources and manpower. (Emphasis added)
In other words, the old conservative strategy of “starving the beast” has worked perfectly for them in that it has created underfunded agencies incapable of doing the work imposed on them by the government and now they get to yell “fire” where they lit the match.
Another tactic of the right in the first testimony was to demonize Lois Lerner further. So, what do the IG investigators think of Lerner’s actions during their testimony? She was actually helpful and trying to fix the problem. When Republican Tim Walberg asked about her actions he received this response (44:47 mark):
Well, she (Lerner) was trying to fix the problem. She…recognized, then, that these criteria were inappropriate, to use any names regardless of political party, and she was trying to fix it.
She might not have been perfect, but it certainly seems like she wasn’t as bad as the right is making her out to be.
There are two other exchanges I would encourage people to watch from the IG testimony. The first (at 2:10:12) is Democrat Carolyn Maloney holding up and showing the training manual from the IRS that encourages employees to look for terms like “Republican, Democrat, donkey, elephant, Tea Party, and progressives.” The IG explains he just received the document last week so this was not included in earlier testimony and reports from his office.
The second (at 2:18:16) tip of the hat goes to Democrat Tony Cardenas of California. He simply asks the IG to identify if he has any evidence regarding accusations by Republicans, such as Representatives Issa and Rogers and Senators McConnell and Cruz, and if any of those outlandish claims have any truth to them. Answer: nope. Nicely done Mr. Cardenas!
I’ve said before the IRS acted poorly in this situation but the evidence continues to mount that none of the wrongdoing was political in nature. And as this evidence mounts, the folks on the right trying to reach for anything they can to prove what isn’t true just look more and more ridiculous as time goes on. Keep up the good work Fox and Issa! We surely enjoy watching you show the world your true colors!
8 thoughts on “Issa and Fox News Continuing to Embarrass Themselves Over IRS Targeting”
There is a significant difference in the charge that Mr. Wilkins may have known of different treatment being accorded Tea Party applications and this NEW TESTIMONY from 2 IRS workers that he directed them to single out Tea Party groups. Your attempt (like others who are “covering” this on the left) are either politically biased attempts to gloss over this distinction or under-informed.
Wilkins did not direct them to single Tea Party groups. That was never stated in the testimony, neither employee stated that, and the timeline of events proves that is not true. The targeting started in February/March of 2010 according to the TIGTA report. Hull did not received the two cases he worked on until April 2010 and he did not meet with the Chief Counsel until August of 2011. The timeline shows the targeting started from the bottom of the IRS then worked its way up as higher and higher management learned about it. There is no proof or testimony of anything else at this point.
This is from P. Noonan’s column in the WSJ, published 7/19: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324448104578614220949743916.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h
“Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner’s senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:
Q: “Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?”
A: “She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel.”
Q: “The IRS chief counsel?”
A: “The IRS chief counsel.”
The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And again, he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.”
To the extent that Noonan’s reference of Hull’s testimony is true it contradicts your timeline and claim that Wilkins was not involved in the targeting.
It bears more scrutiny and although the right is beating the drums on this, (overly so IMO) I don’t agree that there “embarrassing themselves” either.
Yep, I saw that already and two things. First, there isn’t evidence yet that this made it to the Chief Counsel’s office until the meeting in August 2011, just that there was a recommendation and it could have happened. It’s not impossible that it happened then, but there is no indication it did at this time.
Two, and this is the really important part, you are still ignoring the dates. The winter of 2010-2011 is after February/March 2010 when the targeting started. In other words, zero evidence the Chief Counsel’s office was aware of the targeting until long after it had started which means the one Obama appointee had nothing to do with beginning the idea.
When there is any hard evidence suggesting otherwise, I’ll listen. Until then, I’m correct according to what we know. It wasn’t political. It was a bad decision at the lower levels of the IRS.
Can you post or forward your IRS hearing link?
I’m watching on YT and your time marks don’t match up w/ the testimony.
Links are in there but I just noticed how difficult they are to distinguish. May have to change the look around to fix that.
Link to Inspector General George testimony (all marks mentioned are from this one):
What happened to the comment section?
I feel much the same way regarding “hard evidence” but they won’t get any if they don’t investigate. The current emphasis is data mining computers of IRS officials like Wilkins, his deputies and two of his attorneys. Hopefully, we’ll know what he knew and when he knew it.