A “conservative Republican” manager of IRS screeners in Cincinnati says there was no evidence of White House involvement in targeting conservative groups, the Democratic leader of a committee probing the scandal said Sunday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told CNN's "State of the Union" that the unnamed IRS official’s statement to congressional investigators shows that Republican claims of Obama operatives using the IRS are baseless.
“He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way to showing that the White House was not involved in this,” he said.
Cummings also said the interviews conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he is the ranking Democrat, were conclusive enough for the investigation to be considered complete. “Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved,” he said. “If it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on.”
But Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Cumming’s opposite number and chairman of the committee, vowed to press ahead with the investigation and said the IRS manager's comments "did not provide anything enlightening or contradict other witness accounts."
"I strongly disagree with ... Cummings' assertion that we know everything we need to know about inappropriate targeting of tea party groups by the IRS," he said in a statement released by his office and reported by Reuters.
Issa told CNN’s “State of the Union” last Sunday that interviews with workers in the Cincinnati IRS office indicated the targeting of conservative groups was "a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters - and we're getting to proving it."
“My gut tells me that too many people knew this wrongdoing was going on before the election, and at least by some sort of convenient, benign neglect, allowed it to go on through the election,” Issa said last week. “I’m not making any allegations as to motive, that they set out to do it, but certainly people knew it was happening.”
But in the interview excerpts released by Cummings, the charge of political motivation is refuted by the Cincinnati manager, who described himself to investigators as a “conservative Republican.”
“I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development,” the manager said, according to the document released by Cummings’ Democratic committee staff. The excerpts indicate the manager was later asked whether he had “any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases.” He replied, “I have no reason to believe that.”
Like Issa, Cummings released only portions of the investigators’ interview with the manager, despite CNN’s request for the full transcript. On “State of the Union,” Cummings said he has repeatedly called for Issa to release the full interview transcripts, and if Issa chooses not to by the end of the week, he would release the full interviews himself.