Also, Treasury and Senior IRS officials behind the planted question and answer
I did not get to watch the Senate IRS hearings today, but it looks like a little more truth leaked out of IRS head Steven Miller, who admitted the targeting was partisan. Maybe a few more days on the stand, and we get the whole truth.
And that whole truth is that what happened was a partisan attack on behalf of a sitting president against his political opponents. It was not just a mistake, or mismanagement, or any of the other lame excuses being cast about to distract from the partisan nature.
The head of the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday, in his second day of sworn testimony before congressional committees, admitted under questioning that the agency’s targeting of tea party groups was a partisan act.
“It absolutely was,” said Steven Miller, acting commissioner of the IRS, when asked by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) if the agency acted in a partisan manner.
Miller had said in his opening statement to the Senate Finance Committee that the targeting was “not an act of partisanship.” The question of whether the IRS personnel who targeted tea party groups acted in a partisan way has implications for whether they broke laws such as the Hatch Act, which forbids government employees from engaging in partisan political activity….
BURR: Mr. Miller, let me just ask you. Has this practice stopped?
MILLER: What practice, sir?
BURR: The practice of how they process the consideration of these applications — keywords “conservative,” “tea party,” “patriot”?
MILLER: I believe that that did happen. The names stopped when — last in — when Lois Lerner first learned of it. The second listing, by the way, if you take a look at that, in the Treasury inspector general’s report, is still problematic because it talks about policy positions, but it actually is not particularly partisan in how it talks about policy positions.
BURR: So it was partisan — it was partisan before, though.
MILLER: Yes, it absolutely was.
In another interesting development demonstrating why a special prosecutor with the power to take testimony under oath is needed, the Inspector General admitted that his Report was not the result of taking testimony under oath:
J. Russell George, the inspector general, repeated that his audit turned up no evidence that anyone in the White House or in senior IRS management directed the improper screenings. He said the examination was not an investigation, and employees were not under oath, and said his agency would be following up.
Nearby at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew acknowledged Tuesday that there was contact between his agency and the IRS on the planned plant.
“There were some conversations at a staff level between Treasury and IRS. You know, there are — it is — was the discretion of the IRS to decide how to manage this matter,” Lew said in answer to questions from Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
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