Right-wing media are falsely claiming that excerpts of interviews with IRS employees prove that improper targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status originated from IRS supervisors in Washington, D.C. But House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa admitted on CNN that no such proof is contained in the excerpts.
Right-Wing Media Claim Excerpts And Issa Interview Revealed Targeting Orders Came From Washington
Fox News Anchor Bret Baier: IRS Employees Say “It Does In Fact Go Right To Washington.” On Fox & Friends, Special Report anchor Bret Baier pushed the claim that the parts of the interviews released so far show that orders for the IRS to target conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status came from Washington:
BAIER: I think this is the focus, is whether it goes right to Washington. You have Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee saying he's got interviews with these Cincinnati IRS agents saying, it does in fact go right to Washington, and he's going to lay that out this week.
On-screen text during the segment said: “Straight From Washington: Cincinnati Workers Say Orders From D.C.” :
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/3/13]
Daily Mail's David Martosko: Excerpts “Have Established That The Washington, D.C. Headquarters” Of IRS Was Targeting Conservative Groups. Daily Mail Online political editor David Martosko wrote of Issa's appearance on CNN:
Interviews with IRS employees have established that the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service was engaged in targeting tea party groups and other conservative organizations for unfair levels of scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Rep. Darrel lssa, chairman of powerful House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, made that startling announcement on CNN Sunday morning. [Daily Mail Online, 6/2/13]
Breitbart.com's Kerry Picket: Excerpts “Made It Clear” IRS Employees Were Told By Washington Supervisors To Target Conservative Groups. Breitbart.com's Kerry Picket posted the excerpts from interviews with IRS employees and wrote:
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) revealed new testimony from IRS employees on CNN's State of The Union on Sunday. According to transcribed excerpts released by the Committee, a Cincinnati IRS employee made it clear they were told by Washington, D.C. personnel to give extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups. [Breitbart.com, 6/2/13]
But Issa Admitted There Was No Proof Yet That Targeting Orders Came From Washington
Issa Acknowledged One Of The Excerpts Was “Not Definitive” That Targeting Originated In Washington. During his interview on CNN's State of the Union, Issa agreed with host Candy Crowley that one of the excerpts from the interviews with IRS employees that he selectively leaked, after she read it on the air, is “totally not definitive” :
CROWLEY: And one of the excerpts we were given, and I want to talk about how problematic it is to get excerpts, because we know that you interviewed these people probably for hours and you get little excerpts which it's hard for us to kind of judge what's going on, but here's one of those -- just some IRS agent, again, from the Cincinnati office.
The investigator said, “so is it your perspective that ultimately the responsible parties for the decisions that were reported by the IG,” that is the decision that target tea party and Patriot applications, “are not in the Cincinnati office?”
The employee says, “I don't know how to answer that question. I mean, from an agent standpoint, we didn't do anything wrong. We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do.”
Investigator, “and you ultimately followed directions from Washington, is that correct?”
The employee, “if direction had come down from Washington, yes.”
The investigator, “but with respect to the particular scrutiny that was given to Tea Party applications, those directions emanated from Washington, is that right?”
The employee answers, “I believe so.”
It's totally not definitive.
ISSA: Well, that one isn't.
CROWLEY: Right. [CNN, State of the Union, 6/2/13]
Issa Said “We're Getting To Proving” Targeting Originated In Washington In Response To Whether He Will Release Full Transcripts Of Interviews. After Crowley questioned Issa on whether he will release complete transcripts, he responded by promising to do so but said that Republicans are still “getting to proving” their accusation that IRS supervisors in Washington, D.C., orchestrated the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups:
CROWLEY: Why don't you put the whole thing out? Because you know our problem really is -- and you know that your critics say that Republicans and you in particular sort of cherry pick information that go to your foregone conclusion, so it worries us to put this kind of stuff out. Can you not put the whole transcript out?
ISSA: The whole transcript will be put out. We understand -- these are in real time. And the administration is still -- they're paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind, he's still making up things about what happens in calling this local rogue. There's no indication -- the reason the Lois Lerner tried to take the fifth is not because there is a rogue in Cincinnati, it's because this is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters and we're getting to proving it.
We have 18 more transcribed interviews to do.
CROWLEY: But as yet, you don't -- you don't have that direct link. You have the front line agents going, yeah, I mean, we figured it was from Washington or I believe it was, but as of yet you don't have that definitive, yeah, this guy called me and said, people, go look for Tea Party and Patriot applications. [CNN, State of the Union, 6/2/13]