The hearing was supposed to start at 9 ET in the House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee, but it got started a little late. First up — former acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, who just got forcibly retired about a month early. CBS News has a live embed for those wanting to follow along:
CBS also has this primer for those coming late to the story:
After a week of information slowly trickling out about the political discrimination carried out by the IRS, the public will finally on Friday hear directly from those at the agency.
Public questioning begins in the House Ways and Means Committee, where the acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller and J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), will testify Friday morning. …
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said in a statement that Miller’s resignation “does nothing to change the culture of discrimination at the IRS.”
“And, it certainly does nothing to change the fact that the tax system is targeting honest, hardworking taxpayers instead of working for them,” he continued. “There are still far too many unanswered questions and until we know what truly happened, we cannot fully fix what is wrong.”
Both Camp and the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., have been extremely critical of the misconduct at the IRS, with Levin earlier this week calling for the resignation of both Miller and senior IRS official Lois Lerner.
Lerner is one of four witnesses invited to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next Wednesday. However, Lerner has not yet confirmed whether or not she’ll be present, a spokesperson for the Oversight Committee told CBSNews.com. According to the spokesperson, Lerner’s lawyer — William Taylor of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, who has represented high-profile clients like Dominique Strauss-Kahn — told the committee that Lerner is currently in Montreal.
Miller’s opening statement claimed that while mistakes were made, there was no partisan motivation involved. Good luck with that argument. I’ll update if and when significant developments occur.
Update: Max Baucus thinks we’re going to hear even worse from the Congressional hearings, although it might take a couple of weeks to get through it all:
Senior Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who recently slapped Obamacare as a “train wreck,” believes that the IRS scandal is just beginning and that “a lot more” damaging information will be revealed, likely at congressional hearings.
“I have a hunch that a lot more is going to come out, frankly,” Baucus, whose pending retirement seems to have freed him up to speak bluntly, told Bloomberg’s “Capitol Gains” TV show.
“It’s broader than the current focus. And I think it’s important that we have the hearings, and I think that will encourage other information to come out that has not yet come out. I suspect that we will learn more in the next several days, maybe the next couple three weeks which adds more context to all of this,” added Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
By the way, they just put today’s witnesses explicitly under oath for this hearing, which is a little unusual. Chairman Camp told the hearing that he’s insisting on the oath because of the IRS’ repeatedly misleading the panel in the past. Ouch.