WSJ: IRS scandal not a closed case

posted at 9:21 am on June 24, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Rep. Elijah Cummings tried to short-circuit his committee’s probe into the IRS scandal by releasing the full transcript of an interview with a mid-level manager, which the ranking Democrat argued made the investigation “case closed.” National Review’s Eliana Johnson argues in today’s Wall Street Journal that the only case that’s closed is that Cummings is running interference for the IRS and the White House.  Not only does the testimony of John Shaefer not answer the questions about the extent of the scandal, Shaefer didn’t provide any potential answers at all:

Given the media coverage that the tea party was receiving, Mr. Shafer deemed the application a “high profile” matter and alerted his managers to its existence. Shortly thereafter, according to his testimony, lawyers in the IRS’s Washington, D.C., office said, “We want to look at the case.” On the evidence of the Washington office’s interest in that initial case, Mr. Shafer said IRS agents in Cincinnati then held the applications of tea-party groups until they were given “further direction” from D.C.

Case closed, according to Mr. Cummings, who wrote in a letter to Mr. Issa: “These statements by the screening group manager appear to directly contradict your allegations of political motivation.”

If Mr. Shafer or Mr. Cummings could read the minds of IRS officials in Washington, that might be true. In reality, Mr. Shafer was unable to say why officials in Washington were so interested in the tea-party cases or whether the officials’ interest was politically motivated.

“Did you have an understanding at the time about what the reason was for sending the cases [to Washington] for review?” investigators asked him. “No,” he responded. They pressed further. “Do you have personal knowledge of the motivations of Washington and how they worked the tea party cases?” “I do not,” Mr. Shafer said.

Johnson also points out that a case-closed conclusion ignores the information in other testimony that has already been conducted before the House Oversight Committee. That includes very troubling recollections from Elizabeth Hofacre, which we have excerpted at length here, but also from Gary Muthert, who testified that the IRS headquarters in Washington “wanted some [Tea Party] cases,” for purposes unknown. Shaefer certainly didn’t provide any answers to those questions, nor did he pretend to do so, unlike Cummings.

Johnson concludes with a few more questions that need answering:

Who at the IRS, for instance, developed the intrusive and exhaustive questions that were sent to the tea-party groups? Why did so many of those groups have to wait years for their applications to be processed, and why are many more still waiting? Who specifically were the IRS officials in Washington directing the Cincinnati agents targeting the tea-party organizations?

If the House Oversight Committee can overlook the distractions thrown up by one of its members, the answers may prove illuminating about the way Washington has worked during the Obama administration.

Indeed. And it will also be illuminating to see how many more Democrats on Oversight want to turn themselves into political human shields for the oh-so-sympathetic IRS. The fact that Cummings tried to do so makes it look as though the IRS isn’t the end of this particular road; otherwise, why try to end the probe with a stunt like this? Who benefits from trying to end scrutiny of the IRS’ political targeting? I don’t see much upside for Cummings if the problem stays isolated within that agency.

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Are you suggesting that Mr. Cummings is a liar?

His district office is about a block from my house, and I’ve never seen anyone walk in there. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been back here… well… ever.

Washington Fancy on June 24, 2013 at 9:24 AM

2nd?

UncleZeb on June 24, 2013 at 9:25 AM

A democrat carry water for the IRS??!! Hard to believe! /sarc off

Mini-14 on June 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Cummings would be screaming if the IRS targeted the NAACP, an organization that really should have its tax free status YANKED.

dogsoldier on June 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Elijah’s an a**hole.

Keep investigating. I want more smart-a** cracks from that clown McDermott, who most recently is complaining about pictures of most-wanted terrorists.

BuckeyeSam on June 24, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Crickets chirping on the lsm….gotta focus on Zimmerman and scotus doncha knuw

cmsinaz on June 24, 2013 at 9:29 AM

You’ve heard of judge, jury, and executioner. This is judge, jury, and water carrier. “short-circuit” indeed. He’s following Obama’s lead — the law is second to making pronouncements and voicing heart-felt sentiments. Who needs law and process in Obama’s world.

/What difference, at this point, does it make

Paul-Cincy on June 24, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Obviously they are running interference for Axelrod and Plouffe, and not IRS people. The Commish and his deputy visited the WH and Old Exec over 300 times between them and preceding Bush appointees were less than 5% of that total. As the election approached and political harassment of conservatives by the IRS grew, so did the frequency of these visits. Can anyone doubt the purpose was anything other than to discuss more and harder attacks on average Americans? The whole idea was to win by vote suppression, which worked by the way, and we know this critical part was being directly supervised by the WH.

MTF on June 24, 2013 at 9:34 AM

It’s really simple. Until we know who in DC ordered the targeting of conservative groups and donors, what Lerner, Schulman, and the White House knew and when they knew it, whether or not this is still going on, and what is being done to ensure it never happens again, the case isn’t closed. For God’s sake, no one has even been fired yet!

Doughboy on June 24, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Elijah Cummings would defend ANYONE OR ANYTHING that remotely jeopardizes this administration and/or his own protected perch on the plantation.

Tim Zank on June 24, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Stop funding the IRS until they come 100% clean, across the board.

Then only fund the IRS to about 1/4 its needs….attrit the rest…and dump the current tax code.

Move quickly to a flat tax.

Fund only those things Constitutionally demanded.

And send the offending IRS participants on a tour of the federal judicial and prison system.

Mr. Boehner…get on it.

At least accomplish something on your watch.

coldwarrior on June 24, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Indeed. And it will also be illuminating to see how many more Democrats on Oversight want to turn themselves into political human shields for the oh-so-sympathetic IRS.

The behavior of IRS officials is inexcusable, but at the same time Issa and other continue to strongly suggest that orders came from the White House. In fact, zero evidence has emerged to back that claim. More investigation should occur, but so far the facts suggest and prove no link.

Further, the key IRS manager involved is a conservative Republican.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/18/nation/la-na-irs-scandal-20130619

bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

It’s becoming obvious that White House shill David Gregory (posing as NBC “journalist”) is doing all he can to distract from Barky’s IRS and Benghazi problems. Yesterday Gregory tried to scapegoat Greenwald for Barky’s Snowden f-ups.

The big picture still appears that Benghazi is what the White House Press Corps doesn’t want the public to know about. See-BS this morning was pimping the Snowden journey like it was O.J. in the white Ford Bronco when that judicial-media circus (Ito’s Folly) was just beginning.

viking01 on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Cummings and his friends are afraid the IRS will tip over like an overbuilt island.

right2bright on June 24, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Cummings can say it’s a closed case, but that wont make it so. Given all the stonewalling and unanswered questions, his declaration is believable only to progressives and the Democrat media.

RadClown on June 24, 2013 at 9:54 AM

bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

That is simply not true. He claims he is a conservatie Republican. Just him saying it does not make it true.

Johnnyreb on June 24, 2013 at 9:58 AM

the only case that’s closed is that Cummings is running interference for the IRS and the White House.

Cummings made an azz of himself with that.

petefrt on June 24, 2013 at 10:05 AM

bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

You’re a fool.

How do you determine if the White House was involved? By investigationg. The investigation isn’t over yet. And sorry scooter….the facts and evidence and common sense lead this scandal directly to the White House and/or the top level of Obama’s campaign team.

Every major player in this scandal so far has been a PARTISAN DEMOCRAT HACK.

The sole “republican” involved isn’t the KEY player.

Seriously, pull your head out of Obama’s crotch long enough to see daylight and you might wisen up.

HumpBot Salvation on June 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Further, the key IRS manager involved is a conservative Republican.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/18/nation/la-na-irs-scandal-20130619

bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Based on what? Him claiming to be one. You know who else says he’s a conservative Republican? Joe Scarborough. And I can think of quite a few people who ran as conservative Republicans who are now sitting Senators about to vote for amnesty. No offense, but words mean d-ck to me at this point if they’re coming from anyone in the legislative or executive branches of the federal government.

Doughboy on June 24, 2013 at 10:11 AM

In fact, zero evidence has emerged to back that claim. More investigation should occur, but so far the facts suggest and prove no link.
bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

So when you watch football, the game ends after the 1st qtr? It’s an investigation–it starts at the bottom where it was blamed on 2 rogue agents–how did that play out? Pathetic comment of the day.

hillsoftx on June 24, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Clintoon shill David Gergen made it obvious that DNC toadys will make that shell-game claim without hesitation especially if they’ve pimped themselves on PBS as their GOP token on NewsHour, NPR or similar DNC agit-prop venue.

also see: David “perfect crease” Brooks.

viking01 on June 24, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Further, the key IRS manager involved is a conservative Republican.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/18/nation/la-na-irs-scandal-20130619

bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Oh he is? Like all journalists are objective independents? It is amazing how kids of your generation are so conditioned to fight arguments with labels and what they supposedly entail vs. reality.

Bottom line is that from top to bottom this is yet another example of your sides wholesale corruption. You have zero morals and character and are a blight on our society. I don’t want your criminal president to go down, I want your whole system to go down like the mafia it is.

ClassicCon on June 24, 2013 at 10:18 AM

If you’re Elijah Cummings, you have to believe one of two things, either the IRS got it wrong and it could set a dangerous precedent, if it’s not dealt with properly, in which case you want the investigation to go on, or someone higher up has told him to do his job and stop this thing before it gets too close to the top.

The way he’s acting, which do you think is the truth?

bflat879 on June 24, 2013 at 10:19 AM

In fact, zero evidence has emerged to back that claim. More investigation should occur, but so far the facts suggest and prove no link.
bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Uh huh. And there’s no “smoking gun” in the form of a document which shows Hitler ordering the Final Solution. Good luck with this line of reasoning.

happytobehere on June 24, 2013 at 10:26 AM

hummmm… wonder what personal tax problems Cummings has…

roflmmfao

donabernathy on June 24, 2013 at 10:44 AM

We need more Elijah and less Cummings.

Ted Torgerson on June 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

There may not be a smoking gun yet, but there sure is a lot of smoke. Somewhere there’s a fire.

How’s that for a mixed metaphor?

RadClown on June 24, 2013 at 11:13 AM

And it will also be illuminating to see how many more Democrats on Oversight want to turn themselves into political human shields for the oh-so-sympathetic IRS. The fact that Cummings tried to do so makes it look as though the IRS isn’t the end of this particular road

Cummings is running interference because no matter what he does, he has that seat for life. His district will never fail to reelect him and everyone knows it. That’s why he was tapped to do it in the first place.

Notice how no one else on the committee seems willing to stick their neck out that far?

Oh, and bayam, perhaps you could enlighten us about more than just the “conservative republican’s” words. Perhaps you could point to a single thing this person has done that could, in any way, be described as conservative.

Just one. Go ahead, if he’s that conservative, it should be easy. We’ll wait.

runawayyyy on June 24, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Perhaps Issa should ask Cummings if he (Cummings) is getting “direction from the White House”.

GarandFan on June 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Wasn’t he the one who said that one of the tea party called him the N word? With all the cameras following that tramp pelousi (I do know how to spell it) not 1 camera caught anything. No witnesses ever heard it! Elijah lied! Elijah lied! ELIJAH LIED!!!

Wonder how he really feels when he goes to bed and thinks about how he has been compromised? But hey, 0′s black and so is Elijah!

Bambi on June 24, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Thanks HA. Just typed up a bunch of stuff and you update and wipe it all out just before I post. Stop that!

TerryW on June 24, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Further, the key IRS manager involved is a conservative Republican.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/18/nation/la-na-irs-scandal-20130619

bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

So at least even you admit that him being conservative makes him more responsible…

The fact is, he may not know, why would “upper” management tell a private about war plans?

right2bright on June 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Just one. Go ahead, if he’s that conservative, it should be easy. We’ll wait.

runawayyyy on June 24, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Don’t ask for facts from that poster, it won’t happen…

right2bright on June 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Are you suggesting that Mr. Cummings is a liar?

His district office is about a block from my house, and I’ve never seen anyone walk in there. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been back here… well… ever.

Washington Fancy on June 24, 2013 at 9:24 AM

In his case it’s hard to separate the sheer stupidity of the man from his degree of honesty.

slickwillie2001 on June 24, 2013 at 1:58 PM

In fact, zero evidence has emerged to back that claim. More investigation should occur, but so far the facts suggest and prove no link.
Canadian Troll on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Uh huh. And there’s no “smoking gun” in the form of a document which shows Hitler ordering the Final Solution. Good luck with this line of reasoning.

happytobehere on June 24, 2013 at 10:26 AM

On the other hand, President George W. Bush was personally responsible for every bark from those mean dogs at Abu Ghraib.

slickwillie2001 on June 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Thugs, with obama the thug in chief, run the gov’t.

obama is illegitimate in his 2nd term. He won like Chavez/Putin did.

He is the asterisk pResident.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Indeed. And it will also be illuminating to see how many more Democrats on Oversight want to turn themselves into political human shields for the oh-so-sympathetic IRS.

The behavior of IRS officials is inexcusable, but at the same time Issa and other continue to strongly suggest that orders came from the White House. In fact, zero evidence has emerged to back that claim. More investigation should occur, but so far the facts suggest and prove no link.

Further, the key IRS manager involved is a conservative Republican.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/18/nation/la-na-irs-scandal-20130619

bayam on June 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

All available evidence points to direction from higher up, and no one has yet found just high up it goes. The investigation is not yet complete.

Saying there is zero evidence is a lie. There is, as yet, insufficient evidence to prove the White House is involved. That’s what an investigation is for.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 24, 2013 at 4:59 PM