[UPDATED: Round two] Five key take-aways from today’s IRS hearings
posted at 2:25 pm on July 18, 2013 by Guy Benson
– The other first-round witness was Elizabeth Hofacre, a Cincinnati-based IRS veteran of 14 years. She testified that hearing statements from Lois Lerner and White House spokesman Jay Carney blaming the improper targeting on “rogue” and “line” employees in her regional office felt like a “nuclear strike.” She said she believes senior agency officials were trying to blame her for carrying out their orders, and expressed the opinion that Lois Lerner was intentionally trying to mislead the public in advancing that narrative. Hofacre said she was assigned dozens of Tea Party applications, all of which were delayed by her superiors. She eventually became so frustrated with the situation that she transferred divisions. Long after she left, many of her Tea Party cases remained in a “holding pattern” and unresolved. – Democrats flogged several points — beyond the generic attacks on Issa and Republicans, that is. First, that the targeting wasn’t politically motivated. This is what many witnesses have said, but it doesn’t pass the common sense test. A large majority of Americans understand the political nature of the abuse. Second, new evidence “proves” that liberal groups were also targeted — an assertion that relies on a totally false equivalency. (This also glosses over the distinction between 501(c)3 and (c)4 organizations). Third, that none of the witnesses they’ve engaged have stated (or admitted) personal knowledge of interference or direction from the White House or the Obama campaign. These members seemed to think it is somehow dispositive that low-to-mid-level IRS employees weren’t personally given marching orders directly from David Axelrod. It’s a specious point. Finally, committee Democrats previewed their blistering critiques of the Inspector General, who will testify later today. They will accuse him of cherry-picking facts, carrying water for Republicans, and withholding important information. The IG, Russell George, will defend himself, and Republicans will come to his aid — even though they’ve been critical of him on other points.
Democrats made clear that they’re planning to unleash an onslaught of criticism against the Inspector General during round two, which begins around 2:30 pm ET. It’s going to get ugly. Follow the links for important background on what they’ll say about the IG, and the false equivalency on which they’ll rely.
UPDATE – Here’s my recap of the second round of testimony. Bottom lines: Republicans’ takeaway today will be that the IRS’ attempts to pawn this off on low- or mid-level employees in Ohio was demolished. In fact, as we discovered yesterday, the agency’s chief counsel’s office in DC was involved in determining targeting methodology. Democrats’ takeaway is that the investigation is ongoing (last month, their ranking member declared the issue over) and more evidence of anti-progressive targeting could still emerge. On that score, see my parting thought (and virtually all other evidence).