The California congressman, whose committee is conducting an investigation into the agency’s behavior, provided CNN with selected excerpts from his staff’s interviews with IRS agents on June 2 and assured host Candy Crowley that “the whole transcript will be put out.”
But in a letter to the top Democrat on the Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Issa appeared to back away from his pledge, arguing that releasing the transcripts would “needlessly jeopardize the integrity of the investigation and hamper the Committee’s ability to get to the truth.” Experts, he contested, are useful and “serve to provide important updates to the public” and “empower other witnesses to become whistleblowers.”
The portion Issa released to CNN, however, did not substantiate his charge that officials in Washington directed the targeting, though Issa proceded to label White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” and claim that the spokesperson is “making up things about what happens in calling this local rogue.”
Several prominent Republicans criticized Issa’s remarks and a week later Cummings appeared on CNN to challenge the Chairman. “I want those transcripts to be released,” Cummings said. “I’m willing to come on your show next week with the Chairman with the transcripts if he agrees to do that. If he doesn’t, I’ll release them by the end of the week.”
Cummings insisted that the full interviews will demonstrate that “the White House was not involved in this,” pointing out that the Cincinnati IRS manager of the screening group, a career veteran at the agency who identified himself as Republican, told investigators that Washington did not direct the targeting. “I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development,” the individual told investigators according to a portion of the transcripts released by the Democratic staff on the House Oversight Committee.
Cummings condemned Issa’s refusal to release the full transcripts in a statement on Tuesday. “Chairman Issa changes his mind so fast that even when I agree him, we’re not on the same page,” he said. “I fully support responsible oversight, but cherry picking transcript excerpts to fuel partisan and unsubstantiated claims is not a credible or effective way to investigate.”