- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Democrats have released the entire 205-page transcript of an interview with a self-described “conservative Republican” employee in the Cincinnati office of the IRS who says he wasn’t aware of any White House involvement in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, nor was there any political motivation in his work.

The move from ranking member Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, comes after excerpts of transcripts suggesting a much broader role from the Washington, D.C. office of the IRS surfaced in media reports, and is likely to escalate an ongoing war of words between Mr. Cummings and Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and the panel chairman.

Click here to read the full transcript: IRS_Screening_Manager_Part_I.pdf” target=”_blank”>Part 1 | IRS_Screening_Manager_Part_II.pdf” target=”_blank”>Part 2

The IRS employee in question, whose name is redacted in the transcript but who has been identified as John Shafer, said an employee first tipped him off in February 2010 to a case he thought could be “high-profile” because of media attention he had seen at the time.

Mr. Shafer was asked later whether it was his impression that the case was flagged because of the worker’s disagreement with the political views of the group.

“We never — never discussed any — any political, you know, personal aspirations whatsoever,” Mr. Shafer said.

Asked, “Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?” Mr. Shafer replied, “I have no reason to believe that.”

Mr. Shafer was then asked, “Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decisions to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?”

“I have no reason to believe that,” he said.

Mr. Cummings, in a letter to Mr. Issa dated June 18, says that the Republican lawmaker essentially forced his hand by not meeting a deadline the Democrat gave to object to any additional portions of the transcript that should be redacted.

Mr. Cummings asked him in a June 13 letter to review the transcript and identify any additional proposed redactions by June 17.

“You did not identify any specific text you believe should be withheld for any reason, and you did not identify any text that would compromise the Committee’s investigation if released,” Mr. Cummings wrote Tuesday.

Mr. Issa released a statement criticizing Mr. Cummings for releasing earlier selected excerpts from the very same transcript, and said that the move could compromise the joint investigation underway by the Oversight and Government Reform and Ways and Means Committees.

“I am deeply disappointed that Ranking Member Cummings has decided to broadly disseminate and post online a 205-page transcript that will serve as a roadmap for IRS officials to navigate investigative interviews with Congress,” Mr. Issa said. “His own previous release of excerpts from this very same transcript undermines his claims that the Committee is somehow trying to keep some specific revelation from public view.”

As Mr. Cummings acknowledges in the letter, though, IRS employees in D.C. did play a role in the improper targeting of conservative groups.

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