Two employees from the Internal Revenue Service's Cincinnati office involved in the targeting of conservative groups have met with House investigators, but exactly what was learned from those interviews varies greatly depending on which lawmaker you ask — and which excerpts each has chosen to release to the public.
By this Friday, it looks like the public will be able to make its own decision.
A back-and-forth between Reps. Darrell E. Issa and Elijah E. Cummings came to a head Sunday when Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, promised to release the full transcripts from the interviews by the end of the week, something that the news media repeatedly have been requesting.
Mr. Cummings said Mr. Issa, as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, should be the one to release the transcripts, but he will do so if the California Republican refuses.
Mr. Issa's committee so far has chosen not to release the full transcripts, citing the fact that there is an ongoing investigation. On Sunday, Mr. Cummings, who is the committee's ranking Democrat, released his own set of excerpts appearing to support his case that neither the White House nor the IRS headquarters in Washington pushed for extra scrutiny of the conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
In a letter dated Sunday to Mr. Issa, Mr. Cummings said information from one of the IRS managers — a 21-year veteran of the agency and self-described conservative Republican — rejected any suggestion that political considerations played a role in his actions or those of his screeners.
"The case is solved," said Mr. Cummings, adding on CNN's "State of the Union" that lawmakers should "wrap this up and move on."
He condemned Mr. Issa for his behavior over the IRS controversy and other investigations by the committee, including Operation Fast and Furious and Benghazi, saying the committee's integrity must be maintained and that Mr. Issa can't continue to "make wild accusations."
"Your actions over the past three years do not reflect a responsible, bipartisan approach to investigations, and the committee's credibility has been damaged as a result," Mr. Cummings wrote.
Mr. Issa, he said, "has a tendency to make strong allegations and then go chasing the facts and usually never finding them."
However, Mr. Cummings explicitly stopped short of calling Mr. Issa a liar, saying he would never use that word, an obvious reference to Mr. Issa calling White House spokesman Jay Carney a "paid liar" on the previous weekend's Sunday political talk shows.
"Those kinds of words are inappropriate on Capitol Hill," Mr. Cummings said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Mr. Issa was quick to respond to Mr. Cummings' statements, saying the "extreme and reckless assertions are a signal that his true motivation is stopping needed congressional oversight."
"He has no genuine interest in working, on a bipartisan basis, to expose the full truth," Mr. Issa continued. "Fortunately, the decision to close the investigation is not his to make."
Mr. Issa has remained steadfast in his belief that the IRS actions probably were coordinated out of Washington headquarters and that the committee is "getting to proving it."
"My gut tells me that too many people knew this wrongdoing was going on before the election, and at least by some sort of convenient, benign neglect, allowed it to go on through the election," he said last week. "I'm not making any allegations as to motive, that they set out to do it, but certainly people knew it was happening."
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