Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party favorite and on the short list of Republicans considering a 2016 presidential bid, railed against FBI Director James Comey's handling of the IRS investigation that targeted tea party nonprofit applicants for undue examination.
"I want to talk to you about the IRS targeting of American citizens and what I view as a persistent stonewalling from the administration on this matter," Mr. Cruz said. "It has been 372 days, just over a year, since President Obama and Attorney General Holder both publicly stated that they were outraged at the IRS' improper targeting of conservative groups and individuals.
"And yet, despite the passage of time, very little has happened," Mr. Cruz said. "Barely a year ago, when you were before this committee for your confirmation, I asked you about this investigation, and you stated at the time it was, quote, 'a very high priority for the FBI.' I'd like to ask you, to date, how many victims or alleged victims of improper targeting have been interviewed by the FBI?"
Mr. Comey responded: "Because it is a pending investigation, I can't talk about the particulars of the interviews we've done."
Mr. Cruz then asked how many White House employees had been interviewed, which Mr. Comey declined to say. Then the senator asked how many people had been indicted.
"I guess I can answer that because it's public — none," Mr. Comey said.
Mr. Cruz responded: "When the president of the United States stands up and says the American people have a right to be angry, one, we have a reason to expect that an investigation will be thorough and there will be some accountability. The answer for over a year from the FBI and Justice has been, the pending investigation will tell you nothing about it."
Mr. Cruz also took aim at the administration appointing Barbara Bosserman, who donated more than $6,000 to President Obama's election campaigns, to the case. Mr. Cruz compared the appointment to that of John Mitchell investigating President Nixon — and then asked the FBI director if he thought that would've been OK.
"I think that's an impossible one for me to answer at this point," Mr. Comey said, adding that politics aside, all the FBI is interested in is "the facts and our independence."
Mr. Cruz was eventually interrupted by the chairman of the committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, who said Mr. Comey had answered his questions the best he could.
"I would note for the record that when I introduced an amendment before this committee to make it a criminal offense to willfully target American citizens based on their political views, the chairman and every Democratic member of this committee voted against it," Mr. Cruz said. "I understand that there is not an interest among some members of this body in learning what happened."
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