A Republican lawmaker clashed with a top Justice Department official Friday over the administration's refusal to disclose even the most basic information about its probe of the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups.
"Can you tell me who is leading the investigation? There has to be someone in charge," Rep. Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, fumed at Acting Assistant Attorney General David O'Neil during a congressional hearing on an unrelated topic.
Mr. O'Neil, who oversees the department's Criminal Investigation Division that is conducting the probe, would not name the lead investigator nor say how many prosecutors were involved.
"I've been trying to get this answer now for 11 months," a visibly frustrated Mr. Jordan continued. "Is this an important case for the Justice Department, finding out how people's First Amendment rights were violated and they were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service? Is this an important case?"
Mr. O'Neil said he disagree with Mr. Jordan's "characterization of the investigation," but confirmed that it was "an important case."
Mr. Jordan pressed Mr. O'Neil to back the resolution passed by a bipartisan vote Wednesday calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the investigation.
"Do you think we need a special counsel? Do you agree with the 26 Democrats who agreed with us with that resolution?"
Mr. O'Neil held firm. "I think the answer is that no a special counsel is not warranted."
"I hope the attorney general will listen to what 26 fellow Democrats in the House of Representative had to say earlier this week when they voted ... that we need a special counsel," Mr. Jordan concluded.
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