Arguing that the congressional investigation into the IRS should be concluded, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said Sunday that closed-door interviews with the agency's staff show neither the White House nor officials in Washington had a hand in targeting conservative groups for added scrutiny.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been conducting interviews for several days with managers in the Internal Revenue Service’s Cincinnati office, which is responsible for reviewing applications for tax exempt status.
Cummings, the top-ranking Democrat on that committee, released snippets of a transcript from an interview with a 21-year manager in that office, a man who describes himself as a "conservative Republican," who said he had no reason to believe the White House was involved in the scandal.
"I think this interview and these statements go a long way toward showing that the White House was not involved in this. This thing started with this guy -- it started with a screener in this unit," the Baltimore Democrat said on CNN's State of the Union -- one of two political shows he appeared on Sunday morning.
"Based on everything that I've seen, the case is solved," Cummings said, adding that he would release the transcripts from the interviews by the end of this week if the Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, did not.
But Cummings' assessment is not likely to quiet the uproar over revelations that the IRS singled out for additional scrutiny groups with the words "tea party" or "freedom" in their names. Issa has said other interviews conducted by the committee suggest the employees in Cincinnati were being "directly ordered" from Washington.
On Sunday, Issa issued a statement in response to Cummings' comments, saying he "strongly" disagreed.
"His extreme and reckless assertions are a signal that his true motivation is stopping needed Congressional oversight and he has no genuine interest in working, on a bipartisan basis, to expose the full truth," Issa said.
"The American public wants to know why targeting occurred and who was involved," he said. "The only thing Ranking Member Cummings left clear in his comments today is that if it were up to him the investigation would be closed. Fortunately, the decision to close the investigation is not his to make."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun