Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking Democratic member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, powerplayed committee Chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) when he released the full transcripts of an interview, believed to “debunk conspiracy theories” about the IRS Tea Party investigation. This release adds one more rotation in the revolving door of IRS scandal discovery and testimony.
The transcripts that Cummings released are from an interview between the House Oversight Committee and “conservative Republican” IRS screening group manager John Shafer of Cincinnati. From the transcripts, its seems that Shafer’s testimony absolved the White House of any involvement with the IRS’s Tea Party investigation. The Republicans are wanting as little to be released as possible because they fear it may minimize the scandal, thus weakening their political assault on Obama.
The committee asked Shafer if he had “any reason to believe” if any associate in the White House “was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases” and “the decision to centralize the review of Tea Party cases,” to which Shafer responded that he had “no reason to believe that.”
The transcript’s release came in the wake of accusations against Issa for cherry-picking which items of the interview he wanted released to the public. Cummings challenged Issa to full disclosure but when Issa didn’t deliver, Cummings went ahead and released the transcripts anyway. Cummings said of the transcripts that “these facts are a far cry from accusations of a conspiracy orchestrated by the White House to target the president’s political enemies.”
There has been intense bickering between Issa and Cummings about the disclosure of the transcripts and the effects of it. This “scandal” and supposed investigation is degrading itself into a politicized game of committee “pong,” with points meandering from one side to the other.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.