During the hearing, Werfel dodged and weaved. He used privacy, potential lawsuits, and personnel issues as excuses for why he couldn’t explain why, if there was no wrongdoing, some IRS personnel were let go (transferred, retired, shoved out, fired, forced to resign, promoted elsewhere, what have you).
Werfel also used the excuse of the ongoing investigation to evade answering questions. If there may be criminal charges, he wouldn’t want to muck things up, would he? He couldn’t say how long the investigation would be ongoing. (Past 2016?) He ran out the clock on many rounds of questioning–the representatives were given limited amounts of time during which to try to get to the truth.
Werfel couldn’t recall. He didn’t know. He wasn’t at the agency when that happened. He didn’t have that information at hand. He wasn’t aware of that. He very frequently didn’t have a “distinct recollection” of something. He didn’t understand the question.
There’s no evidence to support that. (Is he looking? Did he look? Will he look? This is typical Democrat evasion: There’s no evidence until there is. See “Monica Lewinsky” and “blue dress”. In a lawyerly world, if there’s no evidence brought to light, then it didn’t happen, even if it did. If you don’t look for or find the evidence, then it didn’t happen, in their world.)
Werfel didn’t find any “intentional” targeting. Another dodge. “What difference, at this point, does it make” whether or not the targeting was intentional? It’s the EFFECT of the targeting that’s the problem. The violation of these groups’ constitutional right to participate on an equal basis in the political process is the problem.
As of the date of that hearing, nobody from the IRS or the FBI had interviewed anyone belonging to the discriminated-against groups! What kind of investigation ignores the victims?
If Werfel doesn’t understand the effect of the targeting, then how can he fix the problem? How does he even know what the problem is? HOW will he restore the public trust, as he promised to do? He’s definitely not off to a good start, especially by participating in black propaganda, seemingly at the behest of the administration.
During the hearing, Werfel originally stated that nobody at the White House (WH) reviewed his misleading report in advance; but then he immediately backtracked, mentioning that he and Obama had specifically discussed Werfel’s conclusion that there’s “no evidence” of political influence.
[Rep. Tim] Griffin: Did anyone at the White House review this statement?
Griffin: No one?
Werfel: Not that I’m aware of.
Griffin: Okay. Anyone at Treasury?
Werfel: Yes… And let me just say, I did brief the President a few hours before the report went out – on the morning the report was issued – on Monday – and I did mention this conclusion. I just wanted to make sure that was clear.
It was wise of him to remember not to let his original two responses stand, because the WH had already issued a press release noting that Obama was “briefed” on the report. Treasury Secretary Lew was present at that briefing, too.
Obviously, the Obama administration was keeping close tabs on how Werfel was going to spin (whirl) his report. How to explain his original response, though? Does he not consider the president to be among “anyone at the White House?” We know that some claim that Obama uses a “hidden hand” to run things, while others believe someone else is actually the power behind the Oval Office, but for Werfel to initially not include Obama as being “anyone at the White House?” Now that’s passing strange.
Does this situation remind you of the numerous iterations of the Benghazi talking points? We begin to see a pattern of a supposedly hands-off president micromanaging how SCANDALS are spun, all to protect himself politically.
Early on in this scandal, Obama falsely stated that the IRS is an “independent agency.” Yet former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the WH 157 times over the period of Tea Party persecution, according to the WH visitor log. Shulman’s chief of staff visited the WH as many as 310 times, according to the same log. Both facts suggest that something going on at the IRS was being very closely monitored by the Obama administration during the campaign, despite that Obama pretended to be hands off with regard to this “independent agency.”
Perhaps most egregious, during the hearing Werfel seemed to blame the victims by stating that when their applications were sent to political limbo, when they were being systematically targeted and denied the ability to participate in the 2010-2012 campaigns, they should have complained to the IRS! According to Werfel’s report, they should have used the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Speaking of the Taxpayer Advocate: Not long after Werfel’s report came out, the advocate (Nina Olson) issued a report of her own, in which she concluded that
the tax agency’s Exempt Organizations unit trampled on eight of 10 rights in her Taxpayers Bill of Rights.
“Today, the IRS is an institution in crisis,” wrote Olson, who heads a semi-independent unit of the IRS that looks out for taxpayer interests. “As a consequence of this crisis, the IRS gives limited consideration to taxpayer rights or fundamental tax administration principles as it struggles to get its job done.” …
The IRS is supposed to report to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) any time there’s a delay of more than 30 days beyond normal processing times, or any time there’s a systemic breakdown. The Exempt Organizations unit did neither — instead arguing that taxpayer advocates weren’t necessary.
Why didn’t the IRS refer these delays to the Taxpayer Advocate? Anyone care to hazard a guess?
To illustrate that this scandal isn’t going away, despite Mr. Whirl’s yeoman-like attempt to bury it, another hearing is scheduled for tomorrow:
Thursday’s Oversight Committee hearing on the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups is likely to be a showdown between Internal Revenue Service officials based in Washington, D.C., and a Cincinnati agent who accused them of micromanaging her work. Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa is calling Washington lawyers Carter Hull and Steven Grodnitzky as well as a Cincinnati-based agent, Elizabeth Hofacre, to testify on Thursday, according to a congressional source. …
The witnesses called to the hearing reflect the shift in the committee’s investigation away from the IRS’s Cincinnati office and toward the agency’s headquarters in Washington. Questions from lawmakers are likely to focus on who in D.C. asked that tea-party applications be elevated for review, who wrote and approved the intrusive questions sent to so many groups, and why their applications were not processed efficiently.
Top House committee chairmen said Wednesday [today] that they have learned that the IRS sent some tea party groups’ applications for tax-exempt status through special scrutiny at the direction of agency officials in Washington, in a revelation that appears to confirm political targeting.
The committee chairmen released partial excerpts of interviews with IRS employees that show they were prepared to rule on some of the tea party groups’ applications, but Lois Lerner, an official at the root of the investigation, overruled them and instead created the complex and intrusive inquiries that have become the center of a Washington scandal.
Carter Hull, a tax law specialist with 48 years of experience at the IRS, said he was told to send some of the applications to the IRS‘ chief counsel’s office. The chief counsel is one of two political appointees in the IRS. …
[E]very group with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in its name was subject to special scrutiny by the IRS.