House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has spent the better part of his recent career grilling officials close to the Barack Obama White House for what many conservatives see as gross Administration failures— from the Fast and Furious gunrunning debacle to the Benghazi terror attack and, more recently, the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives.
Issa is now catching heat from Democrats, and some Republicans (in name only), for remarks he made during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” during a discussion about the IRS scandal, which the lawmaker says is “a problem that was coordinated, in all likelihood, right out of Washington headquarters.”
“Their paid liar, their spokesperson, the picture behind, he’s still making up things about what happened and calling this a local rogue,” said Issa, pointing to a picture of Jay Carney.
“The reason that Lois Lerner tried to take the Fifth [amendment] is not because there’s a rogue in Cincinnati,” he added. “It’s because this is a problem that was coordinated, in all likelihood, right out of Washington headquarters.”
“The President’s spokesman – spokesperson – is saying whatever’s convenient at the time. The story changes,” he concluded.
During a press briefing Monday, Carney told reporters asking about the lawmaker’s remarks, “I hadn’t heard that. That’s amazing.”
The White House press secretary went on to say that he would not respond to Issa’s accusation. Carney said he believed his detractors take issue with the Inspector General’s report he read during press briefings, which found no evidence of influence or pressure from higher-ups on the IRS officials who targeted conservatives.
Carney said last month when lawmakers urged the White House to investigate the IRS actions, “My understanding is that this matter is under investigation by the [Inspector General] at the IRS.”
“The IRS, as you know, is an independent enforcement agency with only two political appointees,” he continued. “The fact of the matter is what we know about this is of concern. And we certainly find the actions taken, as reported, to be inappropriate. And we would fully expect the investigation to be thorough and for corrections to be made.”
Carney also previously shrugged off any chance that the IRS targeting was politically motivated by saying “the individual running it at the time was actually an appointee from the previous administration.”
The Inspector General report and Carney’s remarks, of course, run contrary to transcripts of Congressional interviews with Cincinnati IRS employees released over the weekend by Issa’s Oversight Committee. In the transcripts the employees say things like the following:
Investigator: “But just to be clear, she told you the specific names of these applicants.”
IRS employee: “Yes.”
Investigator: “And she told you that Washington, D.C. had requested these two specific applications be sent to D.C.”
IRS employee: “Yes, or parts of them.”
And even more damning, that particular IRS employee went on to say:
Investigator: “So is it your perspective that ultimately the responsible parties for the decisions that were reported by the IG are not in the Cincinnati office?”
IRS employee: “I don’t know how to answer that question. I mean, from an agent standpoint, we didn’t do anything wrong. We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do.”
Investigator: “And you ultimately followed directions from Washington; is that correct?”
IRS employee: “If direction had come down from Washington, yes.”
Investigator: “But with respect to the particular scrutiny that was given to Tea Party applications, those directions emanated from Washington; is that right?”
IRS employee: “I believe so.”
Even if Carney’s previous statements about the IRS scandal, when looked at next to the evidence Issa is bent on digging up, do make the press secretary look a bit like a “paid liar,” some among the political class have criticized the lawmaker’s remarks.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CBS, “I never like to use that word, I think we should let these investigations run their course, let the facts come out. You’ve got to admit, these last couple of hearings where the person who, really, was in the chain of command to the Fifth Amendment, where an individual who said he was at the White House for an Easter egg roll—and he was there 170 times.”
MSNBC’s token RINO Joe Scarborough attacked Issa, saying the remark removes any credibility conservatives had investigating the scandals.
“Darrell Issa hurts himself and his cause more than Jay Carney or the White House when he calls him a ‘paid liar,’” Scarborough said.
“If you’re in this position — as a chairman responsible for these investigations — that just basically announces to everybody — I’m not saying he is — ‘I’m a partisan. Anything that I conclude is based on my partisan beliefs,’” Scarborough added. “You’ve got to pull back. You can’t say things like this.”
And former Obama “paid liar” Robert Gibbs sided with Scarborough, saying that Issa should apologize for the jibe. Gibbs went on to take a swing at Issa, saying that the lawmaker’s position as chairman of the House Oversight Committee possibly is the “biggest joke in all of Washington.”
“I mean, it’s a stunning thing,” Gibbs said. “It’s why five people in this town take Darrell Issa seriously and it’s the surest bet the Republicans are very much on the verge of overplaying their hand publicly and the American people will lose interest in their side of this. They want to see the IRS cleaned up, but they will understand quickly that Darrell Issa is doing nothing more than politicizing this event.”
So basically the story is this: If you are an Obama supporter or a moderate Republican with close ties to the White House, it is inconceivable that the President’s spokesman is nothing more than a public relations hack paid to spin facts. And if you are a conservative, reading transcripts of sworn Congressional testimony that make the White House spokesman’s answers to reporter questions seem questionable in their honesty… you’re obviously nuts.