There is no evidence that the FBI has contacted a single tea party group in its criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service, according to the groups the IRS abused.
“We have not been contacted by any federal investigative agency and, to date, none of our clients have been contacted or interviewed by the FBI,” Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice told The Daily Caller on Thursday. The ACLJ has filed suit against the IRS on behalf of 25 conservative groups, with additional groups being added in the next couple weeks, according to a spokesman.
“I have been very surprised that I have not heard from anybody and frankly, none of my clients have. I talk to other tea party leaders on a regular basis,” said Cleta Mitchell, the lawyer largely credited with pushing the IRS abuses to the forefront.
“It’s been a month and I can’t see any evidence of an investigation of the IRS,” Mitchell told TheDC Thursday. She represents nine tea party groups targeted by the IRS.
Tea Party Patriots — a group with thousands of local chapters — “has not been contacted by the FBI” either, according to Jameson Cunningham, the group’s spokesman.
The revelation suggests that the FBI is in no hurry to get to the bottom of the scandal, despite the Obama administration’s promise to investigate the IRS’s multi-year abuse of conservative groups.
President Obama on May 15, 2013 (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
“Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” Obama said in a White House statement on May 15. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.” (RELATED: Independents blame White House for IRS scandal)
Attorney General Eric Holder promised in mid-May that the FBI would get to the bottom of the IRS’s behavior by opening a criminal investigation.
Attorney General Eric Holder (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
“I can assure you and the American people that we will take a dispassionate view of this,” Holder told congressional investigators on May 15. “This will not be about parties, this will not be about ideological persuasions. Anybody who has broken the law will be held accountable.”
But in separate testimony before congressional investigators Thursday, FBI Director Robert Mueller seemed completely unaware of the progress of any such investigation.
FBI Director Robert Mueller (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan lit into Mueller for his lack of knowledge during a House judiciary committee hearing.
“This is the most important issue in front of the country in the last six weeks, and you don’t know who the lead investigator is?” Jordan asked, sounding shocked.
“At this juncture, no I do not,” Mueller responded.
“Do you know if you’ve talked to any of the victims?” Jordan went on. “Have you talked to any of the groups that were targeted by their government? Have you met with any of the tea party groups since May 14, 2013?”
“I don’t know what the status of the interviews are by the team that’s on it,” Mueller said.
Reached for comment Thursday afternoon, the FBI’s Washington, D.C. press office transferred TheDC to a long-ringing phone line and eventually hung up.