Republican Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa responded to the controversy surrounding Wednesday’s hearing on IRS targeting, claiming he shut off Democratic ranking member Elijah Cumming’s mic because he was “endlessly slandering the efforts of the committee.”
Issa spoke with Fox News’ Greta van Susteren about the explosive Wednesday hearing, which saw disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner again take the Fifth over Tea Party targeting and Cummings explode into an angry tirade after trying to ask a question following the hearing’s adjournment.
Cummings tried to explain his outburst to a reporter.
“To date, I have not seen any evidence that shows where this was politically motivated, or that the White House had anything to do with it,” he said. “And yet still those assertions are being made by Republicans. I’ve said over and over again, all I want is the truth.”
The ranking member added that Issa “barr[ed] him from uttering one syllable . . . I thought it was extremely unfortunate. That is just not the way a democracy runs. This is still America . . . You can’t have a hearing without hearing one syllable from the other side!”
Issa disputed Cummings’ characterization. “Mr. Cummings is there with the president on ‘Not a smidgeon of evidence,'” the California congressman explained. “We’ve never sat in committee and said this leads to the president. As a matter of fact, our evidence leads to Lois Lerner — and that’s why we hoped to hear from her.”
“You know, if the ranking member had wanted to make a motion before I adjourned, I would’ve accepted it,” Issa said. “I adjourned. He then said he had a question. What you played there was — after the adjournment, he then perked up and said, ‘I wanna ask a question.’ I said, ‘What is your question?’ And then that exchange occurred, because he didn’t have a question. He was just endlessly slandering the efforts of the committee.”
The oversight chair claimed that Lerner’s attorney, “in writing, had supported the idea that she would testify under certain conditions. As we began rolling out a little bit of what we intended to do in the hearing as far as questions, she decided not to testify.”
Issa also hit Cummings for his divergent interpretation of evidence pointing to Tea Party targeting by the IRS.
“When the discovery comes in from the IRS, it comes to both of us together,” he said, explaining that Cummings and his staff get the same information as he does. “So simultaneously they’ve been receiving the same emails, the same information. They’ve been in every single one of 33 interviews. This is not something where we’re asking questions behind closed doors.”
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