House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa opened Tuesday’s hearing on the IRS with an exasperated exchange with Obama administration lawyer Jennifer O’Connor, labeling her “a hostile witness” and insisting she simply answer questions over the IRS’ document collection.
O’Connor — who now works in the White House Counsel’s office but previously helped the IRS collect investigative materials such as Lois Lerner’s emails — was subpoenaed Monday night by Issa following an extremely contentious hearing with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“Ms. O’Connor, you declined to come here voluntarily so we subpoenaed you,” Issa began. “Clearly you’re not pleased to be here, but it is important that you’re here.”
“You were at the IRS and hired when we began our investigation and requested selected documents in May of 2013, is that correct?” he asked.
“I started on May 30th,” O’Connor replied.
“Ok, so they hired you as soon as we said we want a bunch of documents, correct?” the chairman continued.
“Um, Mr. Werfel, who was the acting commissioner –” she began before being interrupted.
“Just — yes or no please,” Issa snapped. “You’re a hostile witness! Yes or no, were you hired?”
“I’m — I’m not at all a hostile witness,” O’Connor smiled nervously.
“Yes you are,” Issa shot back, ordering O’Connor to provide a detailed account of how the IRS’ production of Lerner’s emails unfolded since last August.
The chairman later clarified he had meant to call O’Connor “uncooperative.”