Outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who was ostensibly fired by Barack Obama after the IRS scandal came to light, claimed during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing that the actions of the IRS in targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status was “absolutely not illegal.”
When questioned by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Miller tried to avoid the question until Price forced him to give a direct answer to the legality of the IRS’s actions:
STEVEN MILLER, IRS COMMISSIONER: I think, are you talking about the letters?
REP. PRICE: Saying that there is a parallel here in the expansive nature of what the IRS has done, would you care to recharacterize the unnecessary word? Is it illegal what they have done?
MILLER: It is absolutely not illegal.
PRICE: It’s not illegal what the IRS has done?
MILLER: Let me understand the question. What is your statement as to what is illegal?
PRICE: Do you believe it is illegal for employees of the IRS to create lists to target individual groups and citizens in this country?
MILLER: I think the Treasury inspector general indicated that it might not be, but others will be able to tell that.
PRICE: What do you believe?
MILLER: I don’t believe it is.
Miller offered an apology for the IRS’s actions at the beginning of his testimony but suggested that incompetence, not partisanship, was the cause of the targeting: “I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people that engaged in the practices described in the inspector general’s report. Foolish mistakes were made by people who were trying to be more efficient in their work…”
“Generally, we provided horrible customer service here. I will admit that, we did. Horrible customer service,” Miller admitted. “Whether it is politically motivated or not is a very different question.”