Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is now admitting that unlike his previous assertion, the investigation into the IRS scandal is not “solved.” Cummings had appeared on CNN’s State of the Union last Sunday, and when Candy Crowley asked, “As far as you are concerned, based on the information that you now have, which in its totality is greater than ours, is this case over, have you solved the case of the IRS and how this came to be?” responded, “Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved. If it were me, I’d wrap this case up and move on.”
Apparently Cummings told POLITICO on Wednesday that what he really meant was that the IRS investigation has proven that the Obama administration was innocent of telling the IRS to target conservative groups.
Cummings stated, “The witch hunt needs to end. What I meant was the witch hunt.”
Cummings admitted that the investigation should continue and he favors interrogating additional Cincinnati-based IRS employees.
Oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) had taken Cummings to the woodshed on Tuesday, writing him a letter stating, “Your public comments that ‘the case is solved’ and that you would ‘wrap this case up and move on’ stand in stark contrast to the facts. There is still much that we do not know about how and why certain applications for tax-exempt status were denied, delayed or otherwise received heightened scrutiny from the IRS.”
Cummings huffed that the GOP response to his comments was “ridiculous” and a “distraction” from transcripts he released that argued that a self-identified conservative IRS employee claimed responsibility for singling out tea party tax exempt applications. Cummings puffed, “Notice, they didn’t deal with what I pointed out. This is like a distraction for them, that Cummings said ‘such-and-such.’ That’s bulls—.”
A Republican Oversight source said the panel may use Cummings’ public comments to prove that he will not work in concert with Issa. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who is in charge of a separate investigation into the IRS scandal, said that despite the claims of the IRS, the targeting of conservative groups did not originate in Cincinnati.
Cummings’ comment that the problem had been “solved” was not echoed in unison by fellow Democrats. Ways and Means member Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said, “The issue of how the IRS got to the point of trying to examine more closely selected applications for 501(c)(4) status — that I don’t think is done. We still have more information to collect.” Ways and Means ranking Democrat Sander Levin of Michigan agreed: “The [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration] is continuing their investigation, the Justice Department is continuing their investigation and the IRS is continuing their investigation. I think there’s more work to be done. I think that both Elijah and I both believe that. … I don’t think anybody thinks it’s over.”