WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) --Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has accused the Internal Revenue Service of obstructing congressional investigations into the IRS' targeting of conservative organizations, saying the agency been unjustifiably slow in producing documents. When documents are produced, he said, many are so thoroughly blacked out that they are useless to investigators.
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Issa said he plans to bypass IRS lawyers and will subpoena documents directly from the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS.
"You are slow-rolling us," Issa told acting IRS head Danny Werfel in a heated exchange during a committee hearing Friday. "There are important facts to get out, and you are obstructing."
"That is not true," Werfel fired back, denying the allegations.
At one point, Issa held up a sheet of paper that had nothing but a giant black square, asking Werfel whether the page honestly had nothing but confidential information. At another, he held up a page with the names blacked out, which he said he could understand, but the corresponding rows and columns also had their titles removed, making the numbers meaningless.
"I'll tell you one thing," Issa warned. "As these pages, which are almost impossible to figure out where they came from, are gone through by the Ways and Means Committee, you'd better hope, you'd better really hope, that we don't find something there that clearly should not have been redacted, which we expect we will."
Issa said Werfel should have simply "handed over the keys," so to speak, to investigators, and that there is no reason why they should be getting the documents only as the IRS allows them to be released.
"Go back and soul-search with that legion of attorneys, and say, how in the world can we keep victims a secret? And that's what you're doing today..." Issa said. "As you go off into your private life, I want you to think about the legacy of whether you helped victims, or hindered this investigation."
National Review posted video of part of the exchange:
Three congressional committees are investigating the IRS for improperly targeting tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status from 2010 to 2012.
Werfel said that by the end of the day Friday, the IRS will have given more than 16,000 pages of documents to Issa's committee and more than 70,000 pages to Congress as a whole.
But Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, released an interim report Friday on the Senate Finance Committee's investigation saying: "The IRS needs to be more cooperative in providing us with the documents needed to fully carry out this investigation."
The IRS said in May that agents working in a Cincinnati office had improperly singled out tea party groups for extra scrutiny, but it has since been revealed that the issue went all the way to the chief counsel's office.
On Thursday, President Obama nominated John Koskinen, a retired corporate and government official, to a five-year term as IRS commissioner. Koskinen's nomination is subject to Senate approval.
Other Must-Read Stories:
- Local News Reporter: IRS Started ‘Hammering’ Me After Tough Obama Interview
- Beck: What If Obama Admin. Isn’t Lying About the Scandals?
- Beck Ties Together Benghazi, IRS, & AP Scandals: ‘Fundamental Transformation’
- Howard Dean: Benghazi Controversy ‘Silly’ and a ‘Laughable Joke’
- White House: ‘Irrelevant Fact’ Where Obama Was During Benghazi