As the Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal deepens, with increased questions about two years of missing emails by key figures in the controversy, Democrats appear to be adopting the phrase “conspiracy theories” to describe the investigations.
Principal Deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks to the media during his last briefing before taking over as press secretary, Friday, June 20, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
White House spokesman Josh Earnest used the phrase several times during the Friday press briefing, and insisted the investigation was “politically motivated.”
“I think that many Republicans, particularly in the House, have demonstrated a pretty aggressive appetite for investigating this issue,” Earnest said, responding to a question about whether there would be a special prosecutor appointed. “You've seen extensive cooperation from the Internal Revenue Service and members of the Obama administration in that investigation.”
Earnest said there have been 750,000 pages of documents provided to congressional investigators, and pointed to the fact that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was testifying on Capitol Hill as evidence of cooperation.
However, the emails Lerner and six other IRS employees is missing, which Earnest said was only because of a computer crash.
“There have been a large number of claims and conspiracy theories that were floated about this process by Republicans that have just not panned out and we've demonstrated our willingness to cooperate with them on legitimate oversight,” Earnest said. “We'll continue to cooperate. That's why there's been the testimony you've seen today because there are senior Obama administration officials that are going up there and answering all of these questions – again some of which are rooted in the kinds of conspiracy theories that don't have any truth to them.”
Earnest made his repeated references to “conspiracy theories,” the same day that Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) equated questions about Benghazi and the IRS targeting to UFO sightings and birthers.
Doggett sarcastically asked Koskinen during the hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee hearing Friday about Benghazi, which the IRS had nothing to do with. He then moved to other
Doggett asked, “How about Area 51 out in Roswell, New Mexico, where all those space aliens allegedly came? Have you ever had any responsibility for that?”
Koskinen answered, “No.”
Doggett followed, “Have you ever had custody of the president’s birth certificate?”
“No,” Koskinen replied.
Doggett said, “I believe one of the mistakes that you’ve made in dealing with the committee today is that you did assume professionally that this is a serious inquiry. I believe it’s an endless conspiracy theory here.”