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Top Ten Unsubstantiated Republican Claims on Justice Department's IRS Investigation

Jul 16, 2014
Press Release
Cummings and Cartwright Issue New Memo with Transcript Excerpts Showing No Political Motivation or Targeting of Conservative Groups

Washington, DC —Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Matthew Cartwright, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, released a memo for tomorrow’s hearing with the Deputy Attorney General of the United States debunking the Top Ten accusations made by Republicans about the Justice Department’s investigation of the treatment of tax-exempt applicants by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, and other Republicans have made a wide range of very serious accusations against numerous Justice Department officials, claiming that they are not adequately pursuing the investigation, that they have multiple conflicts of interest, that they are criminally obstructing the Committee’s investigation, and that they have joined with the White House, the IRS, and other agencies in a government-wide conspiracy to target conservative organizations. 

The Democratic memo demonstrates that the evidence obtained during the Committee’s investigation does not support these extreme accusations, and it sets forth new excerpts from transcripts of interviews with Justice Department and IRS officials.

A summary of the Top Ten Republican accusations as well as the facts debunking them is set forth below, and the detailed memo can be found here.

1.         Claim That Justice Department Already Concluded Investigation

            Republicans have accused the Department of closing the criminal investigation prematurely for political reasons, but their claims are based on anonymous sources in a single press account, and Department officials have stated repeatedly that the criminal investigation remains open and active.

2.         Claim That Justice Department Obstructing Committee Investigation

            Republicans have accused the Department of obstructing the Committee’s investigation by refusing to provide more information about the status of its investigation, but the Department has explained that both Republican and Democratic administrations have followed the longstanding Executive Branch policy of not disclosing detailed information about ongoing criminal investigations.

3.         Claim That Lead Attorney Has Conflict of Interest

            Republicans have accused the Department of compromising the investigation by assigning a lead attorney who previously made donations to President Obama’s campaigns, but the Department has explained that she is not the lead attorney and that she is in full compliance with all laws and ethics rules governing Department employees.

4.         Claim That Justice Department Created Illicit Registry

            Republicans have accused the Department of conspiring with the IRS to create a massive and illicit database of confidential taxpayer information as part of an effort to target conservative organizations, but these claims are wildly inaccurate because information provided to the Department by the IRS was predominantly publicly available and was never actually reviewed or used for any investigations or prosecutions.

5.         Claim That Special Counsel Needed

            Republicans passed a Resolution on the House floor calling on the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to conduct the criminal investigation, but it relies on many of the same Republican claims that have already been debunked, and the Department has explained why a special counsel is not warranted in this case.

6.         Claim That Justice Department Ignoring Ways and Means Referral

            Republicans have accused the Department of ignoring a referral letter sent by the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means alleging criminal violations by Lois Lerner, but despite major factual errors and unsubstantiated claims in the letter, the Department has pledged to carefully consider it as part of its ongoing investigation.

7.         Claim That Justice Department Ignoring Deliberate Computer Crash

            Republicans have accused the Department of ignoring what they allege is the intentional destruction of Lois Lerner’s computer hard drive in an effort to conceal her emails, but contemporaneous documents and other evidence obtained by the Committee indicate that her computer crash was not deliberate, but rather was caused by a technological malfunction.

8.         Claim That Justice Department Motivated by Politics

            Republicans have accused the Department of failing to actively pursue the criminal investigation because of political motivations, but the Committee has obtained no evidence to support these claims.

9.         Claim That Prominent Democrats Prompted Targeting

            Republicans have accused the Department of conspiring with the IRS to single out conservative groups for potential prosecution in response to pressure from prominent Democrats, but these claims have been refuted during transcribed interviews conducted by Committee staff.

10.       Claim That Citizens United Prompted Targeting

            Republicans claim that the targeting of conservative groups is a government-wide conspiracy initiated after the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United involving the President, the IRS, the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Elections Commission, and other agencies, but the Committee has obtained no evidence linking these claims to the inappropriate criteria used by IRS employees in Cincinnati to screen applications for tax-exempt status, which was the basis for the Inspector General’s report.

113th Congress