Saturday, May 18, 2013

Grilling the IRS

Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Congress’ Ways and Means Committee held a hearing today with acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller to investigate IRS abuses against conservative groups. One of the revelations concerned a question that IRS official Lois Lerner was asked during her May 10 appearance on a conference panel. In response to a question from Celia Roady, who was sitting in the audience, Lerner for the first time publicly revealed that the IRS had targeted conservative groups.   
Responding to my questioning during today’s hearing, Steven Miller admitted that Roady’s question to Lerner was orchestrated in advance. Note that just two days before that, Lerner had appeared before the Ways and Means Committee and never mentioned the targeting of conservatives. Instead of admitting these abuses to Congress, Lerner and Miller apparently believed the impact of the abuses would be reduced if they were first revealed during a conference panel, in response to a scripted question designed to appear spontaneous. After Miller’s testimony today, Roady admitted that her question was pre-arranged with Lerner.

You can watch my questioning of Miller here, and read about the exchange here and here.

While we made some progress today in bringing the truth to light, there are still a lot of unanswered questions, including who ordered the abuses, whether any government officials outside the IRS were involved, and why IRS representatives outright lied to Congress about this for so long.

You have not heard the end of this story. More likely, it’s just the beginning.    

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Yet another Obama administration scandal

It’s recently been revealed that the Department of Justice accessed phone records from the Associated Press while investigating a national security leak. This included seizing AP phone records from the House of Representatives Press Gallery, which is often used for phone conversations between reporters and Members of Congress. I explain my views on the issue in a new article here.  
These investigative tactics, especially when considered together with recently revealed IRS abuses and the Obama administration’s dissembling about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, provoke serious concerns about this administration’s commitment to transparency and the rule of law.
Congress will continue investigating these matters, and rest assured that we will hold accountable anyone who abused the public’s trust.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Benghazi Whitewash

Shocking testimony from Gregory Hicks, a top U.S. official in Libya during the September attack on our Benghazi consulate, makes it increasingly clear that the Obama administration misled the American people about the Benghazi assault.

All the emerging evidence shows that the administration tried to spin the Benghazi story to match its triumphant claim that al Qaeda is all but eliminated. A deadly attack on a U.S. consulate by al Qaeda-linked terrorists doesn’t fit the narrative, so the administration dismissed intelligence reports revealing that known terrorists were involved in the attack, insisting instead that it evolved out of a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islamic YouTube video.  

The Weekly Standard today offers new details about Obama officials’ removal of references to al Qaeda and affiliated groups from the CIA’s initial talking points on the attack. (The magazine’s graphic showing the editing of the talking points is below.) This supports the damning findings of an interim investigative report released by five congressional committees, which found that White House and top State Department officials altered the talking points to protect the State Department from criticism; that contrary to administration claims, the talking points were not changed to protect classified information; and that pre-attack reductions in security levels at the Benghazi consulate were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, which contradicts Hillary Clinton’s statements on the issue.    

Then there is the testimony of Hicks himself. Having reported from Libya that the consulate was under terrorist attack, he described to a House committee his shock when he first heard the administration’s false narrative. After challenging its story, he was effectively demoted.

In the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, we will continue to demand an honest explanation of the Benghazi attack and a full account of what seems to be a coordinated cover-up. Four Americans were killed in Benghazi, and the American people deserve to know exactly what happened there and why they were not told the truth.