House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is refusing to release transcripts of IRS interviews that reportedly prove how Obama administration officials directed the IRS to target conservative groups, despite earlier promises to release them.
In a letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings, Issa retracted his pledge to release the transcripts, stating that it would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation and inhibit the committee’s ability to seek the truth.
By limiting the transcript’s release, Issa argues witnesses will feel more comfortable coming forward to talk about the agency’s targeting. Rather than release the transcripts on an arbitrary timeline, Issa hopes to release them with the progress of his committee’s investigation.
“Raising public awareness by releasing limited portions of transcripts decreases the likelihood that retaliations will occur,” Issa said. “When agency management know the press and Congress are watching, witnesses tend to be less likely to be demoted or fired.”
Cummings, who asserts that there was no White House involvement in the IRS targeting, said he would release the transcripts by the end of the week or on CNN with Issa.
“Chairman Issa changes his mind so fast that even when I agree him, we’re not on the same page,” Cummings said. “I fully support responsible oversight, but cherry picking transcript excerpts to fuel partisan and unsubstantiated claims is not a credible or effective way to investigate.”
Issa responded in his defense, saying Cummings was “playing politics” and accused the representative of shielding Obama and his administration from investigation.
“I trust that people can read and see exactly what happened,” Cummings said, noting that government, its officials and affairs should be transparent. “To me, no matter what the transcript says, there’s nothing to hide.”