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Will Elijah Cummings Release IRS Transcripts Later Today? (Updated)

Last week Doug posted about the controversy brewing over the House oversight committee’s IRS interview transcripts. On June 2nd, Darrell Issa released selected transcripts from interviews with IRS agents involved with the inappropriate flagging of Tea Party 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) applications (a topic I’ve written about numerous times). During an appearance he made on CNN’s State of the Nation on the same day, Issa made multiple promises that his committee would release the complete transcripts of those interviews. Yet, to date, no further transcript material has been released by the oversight committee.

As Doug wrote, this has led Elijah Cummings, the ranking democrat on the committee to release some additional transcripts excerpts. Then, last Thursday, June 13th, Cummings stepped things up and notch, an sent a letter to Issa asking for the release of the transcripts. As the Washington Post reports, the letter requested a response from Issa by today.

So far, Issa’s office has yet to respond to the letter. If they choose to, chances are the response will echo what Issa has previously stated — that a full release of the transcripts would undercut the committee’s investigation.

If Issa decides to play chicken and not respond, all eyes will be on Cummings. Given his current frustrations with this investigation, its entirely possible that Cummings will release some, if not all, of the transcripts.

Like Doug, I have a hard time seeing what the committee gains from keeping the transcripts secret. As I’ve written elsewhere the existing transcripts released contained very that wasn’t already in the TIGTA audit. And, to that point, they undercut some of Issa’s more extreme claims. If the committee is sitting on material that proves a conspiracy, releasing that information would greatly strengthen the legitimacy of the investigation. On the other hand, the longer they hold out on releasing this information, the less attention will be paid to the investigation and the more that this “scandal” will fade into nothingness (which, generally speaking, has been the pattern with most of Issa’s investigations).

Update – 6.18.2013, 7.31am est
While Representative Cummings has taken no further action, Daryl Issa did give the press access to further transcript excerpts. The committed did not directly release any of these transcripts to the public. Read more at the Huffington Post and USAToday.

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About Matt Bernius
Matthew is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology at Cornell University, researching the intersection of technology and culture. Prior to Cornell, he earned a Masters in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and was a visiting professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Matt started his career at Eastman Kodak, spending eight years in a variety of web development, community and content strategy roles. In his spare time (off OTB) Matt slogs (slow-blogs) on the future of reading/media, studies martial arts and self defense, and volunteers, along with his wife, at the Rochester Animal Shelter. Follow him on twitter @mattbernius.

Comments

  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I have a hard time seeing what the committee gains from keeping the transcripts secret.

    I would think that the answer to this one would be obvious – it gives House Republicans, and specifically Issa, the ability to continue to control the narrative. Likewise with the policy of holding selected interviews (the ones where they can’t be certain that the conversation will break in their favor) behind closed doors.

    Issa is enabled in his pursuit of conviction by innuendo as long as the content of the transcripts remains hidden. By releasing only selected portions of the information, which has been spun to the benefit of their desired storyline, they keep alive the impression of scandal that would otherwise deteriorate into yet another comparatively boring example of governmental agency misconduct.

    I’ve said over and over that, if committee Republicans are unable to connect this to the White House in a substantive way, they’ll lose interest quicker than a post-coital teenage boy. Because the intent has never been oversight. It has, from the outset, been the search for political advantage.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  2. Matt Bernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Yup, that’s my view as well. Which is why — based on a close read of all the public evidence so far — I expect as with every other Issa investigation this will end with a whimper rather than a bang.

    And again, an opportunity to overhaul aspects of the tax-code will be lost because all Issa is interested in a scalp hunt. Too bad his performance isn’t being judged on his actual success rate.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Too bad his performance isn’t being judged on his actual success rate.

    How his performance is judged depends not on where one stands on the issues, but on where one sits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Correction, for clarification.

    How his performance is judged depends not on where one stands on the issues, but on which side of the aisle one sits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  5. stonetools says:

    I think Cummings will do it.The fall in Obama’s approval ratings over these “scandals” shows that the Republican political strategy of harping on these issues is working. The politically astute understand that Issa hasn’t proven anything with these hearings, but the public seems to think that there is fire under all all that smoke. One way to defang the IRS scandal is to show that there is no basis for Issa’s extreme innuendos by releasing the transcripts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @stonetools:

    I believe that he will as well, and frankly I hope that he does. He’s sitting in one of the safest seats in Congress (the Maryland 7th, D+23), and therefore has no downside to endure from the release.

    Deep down though, as a nominal Republican – I’m of the Eisenhower Republican variety that the party abandoned long ago – I wish it were a Republican releasing it.

    The sort of politically driven antics that Issa engages in – and has engaged in for close to a decade now – are a glaring example of what is dysfunctional in Congress and with our party in particular. With respect to Republican antics in this regard, it needs to be a Republican saying it (with apologies to Sorkin) until the plant from Little Shop of Horrors goes back to its planet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. Caj says:

    Elijah Cummings better do it. If he has the transcripts put them out there. Darrell Issa will be shown to be the liar he is. All these so called scandals & investigations are coming from a party that is desperate to look relevant. Facts have never bothered them before so why should they stop now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: I don’t know if he will, but I hope so. Dems can’t keep assuming this will go away once it’s revealed that there’s no substance. It won’t. The GOPS willl keep finding new ways to pretend the normal workings of government are massive scandals and move from one to the next; never actually finding anything, but keeping up the drumbeat. It’s time to counterattack and use this to show what out of touch, obstructionist asshats Issa and his Party are.
    @Matt Bernius: Issa’s “opportunity to overhaul aspects of the tax-code”. Riiiiight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. stonetools says:

    I don’t know if he will, but I hope so. Dems can’t keep assuming this will go away once it’s revealed that there’s no substance. It won’t.

    This is the mistaken Obama Administration media strategy in a nutshell. The public isn’t driven by evidence that the Administration did something wrong , but by the perception that the Administration did something wrong. That perception is fed by endless conspiracy theory talk on Fox News and the talk show circuit. We liberals tend to laugh at that stuff, but people BELIEVE it, especially if there is no push-back from the Administration or the Democrats. The turtle media strategy might seem more dignified or whatever, but it doesn’t work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Dazedandconfused says:

    Issa spent his allotted time to question the FBI Director attempting to weasel a comment about the keeping of witness’s statements super secret being necessary last week. It was transparent, and has a reek of desperation. The Director gave him nothing. Reminded me of Tessio asking for that last favor from Tom Hayden.

    He may have been very reckless in his characterizations. Might have felt he had the power to keep them confidential forever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. rudderpedals says:

    Cummings would save us a whole bunch of time by releasing the damn thing already. The only question is why the wait?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. Dazedandconfused says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Courtesy. He’ll be breaking protocol, so he wrote Issa a letter explaining his intentions and gave him a week to respond. It’s the proper thing to do.

    It’s an impressive letter. http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/images/stories/2013-06-13.EEC%20to%20Issa.pdf

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. rudderpedals says:

    @Dazedandconfused: Indeed a very good letter. There was never any question that Cummings is the gentleman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Jenos Idanian says:

    Alternately, Issa could be taking a page from the James O’Keefe playbook — keeping back the really good stuff so a bunch of people really, really overplay their hand, then dropping the bomb on them with the full transcripts.

    Kind of like Obama and his birth certificate, in a way. Obama sat on that for a long, long time to keep the idiots babbling over it, knowing full well that he was winning more sympathy than losing support the longer it went on.

    Or, not. Just a theory. In this scenario, Cummings is trying to spoil Issa’s play by getting it all out in the open.

    Either way, it’s entertaining to watch everyone jumping to conclusions…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Alternately, Issa could be taking a page from the James O’Keefe playbook — keeping back the really good stuff so a bunch of people really, really overplay their hand, then dropping the bomb on them with the full transcripts.

    Can you give an example of O’Keefe doing that? Because, none is really coming to mind at the moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Matt Bernius: I was thinking of the ACORN and the Planned Parenthood videos, where O’Keefe et al would not say how many videos they had — they let one out, let the guilty ones say how it was one aberration and would never happen elsewhere, then drop a second video that was just as bad. It was the “death of a thousand cuts” approach, and it worked brutally. And, as I recall, they didn’t ever say that they’d released all the videos they have.

    I’m thinking more of a “in the spirit of” than a true parallel — Issa knows he’s got gold in those transcripts, so he’s giving the guilty and their apologists plenty of rope to hang themselves before he drops the bomb.

    Again, just a theory, but a fun one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Issa knows he’s got gold in those transcripts, so he’s giving the guilty and their apologists plenty of rope to hang themselves before he drops the bomb.

    You willing to put some money down on this one. Because the stuff he led with was pure nothing-burger.

    In fact, can you list any examples of Issa ever landing an “evidence based” punch versus just throwing out rhetorical statements like “Carney’s a paid liar”? Again, for all the bluster, has the committee ever scored an actual scalp?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Matt Bernius: You willing to put some money down on this one.

    Hell, no. Just a fun little theory.

    And Carney is a paid liar. A well-paid one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  19. Jeremy R says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Kind of like Obama and his birth certificate, in a way. Obama sat on that for a long, long time to keep the idiots babbling over it, knowing full well that he was winning more sympathy than losing support the longer it went on.

    He didn’t sit on it at all.

    To combat the rumors, he released his birth certificate to the entire world, the first time any candidate ever had, by putting it up on the internet and allowing it to be inspected by fact checkers, during the primaries. That sort of tamped down some of the madness until Trump started campaigning on the “long-form” idiocy, and the media actually covered it as a controversy. That caused the birtherism polling numbers to slowly get out of hand, even among independents. There was no clever strategy, just the humiliation of the first black President of the United States being cornered into holding a press conference where he had to prove his Americaness to the satisfaction of a bigot. Not to mention needing to get special dispensation for a kind of certificate Hawaii didn’t even issue anymore, and flying his lawyer out to maintain the chain of custody…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Jeremy uR: Yeah, but is this a great country or what? A rich guy can become rich enough to pretend to be a billionaire even if he’s too dumb to figure out Obama could drop a long form BC anytime he wanted to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. superdestroyer says:

    Since no one has posted a linked to where Rep. Cummings has posted the full transcript, I take it that the answer to the question in the headline is no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  22. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    I hope that Cummings does release the full transcripts and the sooner the better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Hey, who do this Issa guy think he is ??? Eric Holder ???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    I do have a problem with Issa releasing transcripts to news services only. I would like to see the transcript myself, rather than have a media outlet interpret for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Surreal American says:
  26. […] When last we left the stand off between the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Republican Daryl Issa, and the committee’s senior Democratic Member, Elijah Cummings over the release of IRS Interview Transcripts, Issa had largely ignored Cummings request to begin to publicly release the full transcripts of recent interviews with IRS employees. […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0