Will Elijah Cummings Release IRS Transcripts Later Today? (Updated)
Today is the deadline for Darryl Issa to respond to a request from Elijah Cummings to defend a decision not to release IRS interview transcripts. What happens if Issa doesn't respond?
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.