Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan On The IRS Scandal And Delaying Obamacare
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HH: We move up to Ohio’s 4th Congressional district, from Trey Gowdy, to Jim Jordan. Congressman Jordan is the chairman of the Oversight subcommittee of the Oversight and Governmental Affairs committee of the House, chaired by Darrell Issa. Chairman Jordan, welcome back, good to talk to you.
JJ: Good to be with you this evening, or this afternoon, I guess I should say.
HH: It is in California time. Let me ask you, Jim Jordan, the number one question. Do you think it’s possible the President was briefed by Mr. Wilkins about the targeting of the IRS groups?
JJ: It’s certainly possible. We don’t have that evidence, yet, but what we do know is this thing is climbing up the chain of command, and we know that once Carter Hull, 48 years at the IRS, the expert on tax exempt organizations, once he made a recommendation on the now-famous two test cases, once he made a recommendation, and once he met with the Chief Counsel’s office at the IRS, he was taken off the case, as he was thrown off the case, even though he was the guy who trained everyone else on how to deal with the cases. He was thrown off, and they were turned over to an individual who had been at the IRS for just four months. So we do know that fact. It came out loud and clear in last week’s hearing, and we’ll see. So we’re going to depose Mr. Wilkins at some point, and then he’ll be in front of the committee to answer questions in front of members of Congress and the whole country.
HH: I did my time in the federal government, my six years, and I was in the White House Counsel’s office for a year. I frankly never heard of the Chief Counsel of the IRS coming to the White House.
HH: I don’t know if it’s the same guy, but I just, I cannot imagine why the Chief Counsel of the IRS would meet with the President, can you?
JJ: Yup. Well, I mean, who knows why he was there? But what we do know is lots of folks from the IRS were making lots of visits to the White House. And obviously, Doug Shulman’s the most famous, 157 times. Sarah Hall Ingram, the lady who was also part of the exempt organizations division of the IRS who now heads up the implementation of Obamacare at the IRS, made lots of visits to the White House. So we know these folks who are involved in this targeting of conservative groups made lots of visits. What we don’t know, yet, is you know, what was talked about, and was there direct influence from the White House. But we’re committed to getting to the truth, because this is, as you know, Hugh, as fundamental as it gets – your government using information as a weapon to target you for your political beliefs. It doesn’t get any more wrong than that.
HH: There have been reports that Christine O’Donnell, former Senate candidate from Delaware, had her information inappropriately leaked by the IRS.
HH: Are you familiar with those reports?
JJ: Yeah, yeah, but what we also do know is the Inspector General referred a case to the Justice Department, to Mr. Holder, and said he believes there was, in one situation, now this is not Christine O’Donnell. This is someone we don’t know who the person is, because they won’t divulge that information. But there was willful intent by someone at the IRS to give personal taxpayer information out in a way that they should not have done. And the Inspector General recommended prosecution, and we know that Eric Holder has declined to prosecute. So once again, we’ve got this Justice Department not doing what we think obviously needed being done, and what the Inspector General recommended to be done, which is prosecute and go after this individual.
HH: Now I want to go into the tall weeds a little bit here. When you have lawyers in the federal government, they’re Schedule C appointees. They are much more easily hired and fired, much more easy to smuggle in a political appointee.
HH: Do we know how many people Mr. Wilkins brought to the Counsel’s office with him that had Obama campaign ties?
JJ: Yeah, I do not know that. That’s something we can maybe get at when we start to…the three lawyers who were in the meeting I referred to, where they met with Mr. Hull, and it was determined he now move off these cases, even though he was the expert, and there wouldn’t be no resolution to these cases, even though he had recommended that they approve one and deny one. They said no, we’re just going to keep him in limbo, which was frankly, that was truly the targeting. They never gave an answer to these folks. And they still haven’t given answers to these groups. Dozens and dozens are still waiting. So that was, what we do know is the three lawyers that were in that meeting, we’ve interviewed, we’re going to interview those three individuals and find out. I couldn’t tell you how many have ties to the campaign. We don’t know that.
HH: And so those interviews, those depositions have not yet occurred?
HH: But that will be very interesting, obviously, to find out why they were acting, because to take something out of the hands of a seasoned bureaucrat that is something as routine as this, I mean, your antenna must be quivering, Jim Jordan.
HH: Something is wrong here.
JJ: Well, but there were two factors. The forty, and I mean, first, this is just a fact, this guy worked at the IRS for 48 years. I mean, it’s amazing. But 48 years, he worked there. He’s the expert who does the training sessions on this. He actually made a recommendation, and this guy was calling, Carter Hull was calling the balls and strikes, because he said one Tea Party group he recommended be approved for tax exempt status, one Tea Party group he recommended not be approved. He denied. So it wasn’t like he was, so he made a recommendation. So there was going to be some closure and some process and some decision making actually going on. So once he makes the recommendation, and once he meets in the Chief Counsel’s office, that’s when the timeline is such that that’s when he’s taken off the cases. To me, that’s significant. He’s not kicked off until after he decides and makes a recommendation, until after he meets in the Chief Counsel’s office.
HH: That is, of course, significant.
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HH: Chairman Jordan, one of the pushbacks that we’re getting is that oh, look, the IRS was also subjecting liberal groups to close scrutiny. What do you make of that argument? Is there, in fact, a defense there?
JJ: There’s no evidence. I mean, it’s baloney. I mean, there have been a couple of progressive groups in the press who’ve said we experienced some delay, but they were approved. There have been dozens and dozens and dozens of conservative groups who experienced delays of one, two, three years, have yet to be approved. So this idea that somehow the Inspector General did not look at the right thing, he looked at exactly what he had to, and it’s just the typical play from the Democrats who say oh…but think about this, Hugh. If that really happened, then why trumpet out the false story?
JJ: Why did Jay Carney further the narrative that said oh, it was line agents, and two rogue agents in Cincinnati? Why did Lois Lerner have the planted question? If it was just like oh, we’re just incompetent, we weren’t really doing political targeting, we’re just incompetent, well, then no need to trumpet out this false story. But this is, and this is important. This is the M.O. of this administration. When we had the terrible, terrible things in Benghazi, it was the video that caused it. Well, we had the terrible things at the IRS. Oh, it was just two line agents in Cincinnati. There’s always this false narrative that they present and try to steer the American people in a false direction, and it’s just flat-out wrong. And this idea that progressive groups are targeted, there’s no evidence of that. Of all we’ve seen, there’s no evidence to show that.
HH: Now this morning on Morning Joe, I played this for Trey Gowdy, Slippery Jay Carney, and that’s what I’m calling him now, because he is slippery, Slippery Jay went on Morning Joe, and Slippery Jay says hey, look, the media’s moved on, they floated this, they cherry-picked it, and the media’s moved on, and Joe stopped him, and Joe’s not exactly, you know…
HH: MSNBC is not the home of hard-hitting anti-Obama administration journalism. And he said wait a minute, don’t pull that stuff with me. Has the media moved on, Jim Jordan? Have they decided to accept the Obama head fake and say there’s nothing to see here, move along?
JJ: I don’t think so, and more, I think most importantly, we haven’t decided to move on, because as I said earlier, this is as basic and fundamental as it gets. Let me just give you one more piece of information I think is critical. A few weeks ago, I had a chance to question Mr. Mueller before he left the FBI. I asked him three simple questions. Can you tell me who the lead agent is on the criminal investigation into the IRS scandal, because you know, Attorney General Holder has launched a criminal investigation. I said Mr. Mueller, can you tell me who the lead agent is? Can you tell me how many agents you’ve assigned? And can you tell me have you talked to any of the victims groups? Couldn’t answer any question. So again, the White House said oh, this is important, when this happens, this is important, we’re going to get to the bottom of it. The director of the FBI couldn’t tell me. You would think you’d put your best lawyer, your best investigative team. And one of the first things you do in a criminal investigation, is you go talk to the people who were harmed.
JJ: You talk to some of these groups who have been waiting for three and a half years for a decision from their government. And yet, that couldn’t happen. But what we do know, Hugh, is one, two, three years ago, when some of these groups were applying for tax exempt status, they got a visit from the FBI then.
JJ: I mean, what’s the FBI have to do with, I mean, is it just coincidence? But you’re applying for tax exempt status is a question between you and the IRS. It’s a tax question. And the FBI shows up and pays some of these people visits.
HH: Well, there’s much to investigate, and I hope you continue to do so. Now I need to switch over to immigration and ask you to put on your hat as chairman emeritus of the Republican Study Group, because I had on last week Chairman Mike McCaul of Homeland Security, good conservative, fine guy, but HR 1417, which passed out of that committee, is a terrible bill. It’s a terrible bill, because it’s silent on the fence, it does not pay off the IOU on the 700 miles. In fact, Chaiman McCaul said 600 plus of those miles had already been built. We both know that’s a joke. That’s not true. Congressman Jordan, will the Republican conference stand for any bill that is not specific on the border fence – miles, specs, double-layering, access road, all that stuff?
JJ: Yeah, let me say two things. We’re certainly not going to go for anything that doesn’t have true border security, and I do agree with you that the fence works, and we should be looking to do what the law says and build the fence where it’s supposed to be built. One of the first trips I ever took in Congress back in the spring of 2007 was to the fence in the Tucson sector. And the fence works. We talked to agents. I saw the fence. It actually works. So I get that fact. But in a broader sense, we are not going to go for any bill that doesn’t have border security first, and make sure that happens before anything else gets even addressed.
HH: What I was talking about with Trey Gowdy is, though, border security has come to be a polluted term. It’s a polluted term because the Senate used it, and by border security, they meant everything but a fence.
HH: And therefore, a bill without specifics about miles and height and all that different stuff, you know, Clean Water Act trumping authority…
HH: It’s just going to be suspect, and I’m trying to sound the alarm to the House GOP that this will not fly.
JJ: Yeah, good for you. And the other thing to keep in mind is anything that where the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano’s group, and whoever is going to be the new secretary there, anything that they sign off on is completely suspect. That group has no credibility. So I share your concern.
HH: Okay, in light of that, what do you expect to hear in August? Your colleague, Tom Cotton, was on the show on Monday, and he wrote the piece in the Wall Street Journal, and he said everyone ought to go to the town halls, everyone ought to talk fence with their congressman, and everyone ought to send emails. Does it matter in Ohio? I’m curious, you know, 4th district, Central Ohio going up to the lake, does it matter? Does immigration matter to the middle of Buckeye land?
JJ: You know what I really hear when I’m out is the IRS and Obamacare. And this is the one part of our previous conversation we didn’t get into, but that is a huge link. Now think about this. The very agency that was targeting groups who came into existence because they oppose Obamacare is going to be enforcing Obamacare. And they started the targeting of groups who oppose Obamacare the very months, March, 2010, the very month that Obamacare became law.
JJ: And they’re going to be the enforcement agency? So that’s what I hear about, how bad Obamacare is, it’s not ready for prime time. It should be delayed, it should be repealed, and the IRS is involved with it now. That’s what I really hear about.
HH: And is the Oversight Committee plunging into these press releases we’re getting from New York and California saying premiums are falling, because that’s just nonsense.
JJ: Yeah, it is. It’s total nonsense. We had a hearing as well, Hugh, to me, this is almost as chilling as the IRS itself. These data hubs where they’re going to, in the era of Snowden, where this information is going to CMS and it’s coming from Department of Homeland Security, it’s coming from the IRS, it’s coming from the Social Security Administration, all this information in these data hubs? The potential for people to get ahold of your personal health information, as well as a lot of other information, is just scary. So that’s another element that I think frightens a lot of Americans when they think about Obamacare legislation actually moving forward.
HH: Chairman Jim Jordan of the House subcommittee on Oversight, thank you so much for joining us. Have a great time back in Ohio during the August break, Congressman.
End of interview.