Darrell Issa Wins Yet Another Chutzpah Award

| Wed Jun. 19, 2013 11:19 AM EDT

Rep. Darrell Issa says he is "deeply disappointed" that Rep. Elijah Cummings went ahead and released the full transcript of a House Oversight Committee interview with an IRS screening manager that Issa wanted to keep under wraps. Then this:

His own previous release of excerpts from this very same transcript undermines his claims that the Committee is somehow trying to keep some specific revelation from public view.

I'm not even sure what to call this. Chutzpah? Something else? Basically, Issa released a few highly misleading excerpts from the interview and repeatedly refused to release the whole thing. So Cummings released some excerpts on his own, and somehow this is supposed to be evidence that Issa wasn't trying to hide anything? Say what? I'll bet Nixon was sorry he didn't think of that defense.

While we're on the subject, though, I pulled a muscle last night reading the full transcript of this interview. (Seriously. It still hurts.) And for what it's worth, it really doesn't prove that there was no White House involvement in targeting tea party groups. The interviewee was a low-level manager of a screening group that does initial sorting into "buckets" of 75,000 applications per year. He made it clear that applications get only a cursory review in his group; that tea party applications were grouped together mostly for the sake of consistency; and that after three days his folks never see these applications again. He did state that he had no reason to think the White House was involved in the higher-level review of tea-party applications, but it was clear that he really had no way of knowing. It was way above his pay grade.

None of this is to say the White House was involved. There's never been any evidence of that, and based on what we know it's vanishingly unlikely. Republicans are just blowing smoke on this. Nonetheless, this particular transcript doesn't really tell us anything aside from the fact that a low-ranking manager was unaware of any political influence. But he probably wouldn't be even if there was.