Reality Check: Why the government isn’t releasing complete IRS interview transcripts

Published: Aug. 20, 2013 at 8:37 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 at 1:11 AM EDT
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House Oversight Committee Chairman Darryl Issa
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darryl Issa

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It's been more than three months since the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform launched an investigation into the IRS regarding scrutiny of Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

It appears we're no closer to learning the truth about the scope of the alleged conspiracy, and whether it extends beyond Cincinnati - in part because the committee still refuses to publicly release complete transcripts of interviews conducted with local and Washington IRS workers.

FOX19 continues to ask for these documents, even traveling to D.C. to get them. In one instance we were completely ignored, a decision which has divided committee members.

Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings said, "There's nothing in those transcripts that concerned me in any way... I want them released."

In an open letter to representative Cummings, Committee Chairman Darryl Issa defends the decision not to release the documents in question:

"Your push to release entire transcripts from witness interviews while the investigation remains active was reckless and threatened to undermine the integrity of the investigation."

A Democrat and a Republican at odds sounds like politics as usual, right? Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, agrees with Cummings.

"I don't know what their reasons are, but I think all of us should be able to get access to those transcripts," said Portman.

If a member of his own party can't convince Issa to release the information, perhaps this recent clash with the head of the IRS might change the chairman's mind.

"All such information, whether redacted or un-redacted, has been delivered to this congress," argued IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel.

"You've delivered less than one percent of excuse me for standing but I kind of have to get over your stack. You've delivered less than one percent of the documents to the ways and means committee."

So what does this mean for you? It means you're waiting, just as we are, for every last document in the investigation to be released. Until that happens we may never know the truth.

And that's Reality Check.

Letter from Issa:

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