(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) accused outgoing IRS chief Steven Miller of lying by not mentioning that he knew his agency had been “improperly” targeting Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny when Miller responded to letters from members of Congress looking into the matter.
“Now Mr. Miller, that’s a lie by omission. There’s no question about that in my mind. It’s a lie by omission, and you kept it from people who have the obligation to oversee this matter,” Hatch said.
Hatch and his colleagues wrote to then IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman on March 14, 2012 and June 18, 2012, asking about the IRS’s “selective enforcement” of conservative groups and request for donor information. Shulman served as IRS chief from 2008-2012, during the Bush and Obama administrations.
“The responses that I received from the IRS were anything but transparent. The IRS responded to these two letters on April 26, 2012 and Sept. 11, 2012, and both of these responses were signed by you, Mr. Miller,” Hatch said.
Hatch noted that J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), briefed Miller on May 3, 2012 about the inspector general’s audit, “so we know you were aware of it at the time that you responded to my second letter, if not both letters, but you didn’t mention any of this in your responses to me, to the Senate or to any other congressional body.”
“You just sat on that guilty knowledge,” Hatch said.
“On Friday you swore under oath that you had told the truth in your prior responses. You said that the IRS had been guilty of ‘horrible customer service,’” Hatch told Miller.
What Congress has learned recently “goes far beyond horrible customer service,” Hatch said.
“Why did you mislead me and my colleagues, my fellow senators, and most importantly the American people by failing to tell us what you knew about the exact subject we were asking about? Why didn’t you tell us?” Hatch asked.
“Mr. Hatch, I did not lie,” Miller responded. “I did not lie, sir.”
“You lied by omission. You knew what was going on,” Hatch said. “You should have told us.”
“I answered the questions. I answered them truthfully. Did I know about the list? Yes. Not on the first letter, by the way, because the timing I wouldn’t have known for that. On the second letter, we answered those questions, sir,” Miller said.
“Frankly, the concept of political motivation here, I did not agree with that in May. I do not agree with that now. We were not politically motivated in targeting conservative groups. That’s born out by Mr. George’s report,” Miller added.
“What else can you call it? He just said he hadn’t found that up ‘til now, and today’s statement was a little more definitive than the one he gave to the House,” Hatch said.
“You knew this was going on. You knew we were concerned. You knew we’d written to you. You had our letters. Why didn’t you correct the record? Why didn’t you let us know?” Hatch asked Miller. “We would have solved this problem a long time ago.”
“TIGTA was looking at the cases, sir,” Miller responded.
“Was it TIGTA’s responsibility or was it yours?” Hatch asked.
“I’m sorry?” Miller said.
“The commissioner relied on you to answer our letters. Why didn’t you answer them, and why didn’t you tell us this information that you knew at least on the second?” Hatch asked Miller.
“I believe I did answer them, and I did answer them truthfully, sir,” Millers responded.