Talk about chilling…didn’t they try this same tactic with witnesses on Benghazi?
On Wednesday, House hearings on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) political targeting of conservative groups uncovered a startling revelation about the interview process used to construct the Inspector General’s report: Obama donor-turned-IRS director of tax exempt organizations Holly Paz sat in on 36 of 41 interviews with IRS employees.
“Why was Holly Paz… in almost all of the interviews you conducted?” asked Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). “Why would you have someone from the IRS in those meetings? Is that proper protocol?”
“I am unaware of it,” said Inspector General J. Russell George. “This is the first I’ve heard this.”
George then requested time to research the revelation. “This is the first time that I was made aware of this,” said George.
George then clarified he and his agency performed an audit, not an investigation.
“The operative word, Mr. Chairman, is audit,” said George. “It was not conducted as an investigation.”
Still, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) seemed unsettled that Paz was allowed to sit in on the IG’s interviews of IRS employees.
“Usually when you are conducting an investigation—I know this was an audit, I got that—you want to keep your witnesses separate because you’re in search of the truth and you are trying to make sure there’s no advantage of a person hearing what somebody else said,” said Cummings. “That’s pretty standard procedure.”
George ultimately conceded to Cummings that, “in hindsight, given this matter, obviously this seems somewhat unusual. I need to do a little more research.”
Cummings pressed on, suggesting that Paz’s reason for sitting in on interviews may have been to protect herself or the IRS.