Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., says outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller failed to honor his oath before the House Ways & Means Committee last week and that the congressional investigation into the government targeting and harassing of conservative organizations is just getting started.
Reichert was one of several committee members who grilled Miller Friday and came away frustrated by Miller's chronic memory lapses. In one exchange, Miller could remember who he spoke with about where responsibility lies for this scandal but couldn't remember who that person believed was ultimately responsible for the policy.
"I think that Mr. Miller was not abiding by the oath that he took right before his testimony began. He was asked to stand and hold his right hand in the air and testify to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Mr. Miller, I believe, was not true to that oath," Reichert said. "I don't know if his attorneys were advising him to be vague in his answers and answer 'I don't know' because of some concern there may be some future implications legally for Mr. Miller, but that's my guess."
"It was really a disservice to the American people and shows an arrogance. In fact, when I asked Mr. Miller if he felt any duty on his part to share the information he knew with Congress, he said that he saw absolutely none. He also mentioned that he really didn't feel any compulsion or any responsibility in going to his boss," said Reichert, who noted that the same attitude seems to be rampant in the White House as well.
"I think that the unfolding events of the White House timeline shows, if not deception, at least a great amount of confusion that leads one to suspect that there may be some lack of memory purposefully from some of the persons representing what the White House knew when," he said.
Reichert said we're just seeing the early stages of this investigation since one hasn't been done yet – even by the IRS. He said it's important to note that the IRS inspector general's report was not at all exhaustive.
"The IG has only done an audit, and that audit is still in the process. The actual investigation of who knew what and when is really just beginning," Reichert said. "There are a number of avenues that this investigation will follow and then determining the outcome of who will lose their jobs, who may be charged with a crime, if anyone. That'll all come at the conclusion of these investigations."
In addition to getting to the bottom of the scandal, many members of Congress are urging policy changes such as stripping the IRS of Obamacare enforcement powers or reforming the tax code to minimize the role of the agency. For Reichert, the most important thing is reining in the imperial attitude of the IRS and others in government.
"The biggest issue for me is the arrogance of our IRS leadership, that they can do anything they want to do. The issue really boils down to our civil rights as Americans guaranteed by the Constitution," Reichert said. "The IRS, in my opinion, has trampled all over those rights."