Networks: IRS Hearing Just 'Another Round of Bitter Partisanship'; Dems Call It A 'Farce'

After ten days of ignoring the June13 revelation that the IRS mysteriously lost two years worth of Lois Lerner's emails related to the scandal plaguing the agency, Tuesday's network morning shows finally took notice of the development only to tout Democrats dismissing the latest congressional hearing on the government abuse as a "farce." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]   

NBC's Today and CBS This Morning both provided full reports on the "contentious" hearing in which "Republicans unleashed their full fury" on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. On Today, correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "The hearings showcased another round of bitter partisanship, with little resolution in sight." A soundbite followed of Massachusetts Democratic Congressman John Tierney declaring: "I don't think I've seen a display of this kind of disrespect in all the time I've been here in Congress."

A clip played of Republican committee chairman Darrell Issa admonishing Tierney: "I would caution all members not to characterize the intent or the character of your fellow members here on the dais." Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly quipped: "I was going to say, but it's fair to question the integrity of the witness?"

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes asserted: "Previous investigations found no evidence of political motivation, just bad judgment. And Democrats called the hearing a farce."

A soundbite ran of Connolly ranting: "The fact that you [Koskinen] would be subjected tonight to the barrage of innuendo and accusation backed up by nothing for the purpose of political theater is, to me, reckless and disgraceful and brings enormous dishonor on this committee."

ABC's Good Morning America only offered a mere 24-second news brief on the topic, with anchor Amy Robach reporting:

A White House lawyer who once worked for IRS is being forced to testify to Congress today after a combative late-night hearing over whether the agency targeted conservative groups. The congressman leading the investigation accused the IRS commissioner of lying about lost emails tied to that scandal. But the commissioner insisted there is no evidence of a crime, saying the emails were lost when a computer crashed.

Meanwhile, GMA devoted full segments to the number of calories in smoothies and the premiere of a new children's television show Girl Meets World.


Here is a full transcript of the June 24 Today report:

7:02 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let's get right to our top story this morning. It's that contentious exchange on Capitol Hill. The House Oversight Committee was up late last night grilling IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about missing emails reportedly connected to Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal. NBC's national correspondent Peter Alexander is on Capitol Hill. Peter, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Heated Exchanges On the Hill; IRS Head Grilled Over Missing Emails]

PETER ALEXANDER: Matt, good morning to you. This was surely the most heated, the most contentious hearing on this IRS issue yet. And now we have learned that the Treasury Department's Inspector General's office has launched its own investigation into those thousands of lost emails.

Today a former IRS official now working for the White House has been called, subpoenaed to testify before Congress. And she will be here after another angry back and forth last night.

REP. DARRELL ISSA [R-CA, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN]: I asked a question.

JOHN KOSKINEN [IRS COMMISSIONER]: And I answered it.

ALEXANDER: On Capitol Hill, a late night of personal attacks and accusations over lost IRS emails.

ISSA: We have a problem with you and you have a problem with maintaining your credibility.

ALEXANDER: Under fire, the recently hired head of the IRS.

KOSKINEN: We are going to provide you 24,000 emails from the-
 
ISSA: My time is expired and I've lost my patience with you.

ALEXANDER: Congressional Republicans are furious that the IRS failed to tell them until last week about computer hard drives that crashed in 2011 and are now gone for good. Those hard drives contained two years worth of emails that belonged to former IRS executive Lois Lerner, who's refused to cooperate with investigations into the IRS's improper handling of conservative groups.

REP. MIKE TURNER [R-OH]: You have no evidence of a crime having been committed in the destruction of these emails, right?

KOSKINEN: We have no evidence whether she beat her dog, whether she beat children. I have no evidence of a whole series of things. All the emails we have will be provided. I did not say I would provide you emails that disappeared. If you have a magical way for me to do that, I'd be happy to know about it.

ALEXANDER: The hearings showcased another round of bitter partisanship, with little resolution in sight.

REP. JOHN TIERNEY [D-MA]: I don't think I've seen a display of this kind of disrespect in all the time I've been here in Congress.

REP. DARRELL ISSA: Please stop the clock. The time is suspended. I would caution all members not to characterize the intent or the character of your fellow members here on the dais.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY [D-VA]: I was going to say, but it's fair to question the integrity of the witness?

ALEXANDER: And the IRS head claims that the agency has turned over thousands of documents and emails, they're trying to do their best they insist. And they also insist there has been no cover-up. But Republicans remain suspicious. And, Matt, when pressed, that IRS  commissioner couldn't recall exactly when the emails disappeared or even who told him.

LAUER: Alright, Peter Alexander on Capitol Hill. Peter, thanks.

Here is a full transcript of the June 24 report on This Morning:

7:07 AM ET

CHARLIE ROSE: A White House official testifies on Capitol Hill this morning. It's part of an investigation into IRS targeting of tea party groups. Last night, the IRS commissioner answered tough questions about lost e-mails. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill where there are claims of obstruction. Nancy, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINES: The New York Times - “Examining a Scandal Within a Scandal About Emails at the I.R.S.,” Bloomberg Businessweek - “IRS Computer Failure Reignites Partisan U.S. House Fight,” The Miami Herald - “IRS Head Says No Obstruction of Congress in Probe,” USA Today - “IRS Official Says House Will Get All Emails”]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, well, Republicans are steamed that the hard drive of the woman at the center of their investigation, Lois Lerner, apparently crashed three years ago and they're only finding out about it now, several months after both the White House and the Treasury Department were informed.

IRS COMMISSIONER JOHN KOSKINEN: Our program was to complete the production of all Lois Lerner e-mails. Complete the review of all custodians that --

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio): But it's kind of important, Mr. Commissioner, to tell us when you lost e-mails for the person that we're focused on.

CORDES: Republicans unleashed their full fury on the Commissioner of the IRS, John Koskinen, who first learned of Lois Lerner’s missing emails in April, but only notified Congress about them ten days ago, on the last page of a seven page letter.

[ON-SCREEN GRAPHIC: Treasury IRS Logo with Letter Excerpt: “...the IRS has determined that Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed in mid-2011.”

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-California): When you discovered that all e-mails would not be provided, you did not come back and inform us, is that correct?

KOSKINEN: All the e-mails we have will be provided. I did not say I would provide you e-mails that disappeared. If you have a magical way for me to do that, I'd be happy to know about it.

CORDES: Koskinen said emails from 2011 show Lerner and IT staff tried in vain to resuscitate her hard drive.

KOSKINEN: I’ve seen no evidence that anyone consciously --

REP. TREY GOWDY (R-South Carolina): Well how would you know what elements of the crime existed? You don’t even know what statutes are at play.

CORDES: Lerner ran the division at the IRS that screens applications for tax exempt status. In 2010 and 2011, the division improperly singled out conservative groups and a few progressive ones for extra scrutiny. Republicans think Lerner, who left last year, may have been egged on by someone in the administration.

KOSKINEN: The people involved in the chain of command in his issue are all gone.

REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R-Michigan): Except the ones at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue.

CORDES: Previous investigations found no evidence of political motivation, just bad judgment. And Democrats called the hearing a farce.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-Virginia): The fact that you would be subjected tonight to the barrage of innuendo and accusation backed up by nothing for the purpose of political theater is, to me, reckless and disgraceful and brings enormous dishonor on this Committee.

CORDES: The IRS has managed to pull together about 24,000 e-mails to and from Lois Lerner from that time period by sifting through other employees e-mails and Koskinen argued it's not that unusual that her hard drive crashed. He said, Norah, that the IRS equipment is so outdated there have been 2,000 hard drive crashes just in the first six months of this year.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Wow, Nancy. Thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC