Ted Cruz, Eric Holder mix it up at hearing
By: Mackenzie Weinger
January 29, 2014 02:32 PM EST
Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday pushed Attorney General Eric Holder for answers about the investigation into the IRS, with the Texas Republican saying he finds what has transpired in the last eight months of the probe “astonishing.”
Cruz called on Holder, who was appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to address why so little had been done since the inspector general report concluded that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups, tea party groups, pro-Israel groups and pro-life groups.
“In the 280 days since that inspector general report, nobody has been indicted,” Cruz said. “Not a single person. In the 280 days since that inspector general report, it’s been publicly reported that no indictments are planned. Today in this hearing, you were unwilling to answer a question whether even a single victim of targeting has been interviewed.”
And, Cruz said, “most astonishingly, it has now been publicly reported that the lead lawyer heading the investigation was, No. 1, appointed from the civil rights division, which has historically been the most politically charged division in the Dept. of Justice. And even more astonishingly, is a major Democratic donor and donor to President Obama.”
“Did you know the lawyer in charge of this investigation was a major Obama donor?” Cruz asked, referring to the involvement of Justice Department’s trial lawyer Barbara Kay Bosserman in the probe.
“The characterization of this lawyer as the lead lawyer on the case is not correct,” Holder said, adding that “I don’t know anything about the political activities of any of the people who are involved in this investigation.”
Holder told the committee that he does not “have any basis to believe that the people who are engaged in this investigation are doing so in a way other than investigations are normally done.”
“That is by looking at the facts, applying the law to those facts and reaching the appropriate conclusions,” he said. “I don’t have any basis to believe that anything other than that is occurring.”
Cruz pushed back, telling the attorney general that the apparent lack of movement on the issue since the inspector general report came out suggests the opposite.
“Well, I will say a lot of American citizens have a basis to believe it, given that 280 days have passed, no one’s been indicted,” Cruz said. “280 days have passed and many if not all of the victims have not even been interviewed. 280 have passed and apparently the anger and outrage that both the president and you expressed has utterly disappeared.”
Holder again responded that it would not be appropriate to discuss an ongoing investigation.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever conducted an investigation, senator, and I’ll just take you at your word, 280 days is not unusual for complex investigations,” he said. “We want to make sure what we do is comprehensive and at the end of the day we get it right.”
Cruz then asked Holder if the investigation has “examined the meetings between the head of the IRS and White House political operatives to determine the degree of political influence that was exercised from the White House over this political targeting.”
“I’m not going to discuss an ongoing investigation and what steps have been taken in connection with that investigation,” Holder said. “And that is not something I’m only doing for this inquiry, this would be an answer you would get from me for any investigation the Justice Department was involved in.”
The Texas Republican tried again to find out specific information about the process of the investigation, asking if any work has been done to look into whether individual donors to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had been audited and targeted by the IRS at a greater rate than Obama.
“I have heard from dozens of financial supporters for Gov. Romney that told me they had never been audited in their life, and within a week, a month of it becoming public they were raising money for Mitt Romney, they discovered they were being audited,” Cruz said. “Now, those are anecdotal stories, but it would be relatively simple to examine the prosecution rates of Obama donors vs. Romney donors, and if there were sharp differentials, if it were the case that Romney donors were being audited at a much higher frequency, that would raise substantial basis to investigate further.”
“Has the investigation inquired into that?” he asked.
Holder again declined to delve into the particulars of the IRS investigation.
“I am not going to discuss what we have done in an ongoing investigation,” the attorney general said. “This is a matter that is presently being investigated, interviews are being done, analysis is being conducted. It would be inappropriate for me to talk about the matter in the way that you have asked.”
Cruz wrapped up his time by saying that “in my view, the integrity of the Department of Justice has been severely compromised.” He added that predecessors of Holder have appointed special prosecutors “when faced with serious charges of abuse of power for partisan gain.”
“I would call upon you to carry out the tradition of independence,” he said