Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steven Miller claimed that the IRS’s improper targeting of conservative organizations was “not illegal” during his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday.
The committee had been tasked with investigating the circumstances behind the agency’s improper targeting of the organizations.
“It’s absolutely not illegal,” for the IRS to target specific organizations, Miller responded to a question prompted by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.).
“Do you believe it is illegal for employees of the IRS to create lists, to target individual groups and citizens in this country?” Buchanan then asked.
“I think the Treasury and the Inspector General indicated that it might not be, but others will be able to tell that,” Miller said.
“What do you believe?” Buchanan inquired.
“I don’t believe it is,” Miller replied.
Miller also had some difficulty providing the committee with cohesive answers to their questions, especially those from the committee’s Republican members. Few of the answers that he actually decided to give were indecisive.
When asked about dates of events, people involved or even how he was made aware of the targeting practices, Miller acknowledged that he was unable to give an answer. ”I’d have to check” and “I’ll let you know” became the recurring chorus Miller sang to members of Congress.
The outgoing IRS commissioner wasn’t the only first person involved in the trifecta of scandals that have plagued the Obama administration this week to avoid answering questions this week. Attorney General Eric Holder found ways to dodge several questions thrown his way during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the IRS and Associated Press scandals on Wednesday.
Miller’s inability to give straight answers to the committee, which made him appear ill-prepared for the hearing, also played right into Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R-Ill.) argument that the actions of the IRS were more than simply dishonest.
“On the other hand, you’re arguing today that the IRS is not corrupt,” Roskam said. “But the subtext of that is you say, ‘Look, we’re just incompetent.’ And I think it is a perilous pathway to go down.”
Besides ungracefully dodging the committee’s questions, Miller also decisively shied away from the term “target” despite the fact that, as Roskam pointed out, the IG’s report utilized the word 16 times.
Miller, who was asked to resign earlier this week, will actually retire from his position as IRS commissioner in June.