When former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman was pressed by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Tuesday, Shulman refused to apologize for the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.
Instead of apologizing, Shulman expressed regret and stated that the Inspector General report absolved him of any culpability for the agency’s conduct.
The IRS scandal has resulted in a surprising number of absurd situations similar to the interaction between Cornyn and Shulman.
On Sunday, an Obama aide attempted to defend the Obama administration in the face of multiple scandals, stating that the “law is irrelevant” when discussing the IRS scandal in particular.
Another particularly interesting claim made during a congressional hearing was that the United States tax system is in fact a voluntary one.
Cornyn pointed out that Steven Miller, former IRS acting commissioner, opened his testimony before the Senate with a clear apology but when he asked if Shulman would apologize for the IRS’ actions, Shulman avoided the question.
“Mr. Shulman, I wonder if you have any words of apology for my constituents and others who feel like the public trust has been violated by the IRS,” Cornyn said.
“You know, I’m deeply, deeply saddened by this whole set of events,” Shulman said. “I’ve read the [Inspector General’s] report and I very much regret that it happened and that it happened on my watch.”
“Is that an apology?” Cornyn asked.
“To your constituents? I don’t know the details of your constituents. I don’t know what happened to them, I didn’t look at particular constituent and taxpayer matters,” Shulman said.
Shulman went on to contend that as a general principle, as IRS commissioner between 2008 and 2012, he did not personally examine individual cases. He also said that he had nothing to do with cases that involved political activity.
“So if I knew the details of it, I could give you an answer,” Shulman said.
“So it’s not your responsibility,” Cornyn said. “The buck doesn’t stop with you.”
“I certainly am not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it,” Shulman said. “What I know with the full facts that are out is – from the Inspector General’s report – which doesn’t say that I’m responsible for that.”
After a long pause, Cornyn said, “Well I don’t think that qualifies as an apology.”
“It qualifies as an expression of regret,” Cornyn said, “which I think is well deserved.”
Shulman similarly would not admit that he was personally responsible when questioned by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).
Cornyn went on to ask Shulman if he is also concerned that “the IRS has deviated from its core function and should be reformed to focus on that core function and perhaps not be given these other additional responsibilities until it can get its house in order.”
Shulman said that the IRS is charged with administering the United States’ tax laws and those tax laws have been used for more and more things.
“I defer to Congress to decide what it wants to use the tax code for and whether it wants the IRS to do all of the functions in the tax code,” Shulman said. “As long as the IRS is given that responsibility I think the obligation of the agency is to do it to the best of its ability.”
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The clip can be seen below via C-SPAN:
The first part of the full hearing can be seen here.
This article first appeared at End the Lie.
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