Rep. Trey Gowdy blasted the Justice Department for stating last month that there was "no evidence" of criminal intent in the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups.

"Never do you have direct evidence of intent," Gowdy, a former prosecutor, said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.

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The South Carolina Republican cited numerous examples of "circumstantial evidence," all of which resulted in discrimination against Tea Party nonprofits, regardless of the tax agency's intent.

Gowdy noted Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS tax-exempt unit, had sent several emails that indicated she harbored a bias against conservatives.

"She worried mightily that a Republican control of the Senate might be tantamount to a Republican president, and she wasn't thrilled about that," he said of Lerner. "She referred to the Tea Party as 'very dangerous.'"

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