OTR Interviews

House Ways and Means Chair: 'An arrogance from the IRS came across'

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp frustrated by outgoing IRS chief Steven Miller's lack of info for Congress on agency's targeting conservatives


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp leading that explosive hearing on the IRS scandal, the first of many. Chairman Camp joins us.

Good evening, sir.

REP. DAVE CAMP, HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN: Thanks, Greta. Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir. Now, Mr. Miller said today that it was foolish mistakes. Do you agree it was foolish mistakes, or after the hearing today, do you conclude that there was something more sinister?

CAMP: Well, I think there was more than just mistakes. I mean, even the inspector general said this was really a pattern. This was targeting of people who had, you know, conservative political views.

The other thing that was, I think, really problematic is we didn't get enough answers. We didn't get enough information. There was a lot of lack of memory, a lot of really not -- not really being forthcoming. And so there's going be a lot more to do. And as I said at the end of the hearing, this is just the beginning. This investigation is going to be ongoing, and that's a promise I've made to the American people.

VAN SUSTEREN: You talk about lack of memory. You say the answers weren't forthcoming. Was that memories fade, or do you think that the witness was being cagey with you, coy, and trying to hide something?

CAMP: You know, when you got through several hours of that, I think an arrogance at the IRS came across in, you know, bright colors. And that was very disconcerting to all of us. And I think, as you saw the hearing go on, members became even more frustrated with that, this sense that, again, they weren't really telling us why they didn't inform us as representatives of the American people, when we'd been inquiring after this for more than two years, and not only that, gave us assurances that this wasn't going on hearings when we were trying to get questions.

So now, we're not going to stop until we get all the answers that we need to get because, clearly, when we were trying to ask those before, they weren't forthcoming. And we're going to get to the bottom of this.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, prior to today, then, would you say that -- and I guess it'd be sort of in the words of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- that the IRS misled Congress? And would say specifically that Mr. Miller was one of those who misled Congress?

CAMP: You know, absolutely the IRS misled Congress. And this goes to more than just tax-exempt organizations. They released confidential taxpayer information. They had access to donor lists. They performed audits. Those were all confirmed in today's hearing. So we did get that.

But we don't know to the extent that all those things went on. Clearly, the IG audit was just that, an audit. It was just a cursory look at their practices. We need to dig a lot deeper to find out where this goes.

What really was clear, it was one political viewpoint that was targeted. It was one political viewpoint that was brought in for questioning that was so far off the chart, it's hard to believe -- you couldn't have made it up.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think there's any link to the White House? Are you suspicious there is any link to the White House, beyond the IRS to the White House?

CAMP: We don't have any link to the White House at this time. We do know, at least, that the secretary of the treasury was informed, but we -- obviously, that was one of the areas they were very vague about, about who they told and when they told them and what they told them. So we're going to have to take a lot more -- you know, close -- a lot closer look at all of this.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has the IRS offered to your committee any information about any -- sort of any targeted liberal groups or progressive groups, or have they given you any questionnaires that they've sent to the progressive or liberal groups that mirror what they've sent to the Tea Party conservative groups?

CAMP: No, the IRS hasn't given us any of that and none of that has come in. We are getting lots of calls and lots of examples of targeting of conservative groups, of religious organizations. And so this is much broader than just tax-exempt organizations. But we are not hearing that on the other side, not at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Would you have -- would you have expected them to volunteer that? I don't know really sort of the rules of the hearing, but I assume if I were the witness, if I were Mr. Miller and I were on the hot seat, accused of targeting one particular side of the political spectrum, if I had information that I'd done the same thing with the other side of the political spectrum, I would have said, How about this? Do you want this information?

And would you expect that from the witness today, or is that something that you wouldn't expect?

CAMP: No, I think you would expect that. And I got to tell you, I didn't get this sense that he was outraged at the end of all of this, that, you know, this was just sort of not that big a deal to him. And I don't think he really fully even yet understood just how much a problem this was in terms of breaking faith with the American people and really almost going to the level of abuse of certain individuals in terms of the questions asked and the lengths they had to go to simply to exercise their rights under the law.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the fact that there was this sort of staged question to Ms. Lerner before the report came out? What was that all about? Explain what happened, and what was the point of that?

CAMP: Well, we just learned of that in the hearing. And clearly, what they he did was staged the release of this information and completely ignored the Congress or official channels in terms of getting this out. And I think they thought they were going to get this behind them in a 24- hour news cycle.

The problem is we had been asking for this information, and so the fact that that was that plan makes me think that this was not just a few people in one area that knew about this or a few low-level people, and that others weren't involved in orchestrating a planned leak of this. It's a fairly sophisticated PR tactic, and I just question whether the IRS thought of that all by themselves.

Again, that was just confirmed in the hearing. That was something we didn't know before. We do know that now, and we can now look further in that area.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, am I correct that Ms. Lerner, who was head of the tax-exempt division during most of the operative time here -- that she learned about it as soon as at least June of 2011? Did she know about it at least then?

CAMP: We think she knew about it then, and obviously, we want to get to her at some point and have her verify that. But it appears that that's when she found out about it, two years ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, the thing -- the reason why I find that particularly troubling is that we've had guests here on "On the Record" and I've seen information that as -- you know, as recently as January of 2012, six months after she learned, that groups still felt like they were targeted. It would seem to me that -- you know, that that would have been a good time, June of 2011, to step in and stop it.

CAMP: Absolutely, and that doesn't appear to have been done. And obviously, we're going to verify all this.

The other thing -- we just had a hearing last week on this, and they still didn't tell us, even though they had orchestrated this release, that it was coming in just a couple of days. So they've clearly not been forthcoming with Congress. They have an obligation under the law to not conceal material facts from the Congress. And so there's a lot of concern here. I think that's why even the attorney general is concerned and really brought in the FBI to look at potential criminal activity.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's what I don't get, though, Congressman, is that you've been asking for this material from the IRS for some time. There have been lots of letters back and forth between Congress and the IRS. You obviously haven't gotten the information.

Is it -- I mean, like, why doesn't Congress issue some subpoenas and actually put the feet to the fire? I mean, this could have been probably, you know -- it could have been done at a much faster pace so a lot of people didn't suffer. I mean, why don't you step up the oversight and really put feet to the fire on the IRS?

CAMP: Well, we just found out about this a week ago. And in that short time, we wanted to schedule a hearing with the current director just to kind of see where things were. But clearly, this investigation is going to be ramped up. I'm not exactly sure in the directions we're going to go, but we're going to ramp this up because we did not get the information we needed to get in today's hearing, and we're going to have to go to the next level.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, I'll give you some advice. Most prosecutions, they start at the bottom and not the top in terms of questioning. You might want to talk to the people in Cincinnati...

CAMP: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and see what they have to say because they may lead you farther up the chain.

CAMP: I think that's a very good -- a very good point.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

CAMP: Thank you. Thanks, Greta.