OTR Interviews

Issa: If the IRS believed targeting conservatives was good, it's not only wrong but dangerous

House Oversight Committee chair previews third Congressional hearing where IRS officials will be grilled for abuse of power


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tomorrow mum's the word. She's taking the fifth. IRS top official Lois Lerner is not going to say boo when she appears before the House oversight committee meeting. They want to investigate the IRS scandal, but she says she is taking the fifth. What does the chairman of that panel think about that? Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa joins us. Nice to see you, sir.

REP. DARRELL ISSA, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIR: Well, Greta, thanks for covering this. And obviously American people want answers.

VAN SUSTEREN: You won't get them tomorrow because we understand she will be taking the Fifth Amendment when she appears before your committee.

ISSA: She's an important witness. We still hold out hope that she will change her mind. Often, as you know, people don't always listen to their attorneys. And in this case she's critical to the conduit between commissioners and other individuals and the actual places where so much was known.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I actually, if I were her lawyer, I'd advise her to take the fifth too, because there is the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation and she does -- I mean, there is a risk she says something tomorrow.

ISSA: We could say there's a risk for everybody. But the American people had confidence in the IRS. The IRS had a responsibility. The two commissioners, I guess they're both immediate past commissioners somewhat now, have said they didn't know it.

VAN SUSTEREN: From what I understand, in summer of 2011, she was aware of it. And she was the head person in this division. And it was still going on in January of 2012. Why wouldn't anybody stop this?

ISSA: Well, that's probably the best question for the American people. Like so many things that are wrongdoing, it can be a local event in the wrongdoing, overzealous IRS individuals, people who just start down a path of one, then 10, then 100 of these, if you will, Tea Party groups. But at some point people saw it, they became aware of it and it continued.

I think one of the important things is it didn't just continue 2011. It continued 2012, it continued through the election. It continues today. As far as we can tell, there are organizations that have been out there for three years and have neither been accepted nor rejected, simply tortured in a way in which they can't even appeal a rejection because they haven't had one.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did this happen?

ISSA: That's a great question that I'm not sure we're going to get any time soon. What we know is that in the IG report and in my conversation with the IG, they don't have internal controls that would prevent this from happening in the future.

VAN SUSTEREN: It wasn't just one person. That's the thing. It's not just one person being a jerk to one taxpayer. I mean, this was a targeted list, a group of people. And it almost seems like, you know, at best this was the culture that it was OK to go after these people for whatever reason, didn't like their ideas or whatever. It's just there's something, it's more than just one person.

ISSA: Greta, we've become a very polarized country. It is certainly possible that people at the IRS viewed that they were doing something good by going after people who filled out forms saying that they believed in smaller government, in constitutional fundamentals. But, of course, if they did that, it's not only wrong but it's dangerous. The IRS has to be one of those organizations that's constantly second-guessing its own decisions, not just the decisions of taxpayers.

VAN SUSTEREN: They certainly didn't do that here.

ISSA: No, they didn't.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you. I guess there will be a short hearing tomorrow?

ISSA: No, we'll go the full length. We will be perhaps one witness shy. But we have plenty of questions. We did a full deposition today under oath. We got a lot of information. The information today will lead to questions tomorrow.

VAN SUSTEREN: Good. We'll be watching. Thank you, sir.

ISSA: Thank you.