New hearings could push IRS scandal closer to White House

A congressional committee’s investigation into the IRS handling of conservative groups is likely to heat up today with a new hearing on Capitol Hill.

And four top House Republicans are saying the scandal could be getting closer to the White House, according to Fox News report.

irstrailLed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has been investigating the IRS, the four wrote in a letter Wednesday that a witness expected to testify today had revealed that IRS officials had been ordered to send applications for tax-exempt status filed by tea-party groups to the IRS chief counsel’s office in Washington for review.

The IRS chief counsel, William Wilkins, was appointed by President Obama. However, the IRS maintains Wilkins didn’t know about the targeting until it became widely known this year and noted that the counsel’s office has about 1,600 attorneys, according to a report in The Hill.

Today’s testimony, beginning at 11 a.m., will feature Carter Hull, a veteran of almost 50 years with the IRS who has told investigators he was one of those who directed the screening of conservative groups. Hull said he had enough information to make a determination about the groups himself, but was ordered by then-director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner to forward the applications to her and to the IRS chief counsel office.

He told investigators it was the first time in 48 years he’d received such directions, according to Fox News.

Also expected to testify today is Elizabeth Hofacre, an IRS agent who told investigators low-level employees are being wrongfully blamed for the scandal by Lerner and others in top IRS leadership positions.

Lerner herself has refused to testify before the Oversight committee. She invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at a May 22 hearing, but Republicans on the committee think she had already waived the right and could still be forced to testify.

Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron predicted to Bill O’Reilly Wednesday night that the hearing today will make the White House very nervous.

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