House Republicans on Thursday broadened their investigation into the IRS’s improper targeting of conservative groups, questioning whether the Justice Department might have played a role.
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and 16 other GOP lawmakers said that the Justice Department had shown interest in prosecuting tax-exempt groups that were dishonest about their political activity, in what they called just the latest sign that Democrats pressured administration officials into unfairly scrutinizing Tea Party groups.
The Republicans said they want Justice to explain their role in the examination of tax-exempt groups, and have requested to interview Richard Pilger, a Justice Department official, about an e-mail conversation he had with former IRS official Lois Lerner about potential prosecutions.
That conversation, prompted by a suggestion from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), happened just two days before Lerner acknowledged and apologized for the IRS’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups at a Washington conference.
Issa and the other Republicans, citing newly released e-mails, want to know whether more senior officials at the Justice Department wanted Pilger to discuss the matter with Lerner. Pilger told Lerner on May 8, 2013, that “I have been asked to run something by you.”
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