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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript - IRS Targeting Controversy


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MATTHEWS: Congressman Reichert, I respect everything you`re doing here.
I`m just questioning some of the thinking by the chairman of the committee,
Mr. Levin mentioned. Is there any evidence on your side of the aisle that
there was interference from the White House in the IRS mishandling of these

REICHERT: Well, I think it`s important to remember that what we heard in
the committee hearing today was that this is an audit, and that the
investigation, although the -- Mr. George could not confirm verbally in the
hearing that the investigation was continuing, I think that`s the
impression he left upon all of us in the committee. There is an ongoing

Now, the audit occurred. Now the investigation occurred. But you can draw
your own conclusion, and so can your viewers, when you listen to the
testimony of Mr. Miller. Mr. Miller can`t even remember his -- the names
of the people who are in his chain of command. He can`t even remember who
he talked to last, what was the conversation about. Did he talk to anybody
in the secretary of treasury`s office? He can`t even remember dates, times
and places.

And finally, he couldn`t remember, when I asked him, Who did you talk to
about this? Who came up with the criteria?


REICHERT: He finally gave me the name...

LEVIN: Chris, can I break in?

REICHERT: He finally gave me the name, Chris, but he could not remember
what she told him. Now, look, this isn`t somebody reporting...

LEVIN: But let me break in here...

REICHERT: This isn`t somebody -- this isn`t somebody reporting late to
work, Chris.



REICHERT: This is a serious issue that addresses civil rights.


MATTHEWS: OK, Mr. Levin, is that true? Did they find out who was the one
who said look for patriot groups, calling themselves patriot groups? Look
for groups that have Tea Party in their names. Do we know who that was

LEVIN: I don`t think we have all the names. The people who did that were
mistaken. It was a serious mistake.

But you asked Mr. Reichert a question. Was there any evidence of this
hearing to support the statement by Chairman Camp? And again, I read it,
it was "part of a culture of cover-up in this administration." There was
no evidence whatsoever at this hearing.

The IG, when asked, said it was not politically motivated and there was no
outside influence. And there was no evidence of corruption.

So you asked Mr. Reichert a question, the answer is no, there was no
evidence. These were serious, serious mistakes made in the exempt
organization people in Cincinnati.

REICHERT: Mr. Levin, when the witness cannot answer the question, cannot
even remember who he spoke to...

MATTHEWS: Right. That`s -- that`s a good point, but what about my point?
I agree. We made that point. You made the point that Mr. Miller didn`t
respond to your very good question, who came up with the idea of coding
these people?

My question to you is, in the day of hearings and anything before that in
terms of your committee investigations, have you come upon any evidence
that the White House was involved?

REICHERT: Look, the...

LEVIN: The answer to that is no.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m asking Mr. Reichert.

REICHERT: Mr. Levin...

MATTHEWS: Mr. Reichert, is it yes or no?

REICHERT: ... I think the question -- the question was addressed to me.
And I...

MATTHEWS: And what`s the answer?

LEVIN: Then answer it.


MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Mr. Reichert.

REICHERT: If I`m allowed to answer it, Mr. Levin? Thank you very much. I
think Mr. Camp may have information that I don`t have, and so that would be
a question you could put to Mr. Camp. All the members of the committee
have different levels of information that they have access to.


REICHERT: But over the course of this investigation, we will learn the
answers to those questions. And the fact that this witness today,
represents the United States government, our White House, our secretary of
treasury, our IRS, and the fact he can`t remember a thing...

MATTHEWS: OK, I accept that.

REICHERT: ... highly -- highly suggests to me...

MATTHEWS: That`s a good point. But if...


MATTHEWS: OK. I agree. But if Mr. Levin is correct and the IG is
correct, because he did stipulate this, as well, he found this, that there
was no evidence of White House influence or Obama campaign influence -- if
that`s correct, is this still appropriate of your chairman to keep saying
"culture of corruption" throughout the government and this is an example of
it, if it had nothing to do with the presidential influence at all?

REICHERT: I don`t think that`s proven yet. Mr. Levin...

MATTHEWS: But if it is, is that...


REICHERT: Mr. Levin may say that -- no, I don`t think it is the end of
this charge because we -- we have a duty to find out what happened in the

MATTHEWS: Well, sure you do.

REICHERT: ... why -- why were certain people...

MATTHEWS: But you continue to -- look -- OK, here`s the question. If you
have no evidence right now, this Friday, of any White House involvement and
don`t have any evidence next week and the week after that and the week
after that, when do you stop accusing the White House of being corrupt in
this regard?

REICHERT: No, I`m not accusing...

MATTHEWS: At what point do you say, We don`t have evidence? We can`t keep
calling them corrupt.

REICHERT: Chris, I`m not accusing the White House of anything. I haven`t
made that statement at all.

MATTHEWS: But the "culture of corruption" from this administration --
what`s that mean?

REICHERT: That`s not coming from me. I didn`t say that. What I`m saying
is -- Look, I`m an old cop. I want to base my -- what I say on facts. And


REICHERT: ... today I was looking for facts from Mr. Miller. Mr. Miller
did not provide any facts, Chris. Listen to the testimony.


LEVIN: Could I say -- let me say a word.

REICHERT: There were no facts, Mr. Levin, that Mr. Miller provided to this


LEVIN: But Chris...

REICHERT: ... as to why and how this criteria was applied.


MATTHEWS: Mr. Reichert, you did a good job here. I want Mr. Levin now to
take a minute. What do you want done here?

I personally want to see the bad apples thrown out of the barrel. And I`m
not going to be satisfied watching this. As a typical person, if you`ve a
big problem, there`s got to be a big solution. Two people walking isn`t
enough. The American people are still going to believe, if they see the
same people there, they`ve got the same problem there. Only if you -- as
Charlie Rangel said today, Mr. Rangel said there`s a cancer here, you got
to remove it. Do you agree with Mr. Rangel?

LEVIN: I think there has to be action. Look, I was the first Democrat to
say that Mr. Miller should be relieved of his responsibilities, and so Ms.
Lerner. I said that a few days ago.

I believe absolutely we need to get to the bottom of it. Just don`t throw
apples at the top if you have no evidence to support it. And in the
hearing today, there was no such evidence. We should have a nonpartisan
hearing, not look for political points.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK, let me agree with -- thank you both very much for
coming on. Mr. Reichert, please come back again. Mr. Levin, my old
friend, thank you, sir, for coming on.

LEVIN: Nice to be with you.


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