Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell tells National Review that Steven Miller, the acting head of the Internal Revenue Service, should step down.
“He should resign,” the senator says. “Believe me, if this was a Republican administration doing all this, the New York Times and Washington Post would be in absolute meltdown.”
President Obama, he adds, shouldn’t escape blame: “They all take their cues from the tone expressed by the president, and he’s made it clear that this administration is perfectly willing to crack down on critics.”
Miller worked as a deputy commissioner of the IRS under Douglas Shulman, who ran the agency from 2008 to late 2012. He and Shulman have been the focus of public outrage over the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
McConnell also says that the resignation of top officials, though recommended, won’t alleviate the Obama administration’s IRS headache. Congressional leaders are only beginning to delve into what happened, and investigations and hearings are being planned.
“This is just getting started,” he tells me. “Finally, people get it. This is a lot bigger than just one person. This a whole effort by the administration, across the board, to squelch their opponents, to shut them up, and, finally, they’ve done it in a way that will allow us to call attention to it nationwide.”
McConnell is open to the idea of a special prosecutor, but he hasn’t decided whether to ask for an appointment. “We will have to see how things develop,” he says. “But, finally, they overstepped in a way people can identify with. Everybody knows the power of the IRS, and it’s about time they, in effect, got caught in a way that the American public fully understands.”
“I cannot resist the temptation to say, ‘I told you so,’” he says, citing his work as a longtime critic of the administration’s efforts to regulate political speech. “I zeroed in on this last summer after reports of this intimidation surfaced in Kentucky and elsewhere. I’ve been warning about this for years. In fact, I launched a campaign on this issue last year, and the Washington Post dismissed it as a bunch of red herrings. Now we know it’s not a red herring, it’s the real deal.”
“The whole effort by the administration to silence their enemies is going on across the board — at the FEC, the FCC, the SEC, and the HHS,” he says. And the legislative vehicle for those efforts, the DISCLOSE Act, which would require more openness about campaign spending, “should go nowhere.”