Citing IRS targeting, Cruz compares Obama to Nixon

Citing IRS targeting, Cruz compares Obama to Nixon
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Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhat to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Cruz: White House not expected to push motion to dismiss impeachment articles MORE (R-Texas) accused the IRS on Wednesday of purposefully targeting conservative groups for political reasons, and failing years later to have cleaned up the problem. 

But Cruz, who’s running for president in 2016, made sure that a comparison of two White House occupants — President Obama and Richard Nixon — were part of his case as well. 

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Cruz, who’s made abolishing the IRS a part of his presidential pitch, noted that Nixon had tried to use the agency to target his political opponents some four decades ago.

The difference during Obama’s tenure, Cruz suggested, is that the IRS didn’t have the courage to stand up to the administration.

“If the IRS has become a partisan arm of the Democratic National Committee, there can be no stronger argument for ending the IRS as we know it,” Cruz said at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Lois Lerner, then a top IRS official, acknowledged more than two years ago that the agency wrongly gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

John Koskinen, the IRS’s commissioner, has said it’s not his call to say whether the agency deliberately targeted those groups, though at Wednesday’s hearing he did note that a Treasury inspector general found no evidence of political motivation.

The IRS chief, who saw House Republicans call for his job this week, added that he’s now testified before Congress some 30 times in roughly a year and a half as commissioner about the tax-exempt manner.

He found an ally in Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsWhat to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover-up,' 'national disgrace' MORE (D-Del.), who accused Cruz of unspooling “a rehashing of complex conspiracy theories already thoroughly investigated.”

“These are very serious allegations,” Coons said. “They are also unfounded.”

But Cruz latched on to Lerner’s own beliefs – who once called conservatives “crazies” – to make his case.

“Richard Nixon’s ghost must have been smiling,” Cruz said.