Nightly News   |  May 14, 2013

Attorney General orders FBI to investigate IRS

Three congressional committees have planned hearing into what interaction, if any, the IRS had with Treasury officials or the White House. Beginning in 2010, the IRS singled out conservative groups that were applying for tax exempt status according to a Treasury Department Inspector General report. NBC’s Lisa Myers reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening, as a lot of american adults not so fondly remember, the last time the government was found looking into the phone calls of reporters and using the irs for political purposes, it was the nixon era, and while times have changed and circumstances are different, that subject came up at the obama white house today as the administration now scrambles on several fronts. we begin with the potentially illegal use of the irs to scrutinize some american groups and citizens because of their politics, and in this case because of conservative politics . again, this is just one front we're covering tonight. nbc's lisa myers starts us off live from our washington newsroom. lisa, good evening.

>> bri bran, good evening. today the president's spokesperson categorically denied the white house had anything to do with the irs targeting conservative non-profit groups. today's inspector-general report fuels more on what happened. the report officially confirmed what tea party groups and conservatives have said for more than a year that the irs was targeting them for extra scrutiny. the inspector-general's report says beginning in 2010 the irs used inappropriate criteria to single out tea party and other organizations, based upon their names or policy positions when applyingor tax exempt status. it said ineffective management allowed improper criteria to stay in place for more than 18 months and resulted in substantial delays on applications and unnecessary information requests. the irs has fixed some of the problems according to the ig but needs to do more.

>> when the irs starts behaving like a rogue agent, that considers itself above the law , we are in truly dangerous territory.

>> reporter: acting irs steven miller says mistakes were made but they were no no way due to any political or partisan innovation. he blamed too many cases and a lack of sensitivity but there is a firestorm in congress because miller knew a year ago that the irs had targeted conservative groups and said nothing.

>> this is either one of the greatest cases of incompetence that i've ever seen or it was the irs willfully not telling congress the truth.

>> reporter: good the attorney-general said he's ordered an investigation by the fbi.

>> i think as everyone can agree if not criminal, they were certainly outramious and unacceptable but we are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations.

>> but republicans are unlikely to accept the obama administration investigating itself. three congressional committees already have planned hearings into what interaction, if any, the irs had with treasury officials or the white house and into whether anyone at the irs has been fired. brian?

>> lisa myers in our d.c. newsroom to start us off