Marco Rubio to FOX News on IRS: 'President Doesn't Have Clean Hands ...'
Around the State
Marco Rubio, Florida's firebrand of a U.S. senator, appeared on FOX News Friday in a tell-it-like-it-is interview with the network's Martha McCallum. Here is a complete text of the interview.
MARTHA MCCALLUM, Fox News: Are these criminal offenses at the IRS, as you see them?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: They are. Well they are criminal offenses under existing law for supervisors, not for the ground-level employees. I have, actually, a bill that makes it a criminal offense for them as well. Let’s understand what we’re talking about here. We’re not talking about a mistake, we’re talking about a deliberate abuse of power. And I can’t think of a more powerful agency in the U.S. government than the IRS.
It affects every single American. Every single American. What it means to be in trouble with the IRS is they can take away your wages, they can take away your home, it’s a very powerful agency. And you have people in that agency that deliberately targeted conservatives. Because they were called the tea party or a liberty group or they were fighting to make the country a better place. It’s just an outrage. It is a crime. An abuse of power is a crime.
MCCALLUM: You know, the president said he was outraged at this behavior, he called it “intolerable.” He stopped short of talking about throwing the legal book at these folks. And the big question would be why? If this is illegal, and as you said, the laws are on the books already, if you want to make a statement as president about how egregious you think this is, why would you not do that?
RUBIO: I don’t know. Maybe, look. What he should have said yesterday, in addition to it being outrageous is, you know, “we want the Justice Department to fully investigate this, and if this has been done deliberately and there’s a crime here, people will be prosecuted, no matter what level of the IRS they’re in.
Look, the president doesn’t have clean hands in this, because as I said yesterday on the floor of the Senate, this organization of his, this administration has created a culture of intimidation. It's his campaign, it's this White House, it’s basically an attempt to muscle anyone who is their political opponent and to use whatever power they have at their disposal to intimidate people that they don’t agree with.
So, whether it’s the Associated Press, whether it’s witnesses at the State Department, or whether it’s using the IRS to go after groups that don’t agree with the Obama agenda, this is an administration that has created a culture of intimidation through its campaign and through the White House throughout the federal government
MCCALLUM: You know, a lot of folks out there would say that you can’t make that line, you can’t draw that connection, in this IRS case. They would say, that this really comes down to some low-level IRS individuals in Cincinnati and perhaps Washington. And that the president has really been at an arm’s length from this thing.
RUBIO: You know, we have the evidence that people like Mr. Vandersloot, who was a contributor to the Romney campaign, he was attacked on an Obama website. They outed him, or they attacked him as one of the eight bad people who were supporting Mitt Romney. Within a few weeks, he got two IRS audits. Not one. But two IRS audits coming after him. This is an organization in the Obama campaign and in the Obama White House that has created a culture of intimidation. Of hardball tactics against their political opponents. It’s not just the IRS. It’s the NLRB, who went after Boeing for moving their facility from Washington to South Carolina. And there will be other cases like this that we’ll be talking about in the days to come.
So, there is a connection, in the sense that they created a culture of intimidation where this type of behavior is rewarded and modeled, and in my opinion encouraged.
MCCALLUM: So they’re on [the] offense now with this, they want to distance themselves from this act. They made sure that the acting head of the IRS resigned. What are you going to do in your capacity to try to prove that there is a connection that goes higher up the food chain here on this issue? While they’re trying to make sure that everybody believes there absolutely is not. What will you do to try to prove that?
RUBIO: No. 1, I’ll continue to talk about this culture of intimidation in this White House and this administration, [that] loves to demonize their political opponents. They’re not content with just debating the merits of the issues. They want to convince people that anyone who doesn’t agree with them on any issue is a bad person.
And so we’re going to continue to point to how that culture of intimidation trickles down the federal government agencies. We’re going to continue to call for criminal investigations and we’re going to look for a way to change the law so that it is a crime. It is a crime for an IRS employee to target people based on their political leanings. To leak documents to the press for political purposes, it's just wrong, it's an abuse of power.
MCCALLUM: Do you believe that people in the White House, or the president, or people who worked on the campaign were aware of the actions that the IRS was taking?
RUBIO: I didn’t say that. I don’t know if they were aware of it; what I know they’re aware of is the culture they’ve created where that kind of behavior is not only just tolerated, but potentially even encouraged. When you created a culture of intimidation, when your campaign and others go around saying if you oppose us, if you oppose our agenda, we’re going to muscle you using any means at our disposal, including governmental agencies -- when you create that kind of environment, this is the kind of thing that happens. This is what happens when an administration becomes all about politics.
This is a president that’s campaigning all the time. Even now, he’s got a full-time political apparatus ongoing throughout the country because it’s all about politics for them. It’s all about gaining the upper hand, it’s all about demonizing their opponents, it’s all about crushing the people who stand in their way. It’s an old-school hardball politics that has no place in our governing mechanisms in our federal government.