The Wall Street Journal reports
Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency's Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010.
Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials, who have blamed lower-level workers in Cincinnati.
Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants.
"I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull's influence or input," she said, according to the transcripts.
Mr. Hull could not be reached for comment.
The interviews provide new clues to the puzzle slowly being pieced together in several congressional probes and a criminal investigation by the Justice Department. Investigators want to know exactly how the IRS initiated extra scrutiny to tea-party and other conservative grass roots organizations that were seeking tax-exempt status.