Lawyers for the Obama Treasury Department threatened an IRS employee before his testimony to Congressional investigators over the administration’s illegal funding of Obamacare “Cost Sharing Reduction” (CSR) payments. The employee, IRS Chief Risk Officer David Fisher, was threatened with an “overly broad, inapplicable regulation.”

As the report notes on page 145 Mr. Fisher wanted to testify without government lawyers because of concerns that they did not represent his interests:

“One witness, however, did not want agency counsel to accompany him…. Mr. Fisher told Committee staff that he did not believe that Treasury counsel represented his interests and did not wish for them to attend the interview. Mr. Fisher also stated that he had already spoken to Treasury counsel and told them he did not want representatives from that office to attend his interview.”

In a letter to Mr. Fisher, government lawyers explicitly state that the IRS “forbids its employees and former employees from speaking to Congress without explicit permission from the IRS.” The letter references “Touhy regulations” as justification for this prohibition, however these regulations typically do not apply to Congressional information requests, a fact that was not made clear in the letter provided to Mr. Fisher.

As the report notes, this put Mr. Fisher in an untenable situation:

“Congress requested information from him, and he was willing to provide it, but Treasury threatened him with an overly broad, inapplicable regulation.”

Mr. Fisher was eventually subpoenaed by investigators so he could speak freely about both the program and the reasons for the administration’s unprecedented obstruction. As the report notes, his testimony provided key information over the illegal CSR payments:

“The answers he gave in provided more insight into the Administration’s decision-making processes than those of any other individual the committees interviewed with agency counsel present. His answers also shed light onto why the Administration has restricted the testimony of every other witness—going so far as to not letting witnesses answer questions about the names of individuals involved in the decision-making process—and why the Administration has failed to comply with the committees’ document subpoenas.”

The administration went to extreme lengths to hide the truth throughout the entire investigation. Since the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched its investigation, multiple agencies have refused to provide information, selectively applied the law, and even pressured one witness not to testify. As the report notes:

“The Administration successfully limited the testimony of most of their current and former employees by sending Administration counsels to attend the interviews. These counsels instructed witnesses not to provide full and complete answers to the Committees’ questions.”