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Why Issa Says He Stage-Directed the IRS Chief's Oath

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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Charles Dharapak/AP

In Monday’s rare evening hearing on lost emails at the Internal Revenue Service, House Oversight panel Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., startled many in the tension-filled room and around the country with his critique of Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen’s posture in holding up his hand to be sworn in.

“A little higher, thank you,” a furrow-browed Issa said in the manner of, say, Steven Spielberg.

On Fox News Wednesday night, Issa was asked by host Megyn Kelly to explain. She told Issa, “some said that made you look arrogant.”

Here the explanation, according to the transcript:

ISSA: In [Koskinen’s] previous testimony he had held it down, and, you know, we all understand whether you're looking years back at the tobacco hearings or anything else, you raise your right hand. All I really asked [was] that he raise it to a normal level. I only asked it because in fact at the Ways and Means Committee earlier he had sort of held it down and it seemed a little petty and silly. We've had witnesses who have stepped away from the other Wednesday [hearing] and so on. We just ask them to do the routine ordinary 'You raise your hand.' There are photographers taking pictures of it. It is a moment, and it should look that way. That's all.

KELLY: All right.

ISSA: There was no attempt to be arrogant. In fact, this gentleman came in with a great deal of respect in Washington. I’m sorry that he's losing it with a certain amount of half-truths he's been involved in.

KELLY: Chairman Issa, Good to see you.” 

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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