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Washington • The former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday he disagrees with the charge by Sen. Orrin Hatch that the IRS offered a "lie by omission" in not responding to questions about whether the agency was targeting conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.

Under questioning by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Douglas Shulman, who left the IRS in November, noted that he didn't sign a letter back to Hatch asking about extra scrutiny given tea party-related groups.

"I want to know what you think of this idea of 'lie by omission,' " Chaffetz said, cutting off Shulman from his initial response.

"I disagree with it," Shulman said.

Chaffetz, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also quizzed Shulman on whether he discussed nonprofit advocacy organizations at any of his 118 visits to the White House.

"Not that I remember," Shulman said four times as Chaffetz continued to press the former IRS official.

The exchange turned testy at one point when Chaffetz demanded that Shulman grade himself on his promise upon Senate confirmation that the IRS stay politically neutral.

After Shulman said that he believes he was a "good leader and public servant," Chaffetz again cut him off.

"I know that you know [what] letter grades are," Chaffetz said.

"I'm not going to grade myself," Shulman replied.

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