The IRS said Friday that it was sorry for what it called the “inappropriate” targeting of the conservative groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But according to a draft of a watchdog’s report obtained Saturday by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner, senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011.

The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week.

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