White House Didn’t Tell Obama About IRS Investigation!

There is a reason that President Barack Obama found out about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups on the news — his senior staff opted not to tell him.

White House lawyers were told about the Treasury Department’s investigation into the politically-motivatived targeting of the groups in April. During the daily press briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted that senior staff also knew about the investigation, but decided not to tell President Obama because they wanted to wait for the final report:

With the knowledge of an investigation, the White House held to a “cardinal rule” that it should not get involved in an external investigation, Carney said during his daily briefing. “No one in this building intervened in an ongoing independent investigation or did anything that could be seen as intervening,” he said.

“To the chagrin of some who would have liked us to get more in front of this, we appropriately waited,” Carney later added.
[…]
Though senior staff knew of the probe, Carney said [White House counsel Kathy] Ruemmler concluded that the investigation was “not a matter she should convey to the president” until the report was finalized.

Based on what we know, some staffers in the White House counsel office were made aware of the Treasury Department’s investigation into the matter on Thursday, April 16th. White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler was informed of the investigation on Wednesday, April 24th. Ruemmler then told White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who answers directly to President Obama.

On Thursday, April 30th, Joseph Grant, acting-commissioner of the IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division, responded to the draft report from the Treasury Department’s Inspector General and acknowledges “some errors occurred.” But Grant attributed these “errors” to a “significant increase in the number of section 501(c)(3) and section 501(c)(4) applications from organizations that appeared to be, or planned to be, engaged in political campaign activity.”

Of course, that claim that the IRS had seen an influx of applications for tax-exempt status has been proven false. Grant later resigned his post.

The story broke on Friday, May 10th, as Jay Carney was being peppered by the White House press corp over Benghazi. Lois Lerner, director of the Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division, was asked about the discrimination of these conservative groups. She admitted that the IRS had discriminated against the groups and apologized. It was later discovered that Lerner, who surprisingly still has a job, planted the question a day in advance.

On Monday, May 13th, President Obama addressed the matter for the first time. He told reporters that he learned of the story through news reports, but he spoke as though the matter hadn’t been confirmed.

Given how much power the IRS has and the likelihood that this would turn into a huge scandal, providing a movement that aided Republicans in their effort to take over the House — why wouldn’t White House staff let President Obama know about this?

It’s hard to grasp this because one would have to believe that staffers in the White House are so incompetent that they didn’t think about the potential for backlash. No one sneezes in Washington, DC without thinking about political ramifications.

The other side of the coin is “plausible deniability.” That angle only makes sense if President Obama knew about the targeting earlier, which is entirely possible, and is trying to distance himself from it.

Does it sound like a conspiracy theory? Sure. But it’s hard to fathom why White House staff would have kept their boss out of the loop on an issue of this magnitude.

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Posted on May 21, 2013, in Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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