The Washington Post reports today that White House lawyer Kathryn Ruemmler was notified of the IRS scandal in which conservative groups were targeted for additional scrutiny on April 24. While she shared that information with some other White House aides, she decided to leave President Obama in the dark so he couldn’t be accused of interfering with an investigation.
The notice Ruemmler saw on April 24 gave her a thumbnail sketch of a disturbing finding: that the IRS had improperly targeted tea party and other conservative groups. She shared the news with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other senior White House aides, who all recognized the danger of the findings.
But they agreed that it would be best not to share it with President Obama until the independent audit was completed and made public, in part to protect him from even the appearance of trying to influence an investigation.
This account of how the White House tried to deal with the IRS inquiry — based on documents, public statements and interviews with multiple senior officials, including one directly involved in the discussions — shows how carefully Obama’s top aides were trying to shield him from any second-term scandal that might swamp his agenda or, worse, jeopardize his presidency.
The episode also offers a glimpse into the workings of Obama’s insular West Wing… (Read More)
Then Lois “I plead the Fifth” Lerner went out and publicly admitted what the IRS had been up to and muddled their careful plan. But Bryan Preston notes that this account of who-knew-what-when doesn’t really add up.
That doesn’t square very well with the fact that Deputy Chief of Staff Mark Childress had already worked with the IRS to roll the scandal out. Unless, that is, Lerner and fake-fired acting commissioner Steven Miller went rogue on May 10 and ran the planted question scam on their own. And Childress was also acting on his own. He still has his job, as does Lois “I plead the Fifth” Lerner. Miller was “fired” in a head fake that involves President Obama himself, as he was the one who conducted the fake firing in front of the entire nation.
But other evidence squares even less well with the White House’s current narrative.
During testimony on the scandal in the House Wednesday, it was revealed that then IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman had visited the Obama White House 118 times. That’s a staggering number, amounting to one visit a week, more or less. Shulman allowed two reasons for those visits — Easter Egg rolls, and discussing the implementation of ObamaCare. Eliminating the Easter Egg rolls leaves us with about 115 meetings if you count 2013. Did any of those meetings include discussion of the “careful plan” or his own agency’s rampant abuse of taxpayers, about which he claims he did not know?
He also claimed in 2012 that there was “absolutely” no targeting. That absolute statement has absolutely fallen apart against hard facts.
The traffic was not one-way. Shulman got his frequent visitor card punched at the White House while White House counsel, it turns out, was frequently visiting the Treasury Department’s chief counsel in late 2012. (Read More)
Also, The Wall Street Journal pointed out that there really was no need to protect the president from learning about the investigation, because the IG’s report was just an audit.
Now there’s a false choice. The Treasury Inspector General’s report, for starters, was an audit, not an inviolable independent investigation. He lacked subpoena power and could bring no criminal charges. Having the President know of the IRS’s mistakes so that he could act to correct the problem was not a bridge too far or even clouding the purity of the process. Those things could have been done simultaneously without compromising Treasury’s investigation.
Really all they are doing is covering for their boss, so he doesn’t need to be held accountable for anything that happens on his watch.
There’s a certain infantilization of the federal government here that should be especially alarming to taxpayers who have ever crossed paths with the IRS. The agency has the power to make citizens lives miserable, ruin their businesses and garnish their wages. Anyone facing an audit is unlikely to get away with the evasions now in display in the federal bureaucracy.
If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because “part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast.”
In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod’s remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama’s lack of responsibility, prove the tea party’s point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up.
During a press conference this morning Nancy Pelosi made the same argument for lack of accountability in government, saying “Well, the president doesn’t know about everything that is going on in every agency of government.” Well, allrighty then, the buck stops nowhere, and we just have all of these “independent” government agencies going rogue all on their own.