Spin-masters go to work: Obama’s chief counsel knew of IRS abuses weeks ago

Obama press confWhen asked last week when he first heard of the IRS targeting conservative groups, President Obama responded: “I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this. I think it was on Friday.”

A sentiment upheld yesterday by White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who told “Fox News Sunday” that Obama learned about it only after it had come out in the media.

However, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that a White House official said the president’s chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the IRS likely would show that conservative groups were inappropriately targeted.

In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general’s report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that “a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot,’ ” the official said.

Such an admission suggests that Obama was never notified of this news, but is that believable? Or was he intentionally not told? It seems many are skeptical, as a new White House petition was filed on Friday asking for an explanation for such glaring inconsistencies.

All of which raises the ever-familiar question: “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Keep in mind that the IRS effort of selectively targeting Tea Party groups for scrutiny began more than three years ago, and that the Treasury Department was informed in June. U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has also known for a year about the allegations.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, the White House declined to make Ruemmler available for comment and wouldn’t say whether she shared the information with anyone else in the senior administration staff.

Most transparent administration ever? Not so much.

Is this new revelation more proof of Obama’s ineffective management style? Perhaps a sign of his incompetence? Or is it a concerted effort to keep him uninformed about such matters to establish deniability?

The lawyers will say that by not telling Obama, the appearance of him meddling in an independent investigation is avoided, however, is the appearance of the president and his administration acting guilty until proven innocent not equally troublesome?


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Tom Tillison


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