As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Obama Evades Question on When He Knew of IRS Actions

In a potentially ominous development, President Obama carefully avoided saying Thursday whether he knew about the IRS targeting of conservative groups before the White House counsel was supposedly informed last month, raising new questions about when Obama and his advisers became aware of the targeting and whether they had anything to do with it.

Obama was asked about the IRS issue during a Rose Garden press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

Using precise phrasing that gave the appearance of responsiveness while really saying very little, Obama said he was not aware of the Treasury inspector general’s report on the IRS targeting before the report became public. But Obama wasn’t asked about the IG report. He was asked by Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg whether he knew about that the original IRS targeting of conservatives that began in 2010 and continued until last year, not whether he was aware of a report issued this week.

Here, in full, is Obama’s response:

But let me make sure that I answer your specific question.  I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press. Typically, the IG reports are not supposed to be widely distributed or shared.  They tend to be a process that everybody is trying to protect the integrity of.  But what I’m absolutely certain of is that the actions that were described in that IG report are unacceptable.

Ironically, as you can see, this does not at all address Goldman’s specific question, which was this:

Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd?  And when they did find out, do you think that you should have learned about it before you learned about it from news reports as you said last Friday?  And also, are you opposed to there being a special council appointed to lead the Justice Department investigation?

The question is poorly phrased: Goldman in fact answers her own question for Obama by suggesting she accepts that “you learned about it from news reports.” Nevertheless, she does ask if anybody in the White House – presumably including the president himself – knew about “the agency’s actions,” and that is not a question Obama addresses.

Obama’s response is lawyerly and even Clintonian, evoking Bill Clinton’s response to a question about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, “There is not a sexual relationship.” Clinton was trying technically not to lie while leaving the impression that there never was a sexual relationship.

Similarly, Obama appears to be trying to suggest he knew nothing of the IRS targeting of Republicans by saying he didn’t know about the IG report.

The strategy may be working.

“At a press conference Thursday, Obama reiterated that he did not know about IRS targeting of conservative groups before an inspector general’s report was leaked to the news media,” wrote the Washington Post.

But that’s not what he said. He said he did not know about the IG report.

Obama’s evasiveness adds to the need for a thorough investigation led by a special prosecutor who can resist political influence. But Obama Thursday said he did not support appointing a special prosecutor, arguing that the administration and Congress can get to the bottom of the matter without one.

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41 Responses to Obama Evades Question on When He Knew of IRS Actions

  1. “But Obama Thursday said he did not support appointing a special prosecutor, arguing that the administration and Congress can get to the bottom of the matter without one.”

    How is he so sure of that? Maybe he has the goods on Republican leadership and he knows they will do as he tells him. Just like Boehner won’t call for a select committee to investigate Benghazi even though more than 60% of the Republican caucus have signed on to Rep Wolf’s resolution to create one.

  2. Drudge has a new headline in big red letters saying that the woman who was in charge of the IRS targetting the Tea Party is now in charge of IRS Obamacare!

  3. Nothing this guy does passes the smell test.
    It’s amazing how the WHPCorps(e) has lost its collective olfactory sense.
    Okay, okay, I know it’s overly cute, BUT in one of my local papers, on the op-ed page, the bloom is beginning, just beginning, mind you, to be off the rose.
    EVERYONE in this administration and the 45 (and still counting) czars is proud of being uninformed, unknowing, stupid and ignorant.
    Sometimes I wonder whether the true o-philes have something organically wrong with them.
    (Note to self: DSM V might or might not be useful.)

  4. His nose is already about a foot longer than Nixon’s. A special prosecutor is the only way we will ever get to the truth. The question is, will the MSM support that idea, or will they all fall back into line after getting over the AP scandal?

    • I’ve been thinking about that too. Once they have kissed and made up, I suspect the MSM would eagerly get back in line. But the IRS story is like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Examples of abuse just keep multiplying. You’ve probably read already that there is a question about the IRS giving Harry Reid Romney’s tax records. I’m reading today that they may have targeted groups working on behalf of Scott Walker’s recall fight. They went after right to lifers on instigation by PP. They have gone after Catholics, Jews, and Billy Graham now. Where does it end?

      The MSM is not the Sorcerer who is going to be able to stop the IRS scandal, but I also think the scandal Obama is most worried about is Benghazi and they will all work to dampen it down.

  5. But I bet he knew about this:

    “The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.” Drudge/ABC http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/irs-official-in-charge-during-tea-party-targeting-now-runs-health-care-office/

    And oh yeah, there is an National Treasury Employees Union, who represent among others, IRS workers, and who not surprisingly lean left in their contributions. http://minx.cc/?post=340067

    So much for cleaning up the IRS and guaranteeing their impartiality.

    • TIMOTHY GEITHNER IS KEY TO IRS SCANDAL
      May16
      2013t Written by Chriss W. Street

      Tim GeithnerActing IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller was forced by to resign today, predominantly due to the July 7, 2011 memorandum that I discovered and published last weekend in my report, IRS HAD ENEMIES LIST IN 2010 & 2012. The document is written on U.S. Treasury Department stationary and demanded senior IRS management terminate attempts to force donations to selected tax-exempt groups be fully-taxed as gifts. The IRS admitted the groups examined were conservative, such as Tea Parties. The Miller memo appeared to confirm that he knowingly lied to Congress while under oath at least twice last year about predatory audits of conservative organizations. But Mr. Miller has told the press he is only resigning when his “acting assignment ends in early June.” I was suspicious Mr. Miller’s resignation was an effort to prevent him from being required to testify again under oath this Friday to three Congressional Committees. But if Mr. Miller is staying until June, he must testify on Friday. With the President throwing the IRS Commissioner “under the bus,” Mr. Miller may be ready to throw former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Obama under the bus.

      Steven T. Miller is a career civil servant at the IRS. He holds a Juris Doctorate law degree from George Washington University and a Master of Laws in taxation from Georgetown University. He has held several senior positions at the IRS and worked for a number of years as an attorney in the IRS Chief Counsel’s office. He also served as a Congressional staff member for the Joint Committee on Taxation. Holding prestigious law degrees and having given harsh warnings to senior IRS staff in 2011 to ban predatory, it is doubtful Mr. Miller would have authorized continued examinations unless ordered to by his direct boss, former IRA Commissioner Douglas H Shulman.

      Douglas H. Shulman was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate as IRS Commissioner on Friday March 14, 2008 at the youthful age of 41. Mr. Shulman formerly served as the Vice Chairman of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), at an even more youthful age, where he made a name for himself working closely with New York Federal Reserve Bank Chairman, Timothy Geithner pioneering over-the-counter trading of derivatives by banks. As IRA Commissioner, he reported directly to Timothy Geithner as U.S. Treasury Secretary.

      Over the next four days after his confirmation, the legendary Bear Stearns Brokerage firm collapsed, heralding the beginning the worst recession since the Great Depression. The U.S. Federal Reserve was required to take responsibility for $29 billion in toxic sub-prime assets from Bear Stearns’ portfolio. As the FINRA whiz-kid he was the regulatory architect that championed banks and brokerage firms’ taking on sub-prime asset leverage. Douglas Shulman again showed incredible timing for avoiding horrific personal blame for scandal by resigning on November 9, 2012, a day after the reelection of President Barack Obama.

      By the time Barack Obama came into office in January of 2009, real estate was collapsing, the stock market was down by 40% and unemployment was about to vault to over 10%. President Obama summed up his opinions of leveraged banks on CBS’s “60 Minutes” stated: “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.” Mr. Obama went on to say: “They’re still puzzled why it is that people are mad at the banks. Well, let’s see. You guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it’s gone through in—in decades, and you guys caused the problem. And we’ve got 10% unemployment.”

      It was always baffling to me that IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman had managed to convince the President to not demand his resignation as punishment for his dubious leadership at FINRA that contributed to the financial crisis. As IRS Commissioner, Mr. Shulman must have received a copy of Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Steven T. Miller’s memo of July 7, 2011 that screamed the audits and examinations had: “significant legal, administrative and policy implications with respect to which we have little enforcement history.” It is fully documented President Franklin Roosevelt used the IRS to investigate and intimidate his political enemies, so IRS Commissioner Shulman must have known that Mr. Miller was concerned the retaliation against conservative groups exceeded FDR’s using the IRS against political enemies.

      The IRS continues to mislead the public, as Fox News reported that at least 471 tax-exempt organizations, not the 300 admitted to by the IRS, were examined with “extra scrutiny”. Then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner must have received a copy of the 2011 Miller memo, because it was written on Department of Treasury stationary and Shulman and Miller reported to him. Therefore, to find out if the IRS has been running a massive enemies list for the White House, Congress must demand the Timothy Geithner testify under oath.

      Harry Truman said that he took personal responsibility for the actions of his Administration’s by saying: “Buck stops here.” Barack Obama said at his Benghazi press conference “there is no there, there.” The question the American people want to know about any illegal use of the IRS for political purposes, “Is there any here, here.”

  6. Dictator Obama is a liar. He lies about everything even when he does not have to. Anyone who doesn’t believe that Dictator Obama and his evil female Rasputin Valerie Jarrett did not direct the IRS to punish their political enemies before the election is either a fool or terminally stupid.

  7. If Obama had NOTHING to hide, he would let a special prosecutor do the job, that is, if he had nothing to hide and if he really wanted to be truthful with the American people, but we know he is a low-class politician from Chicago and that he has plenty to hide. The President is mentally immature and it shows in his presidency.

  8. This is just too much. Why can’t the guy be impeached, convicted and sent back to Kenya?
    This house of cards has to fall. Incompetent and stupid are the onley words to describe this Prez.

  9. I don’t understand why the next reporter called on doesn’t say, “Mr. President, you didn’t answer the question.” Are they all so dim or brow beaten they cannot do that for each other and finally get the response (or reaction, most likely in this case) they are seeking? When they allow him to get away with this, they are aiding and abetting.

  10. His answer (or rather, non-answer) reminds me of the all the Pageant contestants over the years who are asked a question so the judges can get an idea of how they would handle questions by the media as Miss Whatever. They rarely answered the question asked but sprouted out some memorized points that had the audience scratching their heads. In their case, it was usually nervousness…in Obama’s case it’s quite different.

  11. No matter the question the WH response takes me back to days of
    Sgt Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes…………I believe it was:
    “I know nothing”,”I hear nothing” or “I see nothing”……………

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