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Obama Undermines DOJ Probe of IRS Targeting

In what can only be described as rank corruption itself, President Obama said Sunday there’s not a “smidgeon” of corruption involved in the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups before the 2012 election. Obama asserted this even as an investigation – led by an Obama donor – is continuing into the targeting.

The president spoke during a live interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News broadcast just before the Super Bowl

I can’t think of a better example of Chicagoland politics than to signal to your investigators how the probe is supposed to turn out. Now, Justice Department officials have their marching orders. And anyone who uncovers a “smidgeon” of corruption will have to worry about making the boss look like a liar or a fool, not to mention worrying about their employment status.

The interview, which I run for you below, is well worth watching. I give Obama some credit for submitting to an interview with O’Reilly, who – unlike any other reporter who questions Obama – asks only tough, direct questions that attempt to hold Obama accountable, and who tries to cut off Obama’s attempts to run out the clock with verbose answers containing no information.

The O’Reilly interview had several other quite newsworthy moments:

  • Obama ducked the question about whether Secretary of Defense Panetta told him the night of the Benghazi assault that it was a terrorist attack. Panetta had reportedly been informed by the general then heading the U.S. African command that this was a terrorist attack, not a demonstration.
  • Obama showed he has no good reason for not firing HHS Secretary Sebelius.
  • Obama repeatedly attacked Fox News. A president should not be assailing specific news outlets. It chills free speech and signals to his aides and the vast federal bureaucracy that the outlet if fair game.
  • Obama says the website is “fixed.” That’s not even remotely true. The site remains insecure; the system for sending payments to insurance companies is still under construction; it’s still not clear who has paid for their plans; and as the Washington Post reported today, if you make a mistake signing up, you’re screwed.

I sometimes think O’Reilly is a blowhard. But sometimes it takes someone like this to break through the stonewall.

Before I covered the White House, ABC’s Sam Donaldson used to annoy me too. I thought he was pompous and unnecessarily disrespectful to Ronald Reagan.

When I started working with Donaldson during Clinton’s last years, I watched how relentless he was and realized that he hadn’t just been a liberal reporter out to get Reagan. Rather, Donaldson was kind of a maniac out to get answers. And more often than others, he got them.

51 Responses to Obama Undermines DOJ Probe of IRS Targeting

  1. You are spot on about Obama setting the tone for the IRS probe. But I disagree with you about giving Obama credit for submitting to an interview with O’Reilly. It was a set up. Obama intentionally and purposefully used the interview as an opportunity to repeatedly blame all of those “phony scandals” on Fox News, and even O’Reilly himself. If I were O’Reilly, I would be insulted. Obama was the blowhard in this case.

    • I know I have no grounds to speak since I won’t watch or listen to either of them, but perhaps Obama was given enough rope to come across poorly?

    • I agree.
      If I was interviewing the POTUS and he insulted me to my face on camera, I would look into the camera and say, I am not going to waste anymore of my time with this fool, take the mike off and walk out.

    • I am so fed up with people picking on Fox News. The news stations did not let up with Bush. O is a grown man, and is whining about the Free Press.

  2. I don’t think O’Reilly has been tough on Obama in the past, but accounts of yesterday’s interview seem a big improvement. O’Reilly is probably the only wedge FOX can get in there: Obama is certainly not going to submit to Hannity. And by your account and others here, Obama seems to have come across very wiggly and slippery like the worm that he is.

  3. You can’t interview Obama in 10 minutes !
    I think that O’Reilly is pompous and overbearing but trying to pin the POTUS in 10 minutes, even when he stops him and indicates that he is not answering the question, the arrogant one tells O’Reilly essentially to shut up and let him talk.
    I can’t stand either one of them.

  4. I find a lot of “signals” in Obamaspeak. As a fan of the Godfather movies, I often wonder if John Roberts woke up with a horse’s head?

    And like the Godfather, Obama rewards loyalty, nobody loses their job.

  5. Watched if for the first time. Obama is incorrigible – that unartful dodger.
    He dismissed the IRS scandal by saying hearings were held but no mention of Lois Lerner taking the Fifth.

    O’Reilly did a fair enough job considering that he only had 10 lousy minutes, but he didn’t ask THE question: Where were you on the night of the Benghazi attack and why did you feel it was not necessary to check in with your deputies during the attack? A follow-up question on the Pakistani PSA video would have put him on the spot, also.

    Obama’s shifty-eyed demeanor is visceral – he make me sick!

  6. BTW, I found it amusing that the President who wouldn’t allow this mythical son of his to play football nevertheless had to tap into the Super Bowl audience with his interview with O’Reilly right before the game and also by tweeting (again) that photo op of himself alone throwing a football in Soldier Field.

  7. The only crime the DOJ or FBI can investigate is a conspiracy to slow-jam, delay, or impeded the implementation of the tax-free status of conservative groups. To our knowlege, no conservative group was actually denied by the IRS.
    Proving a conspiracy when the main conspirators have either taken the 5th or can’t remember anything is very difficult. There has to be a motive, a common benefit or result to prove a crime.
    The IRS’s actions didn’t prevent any of the conservative groups from doing anything they chose in the political arena, all they did was prevent them from gathering tax-free monies.

    Every group that relies on donations for their actions knows how to make themselves tax-free with creative accounting and a full list of expenses. Nothing prevented these groups from doing just that.

    This isn’t a defense of what the IRS did or tried to do to silence the conservative groups, but it is telling that these groups didn’t want to move forward until they got the OK from the IRS.

    • Gotta disagree with you here, srdem. Many of these groups are caught in a catch 22 situation. After more than 2 years, many of the conservative groups still haven’t received approval of their application for 501(c)(4) status, yet the IRS penalties and taxes keep mounting during the process. Yes, these groups could move forward while waiting for approval from the leviathan, but it comes at a very high price. A price that is usually more costly than most of these small grass-roots organizations can afford.

      • I could be totally wrong, but I think the difference is between a c3 and a c4. Both are non profit and exempt from federal tax. A c3 can appeal to issues related legislation but their contributions are tax deductible. This is the status I think most of the conservative groups file for. A c4 can lobby unlimited but their contributions are not tax deductible. There is a lot of gray for the IRS and DOJ to play in.

        Here is a pretty simple of the difference as I understand it. I am sure there is more and better.

        • I don’t know the ins and outs of the tax code, but most of the conservative groups who are being held in limbo have applied for 501(c)(4) status. That is the same status OFA has been operating under since they changed their name from Obama for America to Organizing for America.