White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Monday that President Barack Obama is “concerned” that a “small number of Internal Revenue Service employees may have” inappropriately singled out conservative groups for further review during the 2012 election and that he expects “appropriate steps” will be taken should an independent review find that rules were broken.
“The President believes that the American people expect and deserve to have the very best public servants with the highest levels of integrity working in government agencies on their behalf,” he said. “Based on recent media reports, he is concerned that the conduct of a small number of Internal Revenue Service employees may have fallen short of that standard. We understand that the matter is currently under review by the Inspector General. If the Inspector General finds that there were any rules broken or that conduct of government officials did not meet the standards required of them, the President expects that swift and appropriate steps will be taken to address any misconduct.”
There are a couple of things important to note here…
1.) The conduct of a “small number” of IRS employees? This isn’t about some low-level desk jockeys. As CBS has reported, this scandal went all the way to the top:
According to a timline obtained by CBS News, the IRS began singling out tea party groups in the spring of 2010. Though the agency insisted Friday no high-level employees were aware of the targeting, a draft which surfaced over the weekend of an inspector general’s report due to be released this week revealed that Lois Lerner — an IRS official in charge of oversight of tax-exempt groups — knew about it as early as June 2011.
Lerner allegedly became aware of the targeting during a meeting two summers ago — 10 months before penning an April 2012 letter to House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., assuring him the rigorous scrutiny some conservative groups had complained about was “in the ordinary course of the application process” for nonprofit groups seeking tax exemption.
One month earlier, in March 2012, then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional panel: “There’s absolutely no targeting.”
2.) It’s also interesting to note how Carney lays the president’s interest in this scandal on “media reports” instead of knowing what’s going on in his own administration. In other words, the president knows as much about this scandal as anyone who watches the nightly news? Really?
Just as was the case with Benghazi, the team surrounding the president is working over-time to insulate him from the responsibilities of his own office and the basic level of accountability that comes with it.