White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One on Monday that the White House counsel’s office was briefed last month on the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.
Carney said the IRS inspector general notified the White House counsel’s office during the week of April 22 that it was completing a review of the IRS office in Cincinnati that targeted conservative political groups for special examination.
Well, wait a minute: Didn’t President Obama say he was unaware until last Friday of the scandal?
Remember, the president said during Monday’s joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron [emphasis added]: “I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this. I think it was on Friday.”
Huh. The White House was notified in April, but the president only found out last week.
“If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous. And there’s no place for it,” the president continued.
“And they have to be held fully accountable. Because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity, and people have to have confidence that they’re … applying the laws in a nonpartisan way,” he added.
However, although it seems odd that the White House counsel’s office was notified of the scandal in April and the president apparently just learned about it, Carney was careful to tell reporters that the counsel’s office was not given details about the review.
In fact, Carney specifically stated that President Barack Obama was not told about the review, and he reiterated Obama’s assertion Monday that he did not learn such groups had been targeted until news reports broke Friday.
So it’s entirely possible that the President of the United States really had no idea what was going on.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.