President Barack Obama on Thursday ducked a question about whether he or anyone at the White House had known about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.
Instead, Obama said he hadn’t known anything in advance about an agency report on the matter — a question that was never posed to him.
Obama was specifically asked, according to a White House transcript, “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?”
He responded: “…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.”
Obama spoke during a joint press conference with the Turkish prime minister in the White House Rose Garden.
White House press secretary Jay Carney this week denied that anyone at the White House knew of the IRS’ actions before the report came to light.
“I am certainly not aware of and am confident that no one here was involved in this. We found out about it just a few weeks ago, and only — and when I say ‘we,’ I didn’t, the president didn’t, but the White House counsel’s office only found out about the review being conducted and coming to a conclusion by the inspector general,” Carney told reporters.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to more accurately characterize Obama’s remarks.
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