The White House on Monday doubled down on President Barack Obama’s assertion Sunday that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” behind the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked, referring to Obama’s pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, asked, “Did the president misspeak?
“No he didn’t,” Carney said promptly.
“I can cite about 20 different news organizations that cite the variety ways that was established, including by an independent [inspector general], who testified in May and as his report said, he found no evidence that anyone outside the IRS had any involvement in targeting conservative or progressive groups in their application for tax exempt status,” Carney said.
The Justice Department is still conducting an investigation into the matter run by department attorney Barbara Bosserman, who contributed almost $7,000 to Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
The report Carney referred to, by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, was released last year after an admission from the agency that conservative groups were targeted. The inspector general report found the IRS exempt organizations unit flagged organizations with the terms “Tea Party,” “patriot” or “9/12” that applied for tax-exempt status on its “Be On the Lookout” or BOLO list.
Karl asked, “Isn’t there an active Justice Department investigation in this matter?”
Carney avoided the question, referring him to the Justice Department.
“I think every look at this, every investigation into this an every thing we’ve learned about this, this is not something that in anyway reached outside of the IRS. There’s been a concerted attempt,” Carney said.
Karl followed: “He said there is ‘not a smidgen of corruption.’ He didn’t qualify inside or outside the IRS. There is an active Justice Department investigation. Unless it has been concluded without anyone telling the news media. Does the president pre-judge that investigation?
Carney responded: “What we’ve learned from an independent inspector general and through the testimony we’ve seen, completely backs up what the president said. A lot of that has been reported on by what you and your colleagues and your news organizations over the course of the last several months. Some people must have missed those reports.”
Karl asked whether the Justice Department should “pull the plug,” after which Carney replied that the White House does “not interfere with Justice Department investigations.”