Flash: Obama Carefully Issues Non-Denial Denial in IRS Scandal (Updated)
May 16, 2013 - 10:10 am
President Obama answered a press question about the IRS scandal by denying that he knew anything about the IG report until it started turning up in press reports. Spokesman Jay Carney has said the same thing.
This is not a denial that the president knew that the abuse was going on. He merely denied knowing about the IG report. But when chopped down to a soundbite for news reports and newscasts, it may come off as the president denying all knowledge of the IRS’s abuses.
He did not issue such a denial.
Update: Here is the president’s exact answer. Juliana Goldman of Bloomberg asks him:
Mr. President, I want to ask you about the IRS. 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? And when they did find out, do you think that you should have learned about it before you learned about it from news reports, as you said last Friday?
She also asked about appointing a special counsel to investigate it.
The president answered, first saying that
My main concern is fixing a problem, and we began that process yesterday by asking and accepting the resignation of the acting director there.
As we now know, that resignation was less than he made out. Miller was on his way out anyway. The president went on to say:
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.
That wasn’t the question. The question was, when did he learn about the IRS abuse itself?
The safest way to bet after that answer is that Obama and/or someone in the White House did know. It’s also safer now to assume that there was some level of involvement.