If you believe the Washington Post’s account, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler first learned of the IRS abuse scandal in April 2013. According to the Post, Ruemmler shared the information with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and others, while intentionally keeping President Obama in the dark until the report actually hit the streets. According to this version of events, Lois Lerner’s planted question that introduced the scandal upset a “careful plan” within the White House to manage the scandal.
Right. That’s what the Post says — “careful plan.” Whose, and what was the plan?
The episode also offers a glimpse into the workings of Obama’s insular West Wing, which has struggled to cope in recent weeks with the IRS scandal, the continued fallout from last year’s deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, and the Justice Department’s tracking of journalists as part of leak investigations.
But Ruemmler and McDonough’s careful plan for the IRS was upended on May 10, when Lois Lerner, a senior official at the agency, broke the news by admitting that the IRS had given extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Senior White House officials were stunned to see the IRS trying to get ahead of its own story — and in doing so, creating a monstrous communications disaster for an administration that appeared not to know what its agencies were up to.
That doesn’t square very well with the fact that Deputy Chief of Staff Mark Childress had already worked with the IRS to roll the scandal out. Unless, that is, Lerner and fake-fired acting commissioner Steven Miller went rogue on May 10 and ran the planted question scam on their own. And Childress was also acting on his own. He still has his job, as does Lois “I plead the Fifth” Lerner. Miller was “fired” in a head fake that involves President Obama himself, as he was the one who conducted the fake firing in front of the entire nation.
But other evidence squares even less well with the White House’s current narrative.
During testimony on the scandal in the House Wednesday, it was revealed that then IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman had visited the Obama White House 118 times. That’s a staggering number, amounting to one visit a week, more or less. Shulman allowed two reasons for those visits — Easter Egg rolls, and discussing the implementation of ObamaCare. Eliminating the Easter Egg rolls leaves us with about 115 meetings if you count 2013. Did any of those meetings include discussion of the “careful plan” or his own agency’s rampant abuse of taxpayers, about which he claims he did not know?
He also claimed in 2012 that there was “absolutely” no targeting. That absolute statement has absolutely fallen apart against hard facts.
The traffic was not one-way. Shulman got his frequent visitor card punched at the White House while White House counsel, it turns out, was frequently visiting the Treasury Department’s chief counsel in late 2012. According to the Daily Caller:
Christopher J. Meade, Treasury Chief Counsel, met with Ruemmler on September 27th, December 11th, and December 13th, 2012, according to White House Visitor Records requests. The two had never met one-on-one prior to these meetings.
Meade was one of the first members of President Barack Obama’s administration to find out about the IRS investigation in June 2012, when he became the Treasury Department’s acting general counsel.
The two also met with fifteen other people on July 2nd, 2012 and with fifteen other people on July 17th.