News & Politics

Five Times The Obama Administration Investigated Itself

President Barack Obama laughs with aides aboard Air Force One en route to Singapore, Nov. 14, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Last week, Twitter declared that their own study of tweets by Democrats and Republicans last year proved there was no anti-conservative bias on their social media platform. It was amusing to see how the folks at Twitter considered this definitive proof that they don’t hold a bias against conservatives. It reminded me of how many times the Obama administration attempted to control the narrative of their own scandals by investigating themselves and then clearing themselves of wrongdoing, with the expectation that the matter would be settled. Here are five examples of times the Obama administration investigated itself in the hopes of burying a scandal.

5. The Senate seat for sale scandal

Few people seem to remember that even before Obama took office his presidential transition was under a cloud of scandal. Just over a month before he was to take office, Obama was implicated in a scandal involving his soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had hoped to get a cabinet position or ambassadorship in exchange for appointing an Obama-backed individual to replace him in the Senate. Obama’s top choice had been Valerie Jarrett, and he offered to appoint Jarrett “in exchange for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President-elect’s cabinet,” but she eventually opted to follow Obama to the White House as his top advisor.

To get to the bottom of the scandal, the Obama transition conducted an internal investigation to determine whether the president-elect had done anything illegal. Spoiler alert: their investigation “cleared” Barack Obama. The internal review’s findings, they claimed, “affirmed the public statements of the president-elect that he had no contact with the governor or his staff, and that the president-elect’s staff was not involved in inappropriate discussions with the governor or his staff over the selection of his successor as U.S. senator.” It’s a cute story… and completely contradicts both the criminal complaint against Blagojevich and numerous documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Did anyone really believe that the Obama transition team was going to do anything but clear Obama of illegally trying to sell his Senate seat? Obama was about to enter the White House with Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, so their bogus investigation of Obama’s role in this scandal was effectively swept under the rug.

4. The “accidental” outing of a CIA spy in Afghanistan

In 2014, when Barack Obama made a surprise Memorial Day weekend trip to Afghanistan, the Obama administration “accidentally” revealed the name of a CIA official serving in Afghanistan in an email sent to the White House press pool—a list of as many as 6,000 journalists. The intentional disclosing of the name of an undercover operative is a federal crime, and people have been tried and sentenced to prison for it. You can probably guess what happened as the result of the probe… nothing! No one was held accountable for the releasing of the name. Not a single person was disciplined or fired, but Obama White House Counsel Neil Eggleston instead recommended changes to administration protocol while the president is traveling abroad.

3. The Secret Service prostitution scandal

In 2012, members of the Secret Service were caught up in a prostitution scandal during Obama’s visit to Columbia. A member of the White House advance team was reportedly also caught up in the scandal, and the White House responded with an internal White House investigation into the matter… which predictably found that no White House staffers were involved in the scandal. Except evidence emerged that a White House staff member may have been involved and the White House tried to cover that up. Remember when Obama promised his White House would be the most transparent in history? Covering up a staffers’ involvement in a prostitution scandal doesn’t exactly say “transparency” does it?

2. The Benghazi attack cover-up

The terror attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, less than two months before the 2012 president election threatened the Obama administration narrative that they’d been crippling al Qaeda and making progress in the War on Terror. Congress rightfully investigated, and as I’ve previously noted, the Obama administration obstructed their investigations. The Obama administration partially justified their obstruction because they’d launched their own internal investigation, and so they refused to allow State Department employees to testify before Congress. “We think that we’ve done an independent investigation, that it’s been transparent, thorough, credible, and detailed, and that we’ve shared those findings with the U.S. Congress,” said Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman. “And that should be enough.” Given the Obama administration’s record of clearing itself every time it investigated itself one doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out what was really going on. Their internal probe found “systemic failures and leadership deficiencies at senior levels,” and four State Department officials were “relieved from their duties” as a result, but all were later cleared by Secretary of State John Kerry. Big shock, right?

1. The IRS scandal

The weaponizing of the IRS against Obama’s political enemies is a serious thing. Obama himself claimed, “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.” Though it’s clear that this targetting actually happened (the Obama administration didn’t even attempt to deny that improper targeting occurred) Obama vowed to find out “exactly what happened” and vowed that anyone guilty of wrongdoing would be held “fully accountable.” It was obviously an empty promise.  The Obama administration launched their own investigation into the scandal and Attorney General Eric Holder appointed DOJ lawyer Barbara Bosserman to run that investigation as they stonewalled investigations run by Congress. What made Bosserman the ideal person to run this investigation? Was it her stellar reputation for independence? Nope, it was her status as a donor to Obama’s campaigns and the DNC that made her Holder’s ideal investigator. It should not be shocking that within a few short days of Bosserman’s appointment, the FBI announced it was not planning to file any criminal charges connected to the IRS scandal. Imagine that!


Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis.