The PJ Tatler

Did the White House Help Plan and Plant the Question that Kicked off the IRS Abuse Scandal?

Earlier today, fake-fired acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller admitted that planting the question that sparked the IRS abuse scandal was his idea. But was it his idea alone?

During today’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney allowed that the White House was consulted about how to inform the public that the abuse had been going on.

Carney also said that White House deputy chief of staff Mark Childress spoke with Treasury Department officials about how to best reveal the IRS’s targeting, including a “discussion about the possibility of a speech.” The targeting was instead revealed when Lois Lerner responded to a planted question about the targeting at a conference earlier this month.

So, to unpack this a bit, the White House deputy chief of staff was informed of and involved in managing the abuse to the level of working with Treasury officials about how to let the public know. Rather than come up with an honest and straightforward way of communicating it, the IRS planted a question in an obscure conference call on a Friday that would elicit a very incomplete apology, a few days before the IG report was expected to hit.

Are we supposed to expect that Childress was acting alone? He’s the deputy White House chief of staff, his boss is chief of staff Denis McDonough. We learned on Monday that McDonough and the White House counsel learned of the IRS abuse in April at the latest. Did he not know — did he order — Childress to work with IRS to manage the planted question? What did McDonough know about the planted question? Was the White House counsel involved in planting the question? What did Obama know about any of this?

The White House’s story has changed about five times since the scandal broke. There’s no reason to take their word on anything.