Carney: White House aides insulated Obama from IRS scandal

by
May 21, 2013

The White House admitted Monday that more officials — including top aides — knew about IRS abuses in targeting conservative groups than the administration had previously acknowledged.

White House aides first learned of a draft report detailing the IRS abuses in late April, but chose to insulate President Obama by not informing him until it exploded in the press, the president’s spokesman said Monday.

Both the president and White House press secretary Jay Carney had said they first learned of the IRS scandal from news reports on May 10.

But Mr. Carney told reporters Monday that White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler learned about the IRS inspector general’s draft report on April 24. She advised senior White House staff, including chief of staff Denis McDonough. According to Mr. Carney, she said she believed that Mr. Obama shouldn’t be told — and staffers followed that advice.

“To be clear, we knew the subject of the investigation and we knew of the nature of some of the potential findings, but we did not have a copy of the draft report,” he said. “We did not know the details, the scope or the motivation surrounding the misconduct, and we did not know who was responsible.”

In a contentious news conference Monday afternoon, Mr. Carney tried to characterize White House aides’ failure to inform the president of a major upcoming controversy as routine and appropriate, arguing that the White House is usually informed about inspectors-general drafts shortly before they become final and are published, and cautioned that details of the reports and their findings can often change.

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