Yesterday, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer defended President Obama’s statement that he knew nothing about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups until he learned about it through the media. “No president would get involved in an independent IRS investigation,” Pfeiffer said. “It would be wholly inappropriate.”
While that claim hardly vindicates the president — it demonstrates at best that he is clueless about his own administration’s actions — it may well be a falsehood. According to The Wall Street Journal, the White House’s chief counsel learned the preliminary results of the probe into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups weeks ago, long before the story broke in the media.
A senior White House official confirmed that Treasury Department staffers told White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler of the ethical breach the week of April 22. Politico quotes an unidentified senior White House official as affirming:
Staff of the [White House counsel’s office] were informed that the Inspector General for Tax Administration was completing a report finding that line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain 501(c)(4) organizations by using words like ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot.’ Staff were further informed that the report had not been finalized, and the publication date of the report was uncertain but likely soon.
On Sunday, the White House declined media requests to make Ruemmler available for comment, which adds to the already growing sense of an administration circling the wagons in the face of multiple brewing scandals.