Obama's Chief Lawyer Knew About IRS Targeting Weeks Ago

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: May 20, 2013 7:35 AM

The IRS scandal keeps getting closer and closer to the top of the White House food chain as Obama officials desperately try to spin their way out of mounting evidence and foul play. The Wall Street Journal is reporting President Obama's top attorney knew about the IRS targeting weeks ago before news broke, but of course, Obama still didn't know about it until he learned about it "from the news."

The White House's chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.

That disclosure has prompted a debate over whether the president should have been notified at that time.

In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general's report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that "a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like 'tea party' and 'patriot,' " the official said.

President Barack Obama said last week he learned about the controversy at the same time as the public, on May 10, when an IRS official revealed it to a conference of lawyers.

The main question since this whole thing broke on May 10th is whether President Obama ordered the targeting, knew of  targeting, or encouraged the targeting through his statements. Did this thing come from the top? Kim Strassel says of course it did. 

Was the White House involved in the IRS's targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.

President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an "independent" agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.

But that's not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.

Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. "He put a target on our backs, and he's now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?" asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.