The Elusive Jeffrey ZIents

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jul 23, 2013 1:24 PM
The Elusive Jeffrey ZIents
Yesterday, the Daily Caller's Patrick Howley reported that former IRS commissioner Doug Shulman and two other IRS officials met with Jeffrey Zients -- former interim head of Obama's OMB -- for eight-and-a-half hours (at the Eisenhower Office Building inside the White House complex) the day before criteria targeting Tea Parties and other conservatives were revised on 4/25/12. 

The above is definitely worthy of comment and seems suspicious -- but keep in mind that it may be a distraction.  Here's why: William J. Wilkins -- whom I've reported on before as "the President's man at the IRS" -- met with the President at The White House just the day before (4/23/12). On 4/22/12, Doug Shulman met with Obama.

Wilkins, the administration's tentacles into the IRS, would be the most likely conduit for information about the targeting to have come into and out of The White House.  In contrast, as interim head of OMB, Zients (though a combative liberal himself) would have been far more likely to have been meeting with IRS officials about the implementation and costs of ObamaCare (the very alibi the administration and the IRS have purveyed for the many, many visits of Doug Shulman and his top political aide to The White House).

Remember the Sherlock Holmes story where the key to the mystery was the "curious incident of the dog in the night-time"? The idea is that what doesn't happen can offer the key to what did.  The Zients meeting on 4/24 suggests that there were, indeed, high-level meetings with the IRS about the costs and implementation of ObamaCare -- but those definitely seem to have been at the sub-presidential level (e.g., at the Eisenhower building rather than West Wing).  That fact throws into sharp relief the presidential meetings with Shulman and Wilkins in the days before that meeting.

Surely the President wasn't prepping Shulman for his meeting with Zients; generally, everyone meetings to discuss policy before meeting with the President, not after.  And if Wilkins was central to the ObamaCare/IRS nexus (so as to have needed to be at The White House to discuss it with the President!), why wouldn't he have been at the meeting with OMB's Zients?

Interestingly, Howley reports today that Zients has been out of the country since shortly before the IRS targeting scandal broke.  How convenient.  Could it be that Zients is perfectly positioned to offer some damning testimony about which White House meetings were legitimate policy discussions and which dealt with other, less savory matters?