President Obama has just wrapped up a statement from the East Room of the White House about the IRS scandal. He promised to hold responsible parties accountable and has handed over disciplinary duties to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Obama announced IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller, who knew about IRS targeting in 2011, has resigned after being asked to do so.
The statement from Obama as delivered:
"I've reviewed the Treasury Department's watchdog report and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. It's inexcusable and Americans have a right to be angry about it and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency but especially in the IRS given the power that it has and the reach that it has in all of our lives. And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you're from, the fact of the matter is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity. The government general has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust, that's especially true for the IRS. So here's what we're going to do. First, we're going to hold the responsible parties accountable. Yesterday I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who was responsible and to make sure that we understand all of the facts. Today Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward. Second, we're going to put in place safe guards to make sure this kind of behavior can't happen again and I have directed Secretary Lew to make sure the IRS implements the IG's recommendations right away. Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight roll and our administration has to make sure that we are working hand-in-hand with Congress to get this thing fixed. Congress, Democrats and Republicans owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn't smack of politics or partisan agendas because I think one thing you've seen across the board is that everybody agrees what happened in as reported in the IG report is an outrage. The good news is it's fixable and it's in everybody's best interest to fix it. I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this ever happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and new safe guards and going forward by making sure the law is applied as it should be in a fair and impartial way and we're going to have to make sure the laws are clear so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way and that there isn't too much ambiguity when it comes to these laws. That's what I expect, that's what the American people deserve and that's what we're going to do.
UPDATE: Speaking on Fox News, columnist Charles Krauthammer said, "That was the absolute minimum he should have done."
President Obama will take questions at a press conference tomorrow.
UPDATE II: A few take aways.
1) President Obama apparently couldn't bring himself to say "I'm sorry this happened on my watch."
2) Obama was sure to get in a jab at Congress and their "partisan bickering" even though both Democrats and Republicans, including Harry Reid, have already expressed outrage over IRS targeting of conservative groups
3) He's going to "hold people accountable?" Really? We heard the same thing after Benghazi. Today, he wouldn't even say the name of the Acting IRS commissioner in his statement. His name is Steven Miller. Obama's statement should have been something along the lines of, "I am calling on IRS workers (insert name and title here) to resign immediately." Instead, he's passed that off to Jack Lew.
4) We already have laws that are supposed to be applied in a fair way, that's why they are called laws. In America, everyone is equal under the law. We don't need more laws on top of laws that already have a 5 year penalty for using the IRS to target people for political reasons. Not to mention, considering this Administration picks and chooses which laws it wants to enforce, Obama's promise to use everything in his power to make "sure the law is applied as it should be in a fair and impartial way," falls flat.