The Obama administration's Hans Schultz strategy is wearing thin. The "I Know Nothing" approach to these scandals has only exacerbated the problem. So, concerning the IRS, what did the president know, and when did he know it? Yes, it's a throwback to Sen. Howard Baker's famous question during Watergate, which Rick Moran cited in his May 17 post. We don't know yet, but it seems White House Chief of Staff Steve McDonough knew about the targeting last month.
CNN's Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen reported yesterday that:
In a new timeline provided by Carney to reporters on Monday, General Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler learned on April 24 of a pending Treasury inspector general's report on how IRS staff used criteria targeting conservative groups in assessing eligibility for tax-exempt status. According to Carney, Ruemmler told McDonough as well as other Treasury officials about the pending report. It was the first time the White House acknowledged that McDonough was aware of the report before it became public in early May. In addition, Carney made clear that the information Ruemmler received on April 24 included details of improper acts by IRS officials.
At the same time, Carney emphasized that the information was preliminary and could have changed before the inspector general released his final report on May 14. Carney insisted no one -- including Ruemmler and McDonough -- told President Barack Obama anything about the inspector general's pending report before media reports about it began appearing on May 10.
"We knew the subject of the investigation and we knew the nature of some of the potential findings, but we did not have a copy of the draft report," Carney said. "We did not know the details, the scope, or the motivation surrounding the misconduct and we did not know who was responsible. Most importantly, the report was not final and still very much subject to change."
n addition, Carney said, the misconduct had stopped in May 2012, almost a year before Ruemmler or anyone else at the White House were told of it by anyone at Treasury.
At the same time, Carney disclosed that White House and Treasury officials discussed the pending inspector general's report in the weeks before its formal release, even though he said no one told Obama about it.
We understand that not knowing all the details isn't a minor thing, but shouldn't the president have been given a "heads up" about this development? After all, protecting the president's agenda – and filtering the endless streams of information – is one of the many responsibilities delegated to the White House Chief of Staff. You would think a scandalous story of this nature would be at the top of list of things to tell the president since the fallout from a story like this could bring his agenda to a screeching halt, which has happened – with 1/3 of all House committees investigating the Obama administration. As Allahpundit at Hot Air wrote in his May 21 post:
So Ruemmler did think this was worthy of the president’s attention — but McDonough and other senior staff didn’t. Why not? What possible alternative conclusion is there except that, if they didn’t tell him, they withheld the info deliberately to shield him from culpability as much as possible? And if that was their M.O. here, why shouldn’t we assume it’s their M.O. generally? “Intentional ignorance — that’s the Hopenchange way.”
So, when’s McDonough getting fired?