Republicans floundering in effort to tie Obama directly to IRS scandal
Greg Sargent NAILS IT:
Republicans are working overtime to connect the IRS scandal to President Obama. Theoretically, this task should be made more difficult by the lack of evidence of any such connection. In practice, it’s not dissuading Republicans in the slightest from drawing that link. John Boehner [above] claims it is “inconceivable” that Obama didn’t know about the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
In that context, don’t miss today’s big Post piece documenting the behind-the-scene moves by the Obama administration as it dealt with the news of the impending inspector general’s audit. The piece reports that White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, having learned of the pending audit’s damaging details, shared the news with chief of staff Denis McDonough and other White House aides. They all decided not to tell the president about the audit until it was completed and publicly released, “in part to protect him from even the appearance of trying to influence an investigation.” And it turns out that this is exactly what they should have done…
All of this is painfully obvious, and yet normally savvy Beltway observers continue to pretend not to know it. Instead, the general thrust of the coverage has been to seize on every little micro-revelation about the timing of when the White House found out about the IG report to build a vague narrative about the White House being “on the defensive.” Once that narrative has been established, there is no longer any need to level with readers about the actual significance of each new revelation.
To be clear: Maybe the White House is mishandling the “optics” of the IRS story, and maybe it could have been clearer about the various timelines. Those are obviously legit topics. But they shouldn’t preclude genuine efforts to sort out exactly how meaningful each little detail of timing really is. Also: One can demand an end to the hyping of trivial details of timing while also demanding a full accounting of what actually happened with the targeting of conservatives, as well as accountability for any wrongdoers, both of which we absolutely must have. We can keep both those ideas in our heads at the same time.