IRS Scandal: Obama Must Get a Handle On It to Save His Reputation
Dear President Obama,
C’mon son! You are making it extremely difficult to stay in your corner. Every time your team takes one step forward in the scandal pit, you take two steps back. The latest news is that your White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler told top staffers, including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, of the pending IRS inspector general audit after she was informed on April 24. Your press secretary Jay Carney dropped this tidbit after one of your senior advisers Dan Pfeiffer clumsily defended the White House all weekend on the Sunday talk shows. Pfeiffer’s title is assistant to the president of the United States and senior adviser to the president for strategy and communications. That makes him a senior member of the executive office. Did you hear what he offered up? Pfeiffer actually said when it comes to this IRS investigation, “law is irrelevant.” Attorney General Eric Holder has just announced an FBI investigation to determine if there are criminal violations and your senior adviser for strategy and communication says the law is irrelevant. What is going on? Are these people new? Is this their first time at the big boy’s table?
Carney didn’t do any better. At the Monday White House press briefings he said he was not among the top staffers informed by Ruemmler and didn’t know who the others were. This is your communication team? C’mon, son. I’m one of your staunchest supporters and even I don’t believe it anymore.
I gave you a pass when it came out that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was “briefed” back in March that an inspector general was investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, but didn’t “know the details.” Lew said not only didn’t he know about it, but his deputy didn’t know about it either. This is despite the fact that it had been posted on the IG website since last fall and despite the fact that Politico reported the “Treasury inspector general for tax administration also sent a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in July 2012 saying it would audit the agency.” C’mon, son. Are you expecting us to believe that your nemesis, Darrell Issa, the chairman of the most powerful committee in the House, is aware of a potentially damaging and administration shattering investigation going on of the IRS but no one at the Executive level was aware of the details? C’mon, son!
I was all set to give you the benefit of the doubt. The government is huge and I don’t expect the CEO of the largest economy and most complex business in the world to be aware of what’s going on with some department 5-6 levels away from your office, however when it turns out your counsel, chief of staff, and department executive are all aware that something’s going on, it may behoove you to ask why didn’t somebody tell you.
Now it turns out that not only are the principle parties involved in this fiasco unable to perform their duties they can’t even seem to get their lies straight. It turns out that Lois Lerner set up the supposed apology she made that revealed this scam to the national audience. US News and World Report informs us that Lerner planted the question with Celia Roady, a prominent tax lawyer in the firm of Morgan Lewis. Roady said, “I received a call from Lois Lerner, who told me that she wanted to address an issue after her prepared remarks at the [American Bar Association] Tax Section's Exempt Organizations Committee Meeting, and asked if I would pose a question to her after her remarks I agreed to do so, and she then gave me the question that I asked at the meeting the next day.” Are you kidding me?
And just in case you haven’t gotten enough gruff you appointed Sarah Hall Ingram who served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012 (the period under investigation) to be in charge of implementing the IRS portion of Obamacare. What are you trying to make it difficult?
Now I’m happy that you moved to terminate Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. I know that his term was expiring anyway but at this point he is the only one you have the authority to fire and let’s face it he was a disaster during his appearance at the Congressional hearing. Did you hear how he described the targeting of conservative groups? He called it “poor customer service.” You think?
I am also pleased to see that Joseph Grant, the current commissioner of the agency's tax exempt and government entities division has decided to take one for the team and retire on June 3. The only person left is Lerner. She has got to go. You are aware by now that the Washington Post has given Lerner four Pinocchios for the testimony she gave to a House committee last week. If you want to retain my support on this issue please find a way to terminate her as soon as possible.
Mr. President the people you have surrounding you are not doing you any favors with the American people. They remind me of the great scene from The Godfather II.
Senator Pat Geary: Mr. Cici, was there always a buffer involved?
Willi Cici: A what?
Senator Pat Geary: A buffer. Someone in between you and your possible superiors who passed on to you the actual order to kill someone.
Willi Cici: Oh yeah, a buffer. The family had a lot of buffers!
President Obama, I still have faith in your ability to turn this ship around. But you have got to get rid of the buffers. How thick is the layer of plausible deniability surrounding you? Talk about a bubble. You need to tell whoever is protecting you that the next time a scandal breaks their head is going to roll. Show that you are not just a figurehead riding the crest of leadership. Show that you have more than referent power. Show some respect for the office of the presidency. Show that you are in charge. Show that you have some cojones. Don’t get mad at the people who expose your flaws and scandals get mad at the people who aren’t doing their job after all, they do work for you.
P.S. I understand that there is another press scandal breaking. Supposedly the department of justice obtained a warrant to gain access to the email of James Rosen. Rosen is chief Washington correspondent for Fox News. The warrant was part of an investigation into security leaks of classified information on North Korea back in 2009. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser who supposedly leaked the information is being charged with espionage. This new incident comes on the heels of the Department of Justice being taken to task for obtaining the phone records of reporters from the Associated Press. That investigation shows that the records obtained were broader than originally reported.