Senior W.H. staff knew of IRS investigation, did not tell Obama
By JENNIFER EPSTEIN |
5/20/13 2:35 PM EDT
Senior White House staff knew of the ongoing investigation into the IRS's targeting of conservative groups ahead of the release of a report from a Treasury Department inspector general, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday, but held off on informing the president to wait for a final report.
With the knowledge of an investigation, the White House held to a "cardinal rule" that it should not get involved in an external investigation, Carney said during his daily briefing. "No one in this building intervened in an ongoing independent investigation or did anything that could be seen as intervening," he said.
"To the chagrin of some who would have liked us to get more in front of this, we appropriately waited," Carney later added.
White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler was informed of the IG's audit on April 24, Carney said, and was told that the audit was nearing its conclusion and that a report would be forthcoming indicating that several IRS employees were involved in targeting groups with "tea party" and "patriot" in their names for additional scrutiny.
Carney was more vague last week, telling reporters that Ruemmler's office was informed of the existence of an investigation during the week of April 22, but informed of little more. On Monday, he said that some staff in the counsel's office were told of the report -- and others nearing completion -- a week earlier, on April 16.
Ruemmler did inform White House chief of staff Denis McDonough's office of the investigation, Carney said, and other senior staff were also told of the report. Carney wouldn't say who those other staffers were, but did say there were communications between White House staff and Treasury Department staff ahead of the first news reports of the IRS investigation, which emerged 10 days ago.
Though senior staff knew of the probe, Carney said Ruemmler concluded that the investigation was "not a matter she should convey to the president" until the report was finalized.