by Meredith Dake 31 May 2013, 2:00 AM PDT
White House Deputy Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One on Thursday that the President doesn't see a need for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the questionable targeting practices of the IRS. The spokesman argued that the incoming IRS commissioner will be an "independent" observer in his initial 30 day review of the agency.
Earnest was asked about a new Quinnipiac poll stating 76 percent of Americans would like to see a special prosecutor investigate the alleged targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. Earnest was asked if the President is "looking at that option at all." "We're not," the Deputy Spokesman replied.
The White House Spokesman explained the incoming IRS commissioner, Danny Werfel, is an "outside" observer who will conduct and "independent" 30-day review as directed by the Treasury Secretary. "So I would actually make the case to you that we have a wide variety of outside, impartial, independent observers -- all of whom share the goal of getting to the bottom of what happened and making sure it didn't happen -- it doesn't happen again." Earnest concluded.
Read the transcript of the exchange below:
Q On the IRS -- there's a Quinnipiac poll out today saying that 76 percent of Americans would like to see a special prosecutor appointed to look into that, and I'm wondering if the President or the White House is looking at that option at all.
MR. EARNEST: We're not. And the reason for that simply is that there is a new IRS commissioner in place, Danny Werfel, who is a career civil servant, who represented -- who served in administrations led by Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents. He's conducting a 30-day review -- that was a review that was ordered by the Secretary of the Treasury at the direction of the President. That is an ongoing review that is taking place.
Our administration has already signaled our willingness to cooperate with congressional oversight in this matter. I know that there are a couple of administration officials that have already testified on this, and there are -- our cooperation in this endeavor is ongoing. And I also understand, separately from all that, that the Department of Justice has announced a criminal investigation into this matter.
So there are a lot of people looking at this from a lot of different perspectives. And we're confident that those who need to be held accountable for the wrongdoing that occurred there will be held accountable. And the President is committed to making sure that those steps are taken to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Q So there's not any interest in an outside, independent -- completely independent person to look at it?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I would actually make the case to you that there are -- we do have somebody who is coming from the outside, who is a career civil servant who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, coming into the IRS to take a look at this. We've got outside members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- who are taking a look at this. And we have, based on news reports, professional investigators, the Department of Justice, who are investigating this.
So I would actually make the case to you that we have a wide variety of outside, impartial, independent observers -- all of whom share the goal of getting to the bottom of what happened and making sure it didn't happen -- it doesn't happen again. And we'll cooperate with those efforts as necessary.