White House officials discussed IRS communications plans
May 21st, 2013
06:30 PM ET
5 years ago

White House officials discussed IRS communications plans

Washington (CNN) - White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged Tuesday that senior Obama administration officials discussed when and how Lois Lerner, an IRS official, should roll out news that the tax agency had improperly targeted political groups.

At the White house briefing, Carney revealed that Deputy White House Chief of Staff Mark Childress twice discussed communications strategy with Treasury Department officials.

“In the communications I mentioned yesterday, between Treasury officials in the counsel's office, as well as the chief of staff's office and over here – the chief of staff’s office and the counsel's office, that there were discussions about the timing of the release of this information and the findings of the report,” Carney said.

Carney said officials discussed the possibility that Lerner would reveal the findings of a Treasury inspector general’s IRS audit in a speech, while the acting head of the IRS share the information with Congress separately.

But he insisted the White House did not know Lerner planned to address the issue in response to a planted question at an American Bar Association event.

Exactly when the White House knew about the IG audit findings and when it knew it has evolved since the story broke.

Days after media outlets reported on improper behavior at the IRS, Carney said no one in the White House outside of the counsel’s office had been aware of wrongdoing.

Then at Monday’s briefing, he revealed that White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler had also informed individuals in the White House chief of staff’s office plus other senior staff, and those individuals had held discussions with Treasury officials.

Carney revealed on Tuesday that in those conversations, officials at the White House had discussed ways for the IRS to announce the results of the IG’s report, including a possible speech by the official at the heart of the scandal, Lerner.

“The only two instances that those discussions encompassed were the discussion about the possibility of a speech by, I believe, Ms. Lerner, which as I understand did not happen, and then the possibility that the acting commissioner would get a question in testimony about these issues and what - whether or not he would - what he would say in response to that,” Carney said Tuesday.

When asked why all of this information had not been made public during his first briefing after news of the IRS scandal broke, Carney said, “I answered the questions that were asked of me.”

“In the rapid development of information about this story and the stories that were being written, there was some confusion about that timeline, and I provided more details about it,” Carney said. “I would also say, you know, it is still just a few days since the report was released, and we have been extremely transparent in providing information, the information I provided yesterday, just a few days after this report was released, I think, reflects an effort here to provide information.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated which department had received briefings after the White House learned that the IRS had improperly focused special scrutiny on political groups. Senior White House staffers held those discussions with Treasury Department officials.

Filed under: IRS • White House
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. California

    Get together to make sure their new lie is consistent with the rest of the administration.

    Nothing but lying, cheating Chicago mobsters.

    May 21, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. Name willard

    She could be fire to her job

    May 21, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  3. just sayin

    Exactly when the White House knew about the IG audit findings and when it knew it has evolved since the story broke.

    why does everybody else in the world call this changing the story or lying? the obama administration must think the word evolves sounds intelligent but it has become a code word for deceit by these people.

    May 21, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. truth hurts but reality bites

    When asked why all of this information had not been made public during his first briefing after news of the IRS scandal broke, Carney said, “I answered the questions that were asked of me.”

    Carney has lost all credibilty and should resign at this point. He is all lied out. Spent.

    May 21, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. budsview

    i wonder if the revised mental health manual has a new category for the administrations addition to lying.

    if it doesn't, it should

    May 21, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. TommytheT

    day by day the story changes and every day we learn the story from the day before was, real another lie.

    May 21, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  7. budsview

    well two for two. my guess it was the administration's addition to lying.

    May 21, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. budsview

    i guess its ok to mention mental health, but not in regard to this administration

    May 21, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. budsview

    does the revised mental health manual has a new category for the administrations addition to lying.

    if it doesn't, it should

    May 21, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  10. All american girl

    I am having a hard time swallowing all of these changes to what and when the White House knew about the IRS. Why can't they just tell the truth. I mean is it that hard, and I know carney knew all this before today. His creditablity is shot. I voted for the administration and have been very disappointed in its actions. This is not a true representation of a liberal government. It is an example of a non-transparent, dishonest, and downright corrupt administration just like the bush administration. So no democrat has the right to question the republicans because as we can see there is o difference now.

    May 21, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  11. Borderless

    Fog of war, Jay? Oh, wait. That was the other talking points snafu. Well, let us know when you are prepared to offer your final, final answer.

    May 21, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  12. Cephus

    Fire the entire group including this good for nothing Lerner otherwise this thing is not going away.

    May 21, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. Greg C.

    It's called evading the truth...

    May 21, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  14. Will

    Does anyone really believe this (Obama's) administration anymore???? There story keeps changing over and over again. This is embarrassing!!!

    May 21, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  15. king

    i never could understand these repubs, on one hand they are shouting dictator, and the other they are saying obama doesn't know what going on in his administration, which is it!!! i still cannot understand how the hell tea party groups are allowed to get these 105c, which dont disclose who are pushing money for election purposes and why the IRA are not pushing for them to have the 127 which tell who their donors are. lesson folks we are living in a global world, which means folks from china and all over the world has a steak in America's government. the repubs are the ones that are pushing corporations to go to china. so i guarantee you thachina has a hand in pushing the repubs agenda so that their economy can strive. so how much money is china pushing through the GOP tea party groups? i want to know.

    May 21, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. Jneuy

    Lies lies and more lies. Comical

    May 22, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  17. J.V.Hodgson

    The real issue here is why the IRS got into this position.
    The answers are simple:-
    1) Congress passed laws and some have been affirmed by the Scotus that 524(c)3 and 524(c)4's , we should include 527's, the first and third must disclose donors Citizens united made it so 524(c)4's did not.
    2) QED a rush of c4 applications 96 of them with the " so called targetted headlines. Put the drama on one side they were doing thier Job as required by law.
    3) The IRS must by law examine and approve all application for tax exempt status
    4) What they actually did they did badly
    Examining thise issues and problems is whats needed the bruha ha was and is was The president involved and is what's top of Republican agenda. That is Nonsense read the IG's report.
    Why does the IG's report issue need prior approval of anyone other than the top dog at the IRS it should go" automatically" to the House and senate oversight committees and at the president's appropriate staff at the White House.
    Comparators of Nixonian, and to Watergate Or iran contra are pure unadulterated political hype and media scandal brokering.
    Fire the people respnsible for doing thie job badly and make approriate Law simplification to avoid it happening again.
    My final point is why when everything the president does has to be transparent does that not apply to the donors to a body that is ostensibly more than 50 % dedicated to social educational etc causes and in theory ( cough, cough,. splutter, splutter not be political) if thats thier 51 % purpose why do you need secrecy of donors??
    OOooops silly me its freedom of speech loophole... try that on me and you just lost a vote.

    May 22, 2013 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  18. Thomas

    More lies , we need answers , the American people deserve to know the truth .

    Fertilizer Plant Explosion in West, Texas , 14 Confirmed Fatalities

    Mayor in Texas: 'Like a nuclear bomb'

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Saying that a fatal explosion is no reason to increase inspections .

    Tea party Patriots for less regulations and less government non profit for accountability ..

    The IRS denied us , why ?

    May 22, 2013 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  19. stick it

    Cut the crap obama knew!

    May 22, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  20. Charles Murphy

    EirJay Carney, do you not have one ethical bone in your body? Why do you continue to go on National Television and lie for this Administration? When they are done with you they are going to throw you out like old garbage. This Administration is Using you to tell America their lies and make you look like an idiot for doing it. You have got to be smarter than this.

    May 22, 2013 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  21. Name Uche Agonsi

    Correct me if I dont get this properly, an irs practice to stem the flood of tax-exempt applications against political party groups in which Tea Party Group seems prominent, lasted for about 18 months, highlighted & stopped for the past 12months back......& is now subjected to this uproar /uprising.....how convincing is this on my idea of being progressive. I think Mr. President was extremely hard on the supposed-to-be-forgotten issue, though in the bid to show his innocence at a crisis-ridden momment. And for the GOPers, who are now 'fishermen & women', they are only in desparation for political relevance, which if got by hook & crook.....unfair means might become disastrous. The Repubs have somehow delusionarily stirred the country to the edge of crisis, including spear heading towards another war commitment in Syria, its hightime they stopped these because America deserves peace to progress .

    May 22, 2013 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  22. Justin G

    Carney is so fake. Reflects the White House admin I guess, but still. He sits up there everyday and changes little things or never answers the questions asked sidestepping and misguiding the question.

    May 22, 2013 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  23. BritHawk

    This is getting surreal. I guess the media needs to ask the following question at the end of the briefings – 'Are there any other questions we should have asked you?'.

    May 22, 2013 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  24. Catmandew

    Obama ordered the extra scrutiny by the IRS. We all know how corrupt he is. He lied and decieved the people that's why this was kept from us till after the election! Simple solution fire the liar and hire a real president!

    May 22, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  25. Marie MD

    Are the Koch brothers going to be brought in to testify for their tea trolls?
    If anyone needs tax exemption for hate it should start with them.

    May 22, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
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