McConnell: Obama administration marked by 'culture of intimidation'
June 21st, 2013
11:27 AM ET
10 months ago

McConnell: Obama administration marked by 'culture of intimidation'

(CNN) - The Obama administration is eager to defend progressive efforts to dismantle conservative causes, and it stands ready to "shut up anybody who challenges it," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday in a hard-hitting speech.

Using the recent Internal Revenue Service controversy to back up his claim, McConnell accused the Obama administration of pursuing an agenda that aims to "stifle speech" and enact a "culture of intimidation."

"Our ability to freely engage in civic life and to organize in defense of our beliefs is still under coordinated assault from groups on the Left that don't like the idea of anyone criticizing their aims, and from a White House that appears determined to shut up anybody who challenges it," he said at the American Enterprise Institute, a year after he made a cautionary speech about the administration at the same conservative think tank.

The IRS admitted to unfairly targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status starting in 2010, but officials say the action was a bureaucratic shortcut in its Cincinnati office. They maintain that it was not done out of political bias.

Republicans, however, argue the scandal is proof that the administration and progressive groups have been trying to clamp down on those who disagree with the president's agenda. Some have gone as far as saying the order to target conservative groups at the IRS came directly from Washington, not Ohio.

But congressional investigators have not produced evidence of any political dealing in the matter by the White House.

For his part, McConnell said he doesn't believe President Obama "actually picked up a phone and told someone over at the IRS to slow-walk those applications or audit anybody."

"But the truth is, he didn't have to," he added. "The message was clear enough."

The senator from Kentucky, who's up for re-election next year, singled out union groups for conspiring too closely with government officials, resulting in what he described as oppression against the public. "This isn't done in the interest of serving taxpayers. It's done in the interest of fleecing them."

A perfect example, he said, was the news this week that the IRS owes $70 million in bonuses to employees in the next several months. The agency says it's legally bound to pay the bonuses, if required by contracts worked out with the National Treasury Employees Union, according to a spokesman. It said it is acting under guidance from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

"The IRS union is thumbing its nose at the American people," McConnell said. "All it cares about is helping union workers get theirs. It's pure arrogance, and it reflects a sense of entitlement better suited to an aristocracy than to a nation of constitutional self-government."

The White House hopes the media loses interest in the story, he said, but "we can't move on."

"Let's not lose sight of the larger scandal that's been right in front of us for five years: a sitting president who simply refuses to accept the fact that the public isn't going to applaud everything he does," he said. "The only way to beat a bully is to fight back."

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Friday that acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel had indicated he would complete an initial report on the agency ordered by the White House by the end of June. When he took over leadership of the IRS on May 22, Werfel was given 30 days to provide his review of the agency.

– CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto and CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


Filed under: IRS • Mitch McConnell • President Obama
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Dave Harris

    As usual, this is Republicans accusing everybody else of what they themselves are doing. It is Republicans who've done everything possible to paralyze the government and obstruct any progress at problem solving. It is McConnell himself who declares that the ONLY goal of Republicans was the defeat of Obama. It is Republicans who threaten, and denounce, and hate anyone who disagrees with them. No wonder they can't get elected anymore.

    June 21, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. California Gary

    Our man Mitch is complaining about a culture of intimidation? Now that's rich. This coming from the man that openly announced that his only priority in the last congress was to make Obama a one term president? This coming from the man that viciously attacked an opponent in his senate race before she even became an opponent.......and was willing to question her mental health? Mitch and the rest of his GOP cronies are the masters of intimidation.....his complaint rings hollow.

    June 21, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. patNY

    Is he for real? Does he think we forgot that he said the Republican's mission in Congress is to make Obama a one term president, and just say no to anything he wants? My gosh! Time for Kenntucky to ditch Mitch!

    June 21, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    smith

    Sexual Assualts happend in every workplace enviroment in the US but democrats focus only on the crimes committed in the military. This is nothing but a way to degrade the military. Liberals have been doing this for decades.(throwing dog feces at vets). They have no shame

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except EVERYONE with more than two active brain cells KNOWS that sexual harassment is a serious offense and every employer in America is well aware they face criminal and civil recourse if they fail address it.

    June 21, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. Dan5404t

    Actually, Mr. McConnell, the Obama administration is dominated by determination to fight the ultra-right wing minority party's political bullying. Discrimination against women and minorities, interfering with voting rights, gerrymandering to keep extremists in office, all-time use of the filibuster and total obstruction to anything Obama has proposed for five years. Meanwhile, doing nothing and working fewer hours than any Congress in history. They are the party of regression and backward looking politics that the majority rejected twice in presidential elections. Now that the people and the administration are fighting back, you call it intimidation. I call it justice on the way.

    June 21, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Mike Wallace

    So he is attacking citizen's rights to assemble into unions? Hello, hypocrisy.

    June 21, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. Ura

    The Republicans obviously have forgotten the Bush Administration and Shooter Cheney – VP Cheney refused to divulge any information on his meetings, outing of Valerie Plame (CIA Agent) which put many lives at risk over politics. I do not remember the idiot from Kentucky objecting to this act. I guess the bigger issue is: did the TEA PARTY DESERVE TAX EXEMPT STATUS TO BEGIN WITH? How many political action groups have tax exempt status? NONE

    June 21, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. Wake up People!

    I'm just wondering why the MSM never quotes McConnell on his #1 goal for the GOP? I have to read all this garbage he spews, yet that quote is never quoted.....

    It's kind of like why does the MSM never tell the American people that no conservative groups were denied by the IRS, and not only conservative groups were targeted?

    Why do we not get the whole story??? Just soundbites......
    Sounding a lot like Fox these days......tsk tsk tsk.

    June 21, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. rob

    Its about time someone in the Rep leadership said something like this. They need to say it everytime they have a press conference on any topic. He said: "The White House hopes the media loses interest in the story, he said, but "we can't move on." The White House is not just hoping, they are confident that the media will loose interest because they already have. If the NYT does not scream about it, NO ONE ELSE IN THE LIBERAL MEDIA WIILL TOUCH IT.

    The hearings in the house need to continue regardless of the antipathy of the liberal media democrat lapdogs. The Repubs need to supeana everyone, let them all plead the 5th untill the evidence is so powerfull that no one can ignor it. That is the only way we will ever get to the bottom of this culture of corruption prevailing in Washington.

    June 21, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Malory Archer

    Ray E. (Georgia)

    When the cat is away, the mice will play,
    Back before ships were powered by steam there was a rule of no women on ships. Nothing has changed but the social engineers finally allowed women on ships and other places in the military. Never a good idea but some people you can't tell anything. Certain places in the military women shouldn't be. You know the results.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So are you implying that women on ships DESERVE to be assaulted, because if they weren't there, it wouldn't happen???!!! Really?! REALLY???!!!

    Or are you really saying that men have no self control around women? But that would mean the problem is THEM, and not the women they're attacking because they can't control themselves.

    Either way you're making a terrible argument for men.

    June 21, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    That would be an understatement.

    The administration is marked by having the largest brain washing campaign in U.S. history, based entirely on lies.

    June 21, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. Steveo

    Dave Harris

    As usual, this is Republicans accusing everybody else of what they themselves are doing. It is Republicans who've done everything possible to paralyze the government and obstruct any progress at problem solving. It is McConnell himself who declares that the ONLY goal of Republicans was the defeat of Obama. It is Republicans who threaten, and denounce, and hate anyone who disagrees with them. No wonder they can't get elected anymore.
    -----------–
    Half wrong! BOTH parties do this. BOTH! As long as we cheer when OUR party does it, all is well, right?

    June 21, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. A Kickin` Donkey

    Mr. Obama brought in an administration of competence and far greater accountability compared to what we had. He is a Columbia and Harvard grad. He and his team have powerful credentials, powerful experience, and powerful confidence in their abilities, the morality of their convictions and their solid electoral mandate. [Romney was destroyed].

    For a political party that blatently appeals to the base racists, someone like Obama with all the attributes above IS INTIMIDATING . . . simply because he is breathing.

    And as far as McConnell`s reference to a "bully", the only "unfairness" is that the Obama administration has real ideas and real solutions while the GOP comes to the fight empty-handed. But it is the GOP that started the fight and continues to agitate.

    Please tell me what laws were BROKEN in scrutinizing the tax exempt status those "TeaParty" 501c4 groups. The answer is: NONE.

    June 21, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I am nonplussed at the stuff that these Republicans spew and get away with spinning and spreading with the help of "news" organizations like CNN, Fox, and unfortunately many others.
    Republicans have mastered the art of spin and projection, accusing others of what they are known for and guilty of.
    The poor saps that still believe that the "news" that they get from some of these so-called news organizations is reliable must be hiding under their beds awaiting armageddon filled with despair.
    Commenting on this site is fun for me, but when I stop to think of what we're doing to the psyche of the average, unsupecting American who comes here to learn what is happenning in our country's politics I cringe and then I get angry.
    It is not right to give liars, spinners, do-nothing freeloaders who have dedicated themselves to filling their coffers and pockets with money and power versus actually doing the work they were elected to do a public platform. It just isn't.
    Let them lie if they want to but the media should not be complicit,nor should they report the lies as truths.
    The media has a responsibility that has been forsaken and completely compromised for the sake of ad revenue and "hits".
    Deplorable state of affairs.

    June 21, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. Robert Jay

    This guy is a circus side show – ca any one point to one / just one postive thing for the good of this country that this senile imposter has done in the senate since he has been there – I don't even hear his chosen bedfellows quaote him anymore – what absolute joke of a man he is! – Oh and by the way- if this waesel has the guts to come out in public I would tell him this to his face!

    June 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Wake up People!

    Now, now Mallory, you know those poor wittle lonely men can't be held responsible for their actions. After all, the women were teasing them in their tight uniforms. The men just can't help themselves and it's all the fault of the women.

    June 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. GenYer

    Well, first off, the employees of the IRS cannot be controlled by 1 or 100 people. Many people of all generations in this age only care about themselves. So, I won't blame anyone other than the IRS and its employees that screwed up for this. That being said:

    For his part, McConnell said he doesn't believe President Obama "actually picked up a phone and told someone over at the IRS to slow-walk those applications or audit anybody."

    "But the truth is, he didn't have to," he added. "The message was clear enough."

    Does he think Obama has special mind powers where he can send messages to people and make them do bad things? This is just as bad as the whole "legitimate rape" thing where women can magically stop the conception process if they want to. Politicians and women do not have super human powers. Next thing you know, they will be saying that children can magically teach themselves everything so we don't need an education budget.

    June 21, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Malory Archer

    rob

    Its about time someone in the Rep leadership said something like this. They need to say it everytime they have a press conference on any topic. He said: "The White House hopes the media loses interest in the story, he said, but "we can't move on." The White House is not just hoping, they are confident that the media will loose interest because they already have. If the NYT does not scream about it, NO ONE ELSE IN THE LIBERAL MEDIA WIILL TOUCH IT.

    The hearings in the house need to continue regardless of the antipathy of the liberal media democrat lapdogs. The Repubs need to supeana everyone, let them all plead the 5th untill the evidence is so powerfull that no one can ignor it. That is the only way we will ever get to the bottom of this culture of corruption prevailing in Washington.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, especially the part about the so-called "IRS scandal" being enacted and carried out by a guy who identifies himself as a conservative republican who was fast-tracking those applications. Funny how your ilk never mentions that fact.

    June 21, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. sonny chapman

    "You're either with us or against us". – George W. Bush. Any one who dared to disagree w/W. on ANYTHING was emboldening the enemies. Karl Rove & W. took 9-11, which happened on HIS watch & ran w/it until 2006, when the American voters got sick of 'em.

    June 21, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. rob

    California Gary said
    "This coming from the man that viciously attacked an opponent in his senate race before she even became an opponent.......and was willing to question her mental health?"

    Your referring to the illegal wire tap of McConnell"s private office while in a private conversation discussing information already available about a possible opponent. When is that guys trial going to begin?

    I'm sure taht people like Gary don't have a problem with the IRS targeting Conservative groups because of their political THOUGHT . Nor do they care if the United States DOJ abusing their powers to grab phone and email records from news organizations and individual Journalists in a very transparent attempt to INTIMIDATE them and anyone who would dare to offer information that might damage the Administration.

    June 21, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    McConnell is facing re-election. He hasn't figured out that he needs to retire.

    June 21, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Moderate Sean

    Rick McDaniel – your actual proof vs innuendo and simple talking points are....??? Stop with the bombastic commentary and provide legitimate facts/evidence. Thank you....

    June 21, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. GenYer

    I cannot help but read what you write, Malory Archer, in Malory Archer's voice. Hehe.

    June 21, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. rs

    I love it when Republicans pull this foolishness. Really Senator? After all the nonsense your party pulled on the President of the United States- Birtherism for example? Endless conspiracy theories and, anti-government statements; The racism of the TEA Party? No, that isn't intimidating at all!
    The Republicans have no concept of reality whatsoever.

    June 21, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. rob

    @Malory

    The investigations are ongoing with one person of some authority already taking the 5th amendment (you know that one about protection against self incrimination). The media won't do their job so I implore the house Republicans to continue to excercise their constitutional right of oversight and investigation no matter wher it goes.

    June 21, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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