Woodward on IRS: More answers needed
June 4th, 2013
09:10 AM ET
7 years ago

Woodward on IRS: More answers needed

(CNN) - The man who helped uncover Watergate says the Internal Revenue Service controversy doesn't rise to the same level of the Nixon scandal–but could be on its way.

Longtime Washington Post reporter and editor said he suspects the White House had a deeper knowledge of the IRS' targeting of conservative groups than officials are letting on. The public, he added, needs more answers.

"This is not Watergate at all, but the road to Watergate is concealment, is not coming clean and just say 'Oh well we won’t have to release that memo. We won’t have to let so and so testify. Let’s call executive privilege. Let’s stonewall'," he said Monday night. "And if they do that, they will dig themselves in a hole."

President Barack Obama sharply condemned the IRS for mishandling tax-exempt applications from groups with the names "tea party" and "patriot." Last month, he announced that his administration requested and accepted the resignation of then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller over the issue.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly denied that the White House had a role in the matter, pointing to the audit by the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration, which found the problem originated in the Cincinnati IRS office that handles tax-exempt applications.

Carney argues the IRS is an independent agency with only two political appointees, but Woodward said such an argument is "fiction" and "absurd."

"Clearly in the pipeline, lots of people knew some of this or should know it," he said on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.” "And I agree, this needs to be investigated, but you know who should lead the investigation? President Obama."

A recent Quinnipiac University poll indicates that a plurality of respondents–45%– believe the IRS targeting of conservative groups was a decision made by civil service employees, while 35% believes it came from the Obama administration. Seventy-six percent said a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the issue.

But an overwhelming number–73%–said the economy should be a higher priority over investigating the controversies.

A number of conservative and tea party groups will appear Tuesday before a congressional committee to give their side of the story.

Woodward pressed the Washington press corps to keep asking questions about the issue, saying people did not believe at first what he and Carl Bernstein wrote on the Nixon scandal "for a long time."

The Obama administration, he added, isn't "yet in the bunker...the answers are forthcoming" and he believes they have "moral and intellectual capacity" to fill in the holes in the IRS controversy.

"Much hangs in the balance here, not just the reputation of the news media for aggressiveness and some form of neutrality, but the whole relationship that the White House and the government has with the public about trust," he said.

Filed under: Bob Woodward • IRS
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Elucidated1

    Most Americans just want for the IRS to get fixed as well as the issues with Benghazi. . .but that is not what Darrell Issa wants. His witch hunt continues even on national TV on Sunday when he broke Congressional civility by calling the press secretary a "paid liar." Now, even Fox's Charles K. called him out on that one. Thanks Darrell.

    June 4, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Jack

    Woodward is an egotistical journalist in my opinion; just as Sam Donaldson is. I asked Sam Donaldson at a meeting the question "How he would like his personal and professional life scrutinized and his subject to conjecture". His comment was "we are not talking about me"! Most journalist are very egotistical, self adsorbed and think are above the law and are protected by the law. By suggestion they can make fiction fact. 10% a good honest, but I found that 90% of them let their ego's get the better of them.

    June 4, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "Woodward recognizes that fact."

    The only thing Woodward recognizes his is rapidly waning relevance and he's howling at the moon about it.

    June 4, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. mikle

    Where is change? Obama say before., change,change. Nobody even talk about it. What Obama done ? N O T HI N I G.

    June 4, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. lottie

    blah blah blaha now lets move on We have a new director let's give him some time to work on the problems. Congress should now try to do some thing besides look for scandal and pass bills that help the American people. The party of No needs to Go vote them out in 2014 We need to move forward and they are a stumbbling block to the country

    June 4, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. ST

    You are asking where is change? Boy! I think you can see with your both eyes as the rest of us do. How and what power Pres. Obama can use to implement change in this do nothing GOP congress. They have been voting NO with whatever Pres. came with, and still you expect change to be done???? They said it from right from the beginning, they want to make him one term President, as they failed, they are now playing like a wounded buffalo hitting everything which comes across to them. Can't you notice that mikle? We do.

    June 4, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    So, what this article is really about is the paid interview that Woodward had on Fox News Channel. They pay Alan Dershowitz to offer up his legal opinions, too.

    June 4, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....and MORE JOBS has been created under President Obama 2times over than under GW Bush!!! ***FACT***

    CNN, please do us all a favor and ONLY report on Bob Woodward gibberish whenever he has anything credible to say...but in the meantime, let him continue to sip on that kool-aid that is bing parroted by the one and only expert in car theft and insurance fraud – Darryll Issa!!!

    June 4, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. MTATL67

    When did Congress clear all the other issues on their docket??????

    June 4, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. PaulCat

    Woodward who?????

    CNN, are there any news about the economy? This is what the public need answers on.

    June 4, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The only thing Woodward recognizes his is rapidly waning relevance and he's howling at the moon about it."

    Indeed. Might I just add that even Woodward knows a losing argument when he offers it, otherwise he might take up his own advice and do what he terms real "investigative" reporting on this non story about public "trust".

    June 4, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. rs

    1. Was the submission of more than 3,000 TEA Party applications for 501 (c) 4 tax exempt social welfare organizations a coordinated effort? Who coordinated that effort?
    2. As the TEA Parties in actuality are anti-tax, anti-government political organizations, why were they granted tax-excempt status at all? Isn't this fraud?
    3. Why would the then head of the IRS, a Republican Bush appointee, engange in such a "conspiracy"?
    4. If, as the GOP now asserts that the TEA Parties are the sworn enemies of the President and the government, why in the world should they expect to recieve any support from a federal agancy?
    5. When did Issa take part in the coordinated effort to flood the IRS with fraudulant applications? (sorry, just taking a page from the GOP...)

    June 4, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    mikle asked:

    Where is change? Obama say before., change,change. Nobody even talk about it. What Obama done ? N O T HI N I G.
    You want to see change, huh? I can show you some big changes since Pres. Obama took office. Look in the mirror at you, the right wing, the conservative movement, and the Republican Party as a whole. Lots of big changes there.

    June 4, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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