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

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"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. Rudy NYC


    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
    What a stupid argument. When sex crimes are committed in the workplace, the issue is resolved by an outside group. Not your boss, not your co-workers boss, not your boss' boss. It's handled by the police.

    June 21, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. TomInRochNY

    "The only way to beat a bully is to fight back."

    And, we'll be fighting back against you in 2014, Senator.

    June 21, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. sonkarlay

    He forgot when he said hes going to make sure obama to be a one tirme president, they started this the first day obama toke office, he try everything to make republican join one bold but it was just waste of time, what have he done to benefit this nation

    June 21, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Stuffit

    I think we all figured out he was a bully and intimidator during his first campaign. Events since then have only confirmted that he is the most inept, incompetent, corrupt president we have ever had. Think of all of those headlines reading "Obama slams..." He is a product of the corrupt SEIU/ACORN and therefore talks like them and acts like them.

    June 21, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Wake up People!

    We have a phrase that we use that describes exactly what the GOP does.....

    We call it "flipping the script".

    And the GOP are masters of it.

    June 21, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Evergreen

    When I think the rants can't get any more bizarre, McConnell steps up to prove me wrong. Have you no shame, sir... have you no shame.

    June 21, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Data Driven

    Gee, can I hold a meaningless presser in which to rant about conservatives? Did you ask McConnell if he's doing any actual work today?

    June 21, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Thomas Antel

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell sold us out to China .

    Both him and John Cornyn need to retire , they are like leftovers " spoiled chicken " from the GW Bush years.

    June 21, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  9. Tony

    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."

    What McConnell is saying is that Republicans don't have actual evidence that Obama did something wrong. But the truth is, Republicans don't care. The fact that Republicans believe Obama must have done something wrong is good enough.

    June 21, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Thomas Antel

    The senator from Kentucky, who's up for re-election next year .

    "The only way to beat a bully is to fight back."

    Vote McConnell out of office .

    June 21, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Mitch McObstruction has a culture of unethical behavior and working against the will of the American People.

    June 21, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. Malory Archer



    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.


    There's a lot more going on than that, but the car thief won't permit anyone who doesn't follow his pre-scripted narrative to testify on record.

    June 21, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    Of course he did something wrong!

    He ran for POTUS twice and WON!!!
    Oh the nerve!! I mean how uppity can he be?!?!?!

    June 21, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  14. Randy, San Francisco

    Pretty funny coming from the obstructionist party of saying NO to everything proposed by the Obama administration.

    June 21, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Malory Archer wrote:

    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.
    It's exactly what I predicted from day one when the story first broke. That it was a conservative behind it, trying to expedite right wing applications. But problems arose when you people started looking at the applications, they really looked like political groups and had no shame about it.

    NorCal Tea Party Patriots has a mission statement that says that they don't endorse candidates, but they do publish "voter guides", for use in the voting booth, that list out their "recommended" candidates.

    June 21, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Riiiight....this from the party of "second amendment remedies"...excuse me while I risk inhaling the entire universe with the size of my YAWN.

    June 21, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Bill

    Old turd face is still angry that Obama won relection. He is gone in 2014.

    June 21, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  18. Jeff in Virginia

    Big words coming from a little man who was absolutely involved in GWB's culture of intimidation. Anybody else here remember McConnell and his ilk saying stuff like "You're either with us or you're with the terrists!!"?

    June 21, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Sniffit


    Record numbers of filibusters
    Insane and unprecedented demagoguery on everything
    "death panels,"
    "where's the birth certificate?,"
    "he's a secret muslim,"
    screaming "you lie" during a State of the Union address
    massive voter suppression efforts based on imaginary "voter fraud,'
    "soshulizm" this, "communizm" that,
    "second amendment remedies,"
    demanding that food stamp recipients be drug tested while corporate and wealthy individuals who receive massive tax expenditures and subsidies aren't drug tested,
    leaking cherry-picked transcript snippets designed to create the appearance that Obama ordered IRS "targeting" when the full transcript actually disproves any linkage
    holding the debt ceiling and gov't funding hostage in order to demand the destruction of Medicare and SS,
    "sharia law!!!!" and other rampant encouragement of islamaphobia
    "terror babies"
    repeated attempts to restrict abortion and contraception access, etc

    You want to know who is REALLY intimidating who? Fact: the entire GOP/Teatroll strategy for the past 5 years has been to intimidate their own conservative base in order to keep them misinformed, fearful, angry and riled up. Try spinning that observation of the obvious, McConnell.

    June 21, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. Steveo

    @Thomas Antel

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell sold us out to China .

    Both him and John Cornyn need to retire , they are like leftovers " spoiled chicken " from the GW Bush years.
    Dingle has 57 YEARS in the Congress and that is longer that I have been alive! No problem that he stays or should we just let the VOTERS decide?

    June 21, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Ron L

    This is such Bull, and once again the Republicans are attempting to keep the electorate distracted from noticing the BIG issues of the day are not being attended to. it would be nice if the Republicans would decide to spend even half there time talking about the BUDGET and why so little work is being done on it AFTER complaining for 4 years the Senate had not proposed one, or the passing a Fair FARM BILL that does not subsidize wealthy farm owners (that INCLUDE members of Congress), large successful companies, but maintains food stamps for the poor, or creating NEW JOBS by REBUILDING AMERICA, what about the HIGH INTEREST on STUDENT LOANS while the BIG banks and get rock bottom rates, or the need to raise the minimum wage by at least $1.00 an hour so full time American’s don’t require assistance from the Government, or the RIDICULOUSLY high costs of healthcare in which hospitals 200 miles apart can have a 60% difference in what the charge for the same procedure but there is no way the consumer can find out until after the work is done!! No matter what type of healthcare system we have if the cost aren't brought under control it's going to bankrupt the system. These are the issues they should be talking about, not this nonsense.

    June 21, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. MaryM

    Oh, poor Mr Turtle man, your one term Pres remark was a lie and so is your "intimidation' remark. Bye Bye, Mr turtle man.

    June 21, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. Pander Bear

    Wasn't this the guy who was per-emptively smearing Ashley Judd? Mitch McConnell is a tool.

    June 21, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. Tom from Canonsburg

    The GOP has been shouting down anyone any one that disagrees with them for 3 decades. Knowing that 2 wrongs don't make a right, isn't this just the pot calling the kettle black? It seems they always cry foul when anyone plays using their rules.

    June 21, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  25. Caumont

    We have all seen the intimidation and only the loony left refuses to acknowledge it. If it was them and theirs they would be rioting in the street. The Obama administration has stonewalled the IRS investigation and its time for a special prosecutor to take charge. Corruption and ethical lapses are rampant in this Administration.

    June 21, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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