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. kgala


    We elected the wrong person president. TWICE.

    June 21, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
    Let the by-gones be by-gones. No need to bring up GWB on every issue.

    June 21, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. California Gary

    Right you are Fred.....we did elect the wrong man president.......twice.......and now Obama has had the job of cleaning up his mess. Tough duty since so many folks were and are pulling for his failure and doing everything they can to make that happen........even at the detriment of the country as a whole. Our friend McConnell is at the forefront of this group.

    June 21, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. rs

    I guess if I were a member of the Republican party looking pretty much at extinction at the hands of the idiots (like party leaders: Priebus, McConnel, Issa, Bachmann, Palin, Cruz, Franks, Akin, et al) and what they were doing to the Republican brand, then facing down Mr. Obama- a cool, literate middle-of-the-road individal who out-polls GOP candidates in all but one demographic group, I guess I might be "intimidated" too. That my party resorted to a storm of lies, conspiracy theories and piles of anti-government and anti-American propaganda, would embarrass me beyond belief.
    The Republicans are amazing. They engage in incredible bouts of self-destruction, then whine when their world looks a bit darker.

    June 21, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. jboh

    Sorry Mitch. You have zero credibility on anything you say concerning Pres. Obama. You are the best example of a cheap, political hack in DC. I know you squeaked thru last election, but don't bet on it again. You should join you fellow curmudgeon McCain, and retire for the good of the USA. Better yet, resign now.

    June 21, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. Name Uche Agonsi

    Mitch did not tell us how Obama tried in several occasions to get friendly with the Repubs, reconcile differences in their relations, organise dinner for them tried even the unthinkable to please them but without success........even to the point of allowing them reciprocate his friendly gestures with all sorts manufactured lies to undignify him. The Repubs choosed to hurt even Americans to get to Obama . If Mitch would be honest to himself, he should accept the Repubs are the political warewolves

    June 21, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Me

    Just a thought

    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

    Say how does it feel to have only the ability to spout faux news and fools lies as your only point? Would it ever have been possible for you to have even walked by a critical thinking class? Did you ever consider going inside or did they say you didn't have the pre-requisite courses as you were homeschooled by Rush Dumbbaugh and Calamity Hannity....Pathetic
    Is that all you have for every comment, faux new blah blah.....grow a brain and start thinking for yourself, many of us have never watched Fox, including myself!!!!! You have nothing else, simple as that!!! Obama is a thug and you know it!!!

    June 21, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. rs


    We elected the wrong person president. TWICE.
    Monor point Fred, Bush actually got fewer votes than Gore in 2000, but yah, how he got elected again-amazing!

    June 21, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. rs

    Intimidating- what abou the GOP's "Second Amendment solutions"? Threatening candiates (in this case Democrats)with shootings isn't exactly cupcakes Mr. McConnell.

    June 21, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Thomas Mantel

    @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?


    Let the voters decide !

    June 21, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Toughlove

    I'm glad the GOP declared war against the President's agenda that 48% of the population DID NOT WANT. Those of you calling us racists are lemmings and checked your brains at the door of the liberal temple of worship. Disagree with us conservatives but the name calling just shows tie true colors and the American people are waking up as obamas smoke machines begin to run out of smoke.

    June 21, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Snowyowl

    Poor baby Republicans! If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen!

    June 21, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. Wayne McMichael

    Well duuuh... that's the way organized crime works. Let me refresh your memory with a Quote from Valerie Jarrett:
    QUOTE- “After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time. Everyone not with us is
    against us and they better be ready because we don’t forget. The ones who helped
    us will be rewarded, the ones who opposed us will get what they deserve. There
    is going to be hell to pay. Congress won’t be a problem for us this time. No
    election to worry about after this is over and we have two judges ready to go.”

    June 21, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. Independent


    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?

    Steveo, that is the TRUE!!!! BOTH do it and cry about the other!!!! All are just a bunch of brainwashed sheep!!!!

    June 21, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. Just a thought

    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

    Really? spend money to find out people are doing their jobs? really? Groups claiming to be non-political marching on DC with the Koch Bro paid senior citizen tour bus of bigots, shouting Death to Obama, He's a muslim, Socialist, etc. Right,...those folks aren't political? You're an idiot to believe it.

    June 21, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. MAJLich

    Let by-gones be by-gones Kgala??
    We have to use the past as a prolog. It was ok for W to use the line:
    1)Either your with us or against us.
    2) Start wars with ragtag armies and claim WMD
    3) Spend over a Trillion dollars on a war with no way to get the money back and unaccoutability of billions of dollars(We went to war for the oil)
    4) Blame and critize the democratic presidant for the Repulican mess(you would have blamed Hillary if she won)(
    5) And..I could go on put we already know the FACTS.
    Now repulicans are crying foul. You know what thats called..HYPOCRASY!
    Repulicans are dellusinal, racist, out of touch and backwards. THe only way they will see the president again if the democrats screw things up during their campaign. I would vote for the green party before I vote for a republican. I will never forget the first decade of the 2000s, it will take someone really genuine before I even consider repulican. I am not the only independant thinking like this so do confuse me as a I said dellusional

    June 21, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. Just a thought

    Hey for the folks that are nincompoop enough to agree with the "Mitchy the Senate Turtle"....please tell us what this waste of space has done for our tax dollars over the past 5.5 yrs, other than declare his only job being to make Pres. Obama a one termer. And be reminded only a fool would try to justify that as being a meaningful accomplishment. Since many of you have done that already, I guess that proves the long as there are knuckle draggin idiots in this country the GOP/Tea Tards will have a fan base.

    June 21, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. MTATL67

    Not intimidation, we're just nor taking GOP garbage anymore

    June 21, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Kravitz

    Pictured in this article: The man most responsible for the massive deadlock in our political process. Also, the very reason most Americans distrust and despise republicans. Mitch, needs to be sent home. The sooner the better.

    June 21, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. stewie

    Sounds like Mitch needs a different angle. The making Obama a one term president comment didn't work so well for old Mitch so like the rest of the Republican machine we will just make up a bunch of BS during his second term to keep him from focusing on the true tasks at hand. The petty obstructionism of the Republicans can only cloud the judgement of the American people for so long. Eventually the Republican are going to have to do something other then complain and make up BS stories. It has taken two Democratic Presidents to dig the USA out a hole that Republican Presidents have put us in. Eventually someone will realize this fact and stop punishing themselves by voting for these Republican traitors.

    June 21, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. Necronn99

    We never elected this fool he was fraud from day one. Blind you are still.

    June 21, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. BLKmanWHOvotes

    The things repuks come up with in their little minds. It's more like Ole'McConnell attempts to 'intimidate' everyone with Dem after their names STUPID.

    June 21, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Just a thought

    GOP/Tea Tards talk themselves in knots everyday. They are doing absolutely nothing, and yet complain incessantly about Pres. Obama intimidating them. I've seen GOP/Tea Tard, racist rallies that are truly anything other than a welcome wagon for the first black president of this country. Signs that call President Obama the anti-christ, a muslim, illegimate/foreigner, a socialist, communist, sympathizer, old person name it and President Obama has been called that. But yet, the party of the stupid says President Obama is intimidating them? Shocked I tell ya!

    June 21, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Azzy

    Of course McConnell is whining today, to distract from his party's embarrassing farm bill debacle yesterday. You can set your watch by it.

    June 21, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. lexgreen

    I'll take a culture of intimidation over a culture of irrelevant incompetance any day, Mr. McConnell.

    Before you go after the White House, check what's been happening in your "House" the past 3 years . . .

    June 21, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. Just a thought

    GOP Tea Tards = America's Version of the Taliban...he77 bent to make this country fails just......because they're not in charge.

    June 21, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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