White House chief of staff McDonough, others knew of IRS investigation
It seems we didn't know the whole story about what the White House knew when about the Internal Revenue Service's improper targeting of conservatives. And neither did the White House spokesman.
White House press secretary Jay Carney revealed during Monday's briefing that in addition to White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough "and other members of the senior staff" were made aware of the Treasury inspector general's report on the IRS before its release and the president was not.
Ruemmler did not receive a draft of the report but was informed of its contents on April 24, and she informed McDonough and other staff—whom Carney declined to identify. The information was not shared with President Barack Obama, who says he first learned of the IRS conduct from news reports on May 10. The final report was released on May 14.
When pressed to explain why he didn't previously share this information with the press, Carney responded that this also was new information to him.
"I think that I said I didn't know until Friday," Carney said, referring to May 17.
Carney spent the majority of Monday's briefing answering questions about the IRS controversy, which the White House had attempted to tamp down over the weekend by sending senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on the Sunday morning news shows.
Carney defended the decision by staff not to share information about the report with the president, saying the president could not have acted on the report even if he was aware.
Carney also suggested that scrutiny over how quickly the White House reacted are baseless.
"Despite all the media interest in our April 2013 awareness, it's important to remember that the misconduct of course had stopped almost a year earlier," Carney said. He noted that House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa also was made aware previously of the report and chose not to respond because it would have been improper to do so in the middle of an investigation.