White House story on IRS targeting evolves

Updated
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pauses as he speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pauses as he speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

In a briefing Monday afternoon, presidential press secretary Jay Carney offered new information on what the White House knew about an internal IRS report on the targeting of conservative groups—information that’s at odds with the impression Carney left last week.

Carney said at a briefing a week ago: ”My understanding is that the White House Counsel’s Office was alerted in the week of April 22nd of this year, only about the fact that the IG was finishing a review about matters involving the office in Cincinnati. But that’s all they were informed as a normal sort of heads up.”

And two days later, Carney described the notification as “a top-line notification,” adding: “[I]t was also made clear that the matter was still under review and not completed.”

But in Monday’s briefing, he revealed that after White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was informed that the probe was coming to its conclusion, she told White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and other senior White House staff. Carney also said that Ruemmler was made aware of the report’s key finding: that IRS personnel had improperly targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny. And he added that the White House then held meetings with the Treasury Department to discuss strategy for responding to the report.

“There were conversations with White House chief of staff and with Treasury about the anticipated timing of the release of the report and the potential findings,” Carney said.

Carney didn’t tell reporters last week about any of that information.

The evolving story doesn’t offer evidence that the White House was aware of the targeting at any point before last month. But it does raise questions about whether it’s being fully forthcoming in its public statements on the issue.

“You only gave us a version,” one reporter said.

Carney also said that the information wasn’t shared with the president, suggesting that this was done to avoid any chance of improper intervention in the IG report.

“The cardinal rule is that you do not intervene in an independent investigation,” Carney said.

White House story on IRS targeting evolves

Updated