Former WH chief of staff: Obama admin ‘made the right call’ in IRS handling

Updated
Internal Revenue Service Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner leaves a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after refusing...
Internal Revenue Service Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner leaves a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after refusing...
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta has been in Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough’s shoes before – and says the current administration did the right thing in not telling the president about the ongoing investigation into the agency.

While McDonough and White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler knew of the inspector general’s investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups on April 24, and had intended to tell Obama once the audit was completed, the president learned from press reports when the story broke much earlier.

On Thursday’s The Daily Rundown, Podesta said that was the correct decision to wait until the investigation had been completed, and noted he had to make a similar choice when Bill and Hillary Clinton’s real estate investments were being probed during the 1990s.

“I think they made the right call in this regard,” said Podesta, who now chairs the progressive think tank the Center for American Progress. “If you go back to the original Whitewater investigation, it was about whether the White House interfered in an ongoing Treasury investigation. We spent seven years and $100 million and two independent counsels to find out no one did anything wrong. It would have brought be out whether he tried to influence it.

“In these situations, the counsel made the decision that this is not the kind of thing you notify a president of an investigation that is not complete because it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so,” said Podesta.  

“You are always slow off the dime when these things hit you in the face,” he added. “They did the right thing in asking for [acting IRS head Steven Miller’s] resignation and moved forward with that. So look, it always seems wobbly at the beginning but I think they’re on the right course with the IRS.”

Former WH chief of staff: Obama admin 'made the right call' in IRS handling

Updated