The White House is reeling from three potential scandals this week. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney joined msnbc’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to bolster the administration’s damage control efforts.
“We expect, as the president has said, for further action to be taken as the facts are established here about who is responsible for the clear failures at the IRS,” Carney said. “Nobody has been more outraged by the actions that were reported in this Inspector General’s review and no one has been more decisive in taking action to deal with it.”
On Wednesday, President Obama announced in the East Room his decision to fire the head of the IRS following disclosures that the agency targeted conservative political groups. The president said he is determined to get the issue fixed. Carney reiterated that point on The Last Word Thursday evening.
“When problems arise on [the president’s] watch, he will act decisively to fix them.”
According to the IRS, a second leading official, Joseph Grant, who was commissioner of the agency’s tax exempt and government entities division, announced his retirement amid the ongoing controversy. Grant oversaw the IRS division that scrutinized Tea Party groups when they applied for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.
Before announcing the dismissal of the acting IRS Commissioner, Obama consulted top officials from the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS. The day before, an inspector general report was released showing ineffective management at the IRS after agents were allowed to specifically place Tea Party groups under special review during a period of more than 18 months.
Obama on Thursday appointed Daniel Werfel, the controller of the Office of Management and Budget, as the new IRS chief. After speculation over whether White House and Treasury Department officials were aware of the targeting, no evidence has emerged that the White House knew about the targeting. The president denied any knowledge of the issue. ”I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press,” Obama said.
Jay Carney stressed that action will be taken regardless of the intent the IRS officials had when they targeted specific conservative groups.
“The matter at hand here, as the president made clear, the behavior articulated in the IG report is unacceptable. And regardless of the intent, and the IG report says that he did not find any indication there was outside influence or partisan intent here, but regardless of the intent, it’s wrong and needs to be corrected, and people need to be held accountable,” Carney confirmed.
An IRS hearing will be held on May 22 by the House Oversight Committee, and Neil Wolin, the Deputy Secretary Treasury, Russell George, the Inspector General of the Treasury, and former IRS Commissioner and Bush apppointee, Douglas Shulman, have been confirmed as witnesses.