Treasury, White House talked about how to release news of IRS targeting scandal
Turns out that the gang who knew nothing, knew everything - and even helped with the PR campaign that rolled out the IRS targeting program to the public.
Press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Mark Childress, deputy chief of staff, spoke twice with Treasury Department officials about the IRS's public relations strategy.
"This was just part of trying to find out when and under what circumstances this information would be released, made public and what those findings would be," the press secretary said.
Carney, however, made clear that White House officials were not involved in the discussions leading up to Lois Lerner's disclosure at a May 10 conference of the American Bar Association that groups had been targeted, an apology the IRS now acknowledges came from a planted question.
Lerner is the head of a section that oversees tax-exempt groups, and knew by June 2011 that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status were under special scrutiny.
"It's a nice hypothetical, but that didn't happen," Carney said.
If you say so, Jay. I don't really care who the Treasury Department was talking to about how to reveal to the American people that the IRS was engaged in improper behavior. I want to know who the IRS PR people were talking to. Carney says the White House wasn't creating a plan with Treasury, and that Treasury was a "conduit" to the IRS:
Both Treasury and White House officials have said that the department basically acted as a conduit between the White House and the IRS as the agency was figuring out its public relations strategy.
Carney said Tuesday that Childress and Treasury officials discussed Lerner disclosing the targeting in a speech, as well as Steven Miller, the acting commissioner that President Obama forced out last week, potentially apologizing during congressional testimony.
A Treasury official said that the department had concerns about Lerner giving a speech and that the department knew in advance she would respond to the planted question this month.
But the official also said the agency deferred each time to the IRS over how to disclose the looming inspector general's report that detailed the agency's treatment of conservative groups.
So the IRS had the PR ball and the White House had no direct input into how the scandal would be revealed? That's their story and they're sticking to it.