IRS audit found political bias against conservatives; groups gave up after application delay

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President Obama, who said he first learned of the matter from media reports Friday, called the finding’s “intolerable and inexcusable.”

In a White House statement issued Tuesday evening, the president said he has directed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to “hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the inspector general’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.

“The federal government must conduct itself in a way that’s worthy of the public’s trust, and that’s especially true for the IRS. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test,” he said.

The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation with the FBI, Mr. Holder said.

“Those [actions] were, I think, as everyone can agree, if not criminal, they were certainly outrageous and unacceptable,” Mr. Holder told reporters. “But we are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations.”

On Friday, the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee will hold the first of what likely will be many congressional hearings on the IRS. Mr. Miller and J. Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, are the scheduled witnesses.

The Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee has launched its own investigation.

“It’s non-negotiable that IRS agents in Cincinnati and everywhere else must do that work in a totally nonpartisan, evenhanded way,” said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat. “We’ll review carefully the independent inspector general report and tackle the key questions of what happened, how it was handled, who is responsible, and how it’s going to be fixed.”

Seth McLaughlin and Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.

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