LAMBRO: From bureaucratic snafu to explosive cover-up

White House involvement in IRS scandal mushrooms

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The White House’s previous claims that no one really knew about the details of the ongoing investigation is laughable on its face. People knew about this a long time ago elsewhere in the administration.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin and other political appointees in the administration knew about the inspector general’s investigation last year. It was long known on Capitol Hill, too.

J. Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, wrote to Rep. Darrell E. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in July 2012 to brief him on the investigation.

“Communications between the Treasury Department and the White House also have turned out to be broader than initially acknowledged,” according to a Washington Post story Tuesday. “At one point, Mark Patterson, the Treasury chief of staff, talked about the timing of the report with Mark Childress, deputy White House chief of staff,” the newspaper said.

As for Ms. Ruemmler’s claim that the president could not be told about the investigation because he could not interfere with an ongoing audit, experts reject that specious notion out of hand.

Joseph Newman, chief spokesman for the Project on Government Oversight, sees no legal barriers that would prevent the White House counsel from telling the president of an upcoming audit. “Once the president knows about some wrongdoing, he shouldn’t be prevented from taking remedial action,” Mr. Newman said.

This is a scandal of enormous proportions, and the worst of it, as is often the case, is the cover-up. Little more than 10 days ago, the White House was telling us that Mr. Obama’s legal counsel only knew that an audit was conducted, but knew nothing about its details.

Now we know that Ms. Ruemmler, the chief of staff and others in authority around the president knew all about it.

Does anyone really, truly think Mr. Obama was kept in the dark about this?

A large majority of Americans, including 59 percent of independents, think that the IRS “deliberately harassed conservative groups by targeting them for extra scrutiny,” according to a Post poll Tuesday. Three-fourths of those polled called the IRS actions “inappropriate.” How about illegal?

It should be clear by now that the Obama White House has been engaged in another cover-up that cries out for the enactment of a special prosecutor — the sooner the better.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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