Talk about bad timing! UK Prime Minister David Cameron is paying a long-scheduled visit to Washington DC, and protocol for such a visit requires a joint press conference. Barack Obama will have to face the press just as two scandals are erupting, one new — the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups for the past three years — and one renewed, the Benghazi terrorist attack and talking-points scrub.
USA Today says that the 11:15 ET presser might include a question or two on those topics, putting Obama on the hot seat:
President Obama holds a brief news conference Monday morning with British Prime Minister David Cameron, but he is likely to be asked about pressing domestic issues: Benghazi and the IRS.
Obama has not commented publicly on the IRS admission that it gave extra scrutiny to the tax-exempt status of groups with “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in their names, though White House aides have criticized the practice.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the IRS, which is conducting its own investigation, is a non-partisan entity and has only two political appointees.
“We certainly find the actions taken, as reported, to be inappropriate,” Carney said.
Rep. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told CNN’s State of the Union that it is “almost as disturbing that President Obama and treasury secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.”
Collins isn’t alone. Joe Scarborough asked Chuck Todd on today’s Morning Joe why Obama hasn’t reacted to the IRS scandal, and Todd thinks the White House has made a big miscalculation (via Jim Geraghty):
TODD: Why aren’t there more Democrats jumping on this? This is outrageous no matter what political party you are, that an arm of the government, maybe it’s a set of people just in one office but, mind you, that one office was put in charge of dealing with these 501c4s and things like that.
SCARBOROUGH: Why didn’t the president say something on Friday afternoon?
TODD: I don’t know. Maybe they were distracted by Benghazi. Maybe they made the decision they didn’t want it to be about healthcare. I raised this question – where is the sense of outrage? And the only pushback was, Jay Carney spoke about this at the press briefing and he was pretty strong. I have to say it didn’t sound very strong to me. I don’t know if the White House realizes. I think this story has more legs politically in 2014 than Benghazi.
Yes. Let’s see if the press today thinks so, too.