“For fear of stating the obvious,” Kuhnhenn began, “the White House right now is confronting a confluence of issues: Benghazi talking points, IRS reviews of political groups, Justice Department’s review of journalists’ phone records, and in every instance either the president or you have placed the burden of responsibility someplace else… But it is the president’s administration, so I wonder, doesn’t responsibility for setting tone, for setting direction ultimately rest with the president on these matters?”
Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he had ordered an FBI investigation to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service broke any laws when it targeted conservative groups for closer scrutiny of their tax-exempt status.
“I have ordered an investigation. … The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken,” Holder said. “I think as everyone can agree if not criminal, [those actions were] certainly outrageous and unacceptable.”
Holder did not say specifically which laws the IRS could have violated, but he said there were various statutes within the IRS code that could apply.
More than 50 major media organizations on Tuesday sent a letter to the Department of Justice protesting the seizure of two months of The Associated Press’ phone records and calling for the department to “mitigate the damage it has caused.”
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney James M. Cole, the organizations — which include POLITICO and Allbritton Communications Company — ask that the DOJ return the secretly subpoenaed phone records and explain how government lawyers “overreached so egregiously in this matter.”…
“The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public’s interest in reporting on all manner of government conduct, including matters touching on national security which lie at the heart of this case,” the letter from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 51 other news organizations including Advance Publications, Cox Media Group, The McClatchy Company, The New York Times Company and NPR, among many others, stated.
Fournier, a former Associate Press reporter, said that he agreed with Carol.
“I agree with the AP that this is appalling and it’s chilling,” he said. “It’s very important that the press, as flawed as we can be, we do our best work when we get people in government, around government, to tell us things that their bosses don’t want to get out.”
“This effort, my suspicion is, to send a message to all potential whistleblowers, ‘we’re watching you,” Fournier added. “This is a chilling thing to do. It looks like a fishing expedition. It is unprecedented in its scope and its breadth. I think it’s a big mistake.”
“He has to demand full accountability and then heads have to roll [at the IRS],” said Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist close to the White House. “Everybody has to condemn it, no one can be defending this, and the White House has to be at the top of the list in condemning it.”…
“A muscular response is needed to deal with this,” said Phil Singer, who worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Republicans have waited a long time for an issue that plays to their perceived strength. Even though this doesn’t involve a tax hike, any kind of bad interaction on the part of the IRS, they’re going to glom on to it and not let go.”
Stop the equivocations, said Clinton White House veteran Chris Lehane, and accept the inevitable outcome: The only way to satisfy the public demand will be with an outside, independent investigation that will be free of White House fingerprints.
“There is going to need some kind of an external review that people feel is objective,” Lehane said.“I think they need to find some type of a vehicle like that will allow them to look like they are getting the bottom of it without them getting involved in it.”
“These are things you typically see in the Third World from unestablished republics and other places,” Rubio told Fox News in an interview set to air on the “O’Reilly Factor.” “You don’t see that here.”
Rubio said the compounding incidents were “increasingly leading” to questions about the president’s leadership.
“There’s three different incidents that basically use the government as an instrument of political activity, to target your political opponents, to make life difficult for people that are saying things that you don’t like, to make life difficult for whistleblowers that are saying things about the State Department that you don’t like,” Rubio said. “And I believe that all that comes from the top of any organization.”
“Before taking a few questions,” McConnell said, “let me just add one thing. As you continue to file your stories on this subject, ask yourself before you write, how would I be writing this story if this were a Republican administration?”
Via the Washington Free Beacon.
Throughout the briefing, Carney kept reminding reporters that as a United State senator, President Obama had been in favor of this “press protection” legislation but Republicans had killed it.
Todd, who had obviously done his homework, then dropped a nuke on Carney by revealing that in 2009 as president, Obama changed his mind and “killed” the legislation, even though at the time it likely would have easily passed through both chambers of Congress, which were then controlled by Democrats.
Via Greg Hengler.
The senator went on to assert that targeting political groups is a firing offense. “When I think of this thing I think of what Lincoln said,” Paul later recalled. “He says, ‘nearly any man can be tested and maybe meet up to adversity, but if you really want to test a man, give him power.’”…
“He’s tapping the phones of the press,” Paul continued. “And it turns out last year he signed legislation that allows him to detain an American without a trial and send them to Guantanamo Bay. This sounds like a president somewhat drunk on power, not cautious about how he uses the power.”