Is Kathryn Ruemmler the next one under the bus?

posted at 10:41 am on May 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Until a few weeks ago, only the most die-hard political geeks would have known the name Kathryn Ruemmler or her position as White House counsel.  These days, she’s becoming more and more famous, and that might be by design.  The Washington Post highlights her role in the IRS scandal, in which the top lawyer in the West Wing is purported to have played goalie with information in order to ensure plausible deniability:

Until this week, the story of how White House officials learned that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting conservative groups was fairly straightforward. White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was notified in late April that a Treasury Department inspector general’s audit of the IRS was nearing completion. The president, officials said, didn’t find out about any of it until May 10, when it became public.

he implication was that Ruemmler was told in general terms about the report and that the information was kept within her office. But over the past few days, officials have offered a more detailed description of what really happened. Ruemmler was informed that political targeting had taken place and shared that information with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and some others on the senior staff. And there were subsequent discussions between White House and Treasury officials about the report.

But no one shared any of this information with the president. Why? White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday that Ruemmler had recommended not doing so. “In these situations,” he said, “the counsel made the decision that this is not the kind of thing that you notify the president of, of an investigation that’s not complete, because it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so.”

Some lawyers agree with that position. But is that the way a White House should work? Most previous administrations had an unwritten rule: the doctrine of no surprises. The president should not be kept in the dark about impending problems, particularly ones that are potentially explosive politically.

At a minimum, according to some officials who served in past administrations, someone, presumably the chief of staff, would give the president a quiet heads-up about something as charged as political malfeasance at the IRS. Not because the president could or should do anything to interfere with the investigation, but as a warning to be prepared. And to be able to answer the question of what the president knew and when.

This isn’t the only context in which Ruemmler seems to be taking the blame for the President knowing nothing about what happens in his own administration — and even in his own White House.  BuzzFeed’s sources are also tossing Ruemmler’s name around as a shield for Obama:

BuzzFeed has learned that key members of President Obama’s national security team, including deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, pushed to release a comprehensive timeline of events documenting the attack that would also synthesize the views of the various government agencies into one report. The CIA also wanted the White House to put out such a timeline, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Those plans were quashed, however, when the White House Counsel’s office, which is led by Kathryn Ruemmler, advised the officials to not release any information to the public out of fear it could be used against them in any subsequent investigations and other legal complications.

The White House told BuzzFeed any suggestion that Ruemmler shot down the release of the Benghazi timeline was “off base” — but an official said the White House would not comment “on leaks out of purported internal deliberations.”

BuzzFeed’s sources said the legal advice proved frustrating for a number of officials in the president’s orbit, who felt they would have better served to put to rest controversy that has lasted nine months.

“It was aggravating,” one administration official said. “It comes back to Kathryn Ruemmler, Kathyrn Ruemmler, Kathryn Ruemmler. I hate to say it, as it sounds like piling on, but it’s on her doorstep too.”

Who might be floating Ruemmler’s name for the under-bus treatment?  More than one person has noted that the leak to BuzzFeed makes Ben Rhodes look a lot better as the champion of transparency.

On the other hand, perhaps this is legitimate.  We only have a few posts before this month that mention Ruemmler, but almost all of them have to do with blocking transparency — on Operation Fast and Furious and on Solyndra, mainly:

All of a sudden on both IRS and Benghazi, we’ve gone from “the White House knew nothing” to “It comes back to Kathryn Ruemmler, Kathyrn Ruemmler, Kathryn Ruemmler.” I hate to say it, but I doubt it really stops there.  The function of a chief counsel in any organization is to make sure that the top executives know about legal (and political) dangers before they blindside the bosses.  Anyone who thinks that the chief counsels in both the IRS and the White House knew of wrongdoing and didn’t advise the top executive in each case knows little about the function and purpose of that position in the first place.

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Another womangoes under the regime’s wheels. War on womenz.

Brat on May 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM

I’ll carry out the probe on this one.

MadisonConservative on May 22, 2013 at 10:47 AM

All the President’s Women.

Whoah, I just had a flashback to 1998.

Chris of Rights on May 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Is Kathryn Ruemmler the next one under the bus?

Is she a Bull D*ke?

Then she will be fine…otherwise, she’s under the bus…

ToddPA on May 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM

It’s a rite of passage to show your loyalty to The Won by falling on your sword for him!

geojed on May 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM

She’s the Keyser Soze of the Obama administration. Just like Harriet Miers was for Bush. Mebbe Obama will try to put her on the Supreme Court.

Mr. D on May 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM

James Dean…?

d1carter on May 22, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Bullshiite of the highest order.

Either these fuds told Bark about everything and he knew exactly what was going on, or they didn’t tell him which means his entire administration is incompetent and Bark must fire all of them immediately.

Your move, Dog Eater, watchoo gonna do?

Bishop on May 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM

the most transparent POTUS evah. So transparent that nobody ever sees him.

kirkill on May 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM

She’s somewhat attractive..so she’ll go under the bus…

ToddPA on May 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Some lawyers agree with that position. But is that the way a White House should work? Most previous administrations had an unwritten rule: the doctrine of no surprises. The president should not be kept in the dark about impending problems, particularly ones that are potentially explosive politically.

Especially if he’s the smartest man in the room. She had private conversations with Dear Liar about this.

rbj on May 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

There is a cancer on the Presidency…

d1carter on May 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

I’ll carry out the probe on this one.

MadisonConservative on May 22, 2013 at 10:47 AM

…(looks at picture)…

I don’t see why.

nobar on May 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

She probably doesn’t earn as much as man would if he had the same job. Obama can find another cheap woman for to fill her shoes.

oldroy on May 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Just more of that ‘War on Women’ stuff, huh? I’m sure that in a few years Obama will be known as a Republican President.

ajacksonian on May 22, 2013 at 10:55 AM

She must go.She is the only one that knew anything about anything.

docflash on May 22, 2013 at 10:57 AM

It’ll be nice to see the wheels on the bus go round & round, but I won’t be satisfied until a certain Unicorn Prince is underneath.

KS Rex on May 22, 2013 at 10:59 AM

First Lerner gets sandbagged, and now Ruemmler is becoming popular.

If I had a job in the Administration, I’d be seriously considering handing in my resignation and quietly moving to Tahiti.

Liam on May 22, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Forgive me for the cogency, but why would a President need “plausible deniability”?

Somebody needs to tell Mr. Obama he is the Chief Executive of our country. In that position he is responsible for proactively managing the government, not denying his knowledge of its workings.

Marcus Traianus on May 22, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Anybody who wants to think the scandal stopped in the counsel’s office ought to review Watergate history when counsel John W. Dean was the self-described “linchpin of conspiracy”.

allanbourdius on May 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Allow me to be the first to congratulate Ms. Ruemmler on the highly lucrative and not very strenuous job she will soon receive at some left-wing think-tank or foundation. Maybe she’ll even get a parking spot next to Lois Lerner.

Fabozz on May 22, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Somebody needs to tell Mr. Obama he is the Chief Executive of our country. In that position he is responsible for proactively managing the government, not denying his knowledge of its workings.

Marcus Traianus on May 22, 2013 at 11:08 AM

My concept of plausible deniability extends only to covert military or intelligence operations. Much the same as in the old Mission: Impossible TV series: “…Should any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”

Liam on May 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

This White House today really needs sanitizing, it is full of garbage. We have seen corruption like this in large cities around the country, but never anything like this in the “People’s House”.

savage24 on May 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

All the President’s Women…

d1carter on May 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Where are you now, Bernstein and Woodward?

d1carter on May 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Obama is no Nixon. Nixon was competent.

ronsfi on May 22, 2013 at 11:15 AM

The press and the President coordinated yesterday.

True_King on May 22, 2013 at 11:15 AM

No way Obama was out of the loop

That said, a liar would never hire a truth teller to run interference for them.

This crowd does not call it jumping under the bus. It is called taking a dive

If she is called to take a dive, she will know she has done her best to lie for her cause. She will be awarded the Purple Bus Heart. Her future will be secure and plentiful

Worst case, she gets a big book deal in jail

entagor on May 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Doesn’t remember.

ronsfi on May 22, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Not sure.

ronsfi on May 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM

There’s no way Obama knew about the IRS scandal beforehand. He said he learned of it by watching the news, just like all of us.

tommer74 on May 22, 2013 at 11:22 AM

There is a cancer on the Presidency…

d1carter on May 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Love the conversations about “…this isn’t Watergate, certainly but…harumph!” by the thoughtful talking heads.

In its historical impact, Watergate was nothing until a hysterical press decided to nail President Nixon.

Watergate didn’t win the election for the Republicans.

Watergate wasn’t part of a close election.

Watergate was indeed, “a third rate burglary”.

This was a first rate use of state taxation power to destroy a line of opposition in a close race. And the media knows it.

IlikedAUH2O on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

People, lets stop the scandal-mongering and get back to what is really important. Via Drudge:


First Lady Michelle Obama may be considering an extended exit from Washington this summer, fleeing for weeks to the Obamas’ traditional summer haven, Martha’s Vineyard.

According to the Boston Globe, “Michelle Obama and the children may be on the island for an extended period.” But the president would hardly be suffering by comparison. He may come up on weekends and then stay for two weeks at the end of the summer, the Globe reports.

Doesn’t it make you feel so much better that the fat cow and mini-moochers will be taken care of this summer?

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

He said he learned of it by watching the news, just like all of us.

tommer74 on May 22, 2013 at 11:22 AM

I say we get Fox News to announce that the rat-eared coward is going to resign. If he hears it on the news, he’ll have to believe it is true.

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM

So is Obama being done in by incompetent women promoted via Affirmative Action? Or are liberal women just utterly incapable of following the law when they have feelings that compel them to use any means to justify their ends?

Lois Lerhner-Harassed the Christian Coalition at the FEC, now this

Ruemller- Should start reading up on the fate of Ron Brown

Hillary Clinton (Ms. “I don’t recall” from the Whitewater era

Lisa Jackson- Targeting Conservatives, and the economy, using fake email addresses

Janet Nepalitano- Used the ATF to target conservatives, thinks vets are terror threats, Fast and Furious co-conspirator

Janet Reno- Ruby Ridge, Waco.

Katherine Sebelius- threatening people who speak out about insurance rate increases, hitting up insurance companies for money

Liberal, middle aged women are a nightmare on HOA boards, but in government, they are tyrants.

Spartacus on May 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Where are you now, Bernstein and Woodward?

d1carter on May 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Hayes, Karl and Attkisson

lilacs on May 22, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Doesn’t it make you feel so much better that the fat cow and mini-moochers will be taken care of this summer?

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

It may be a vacation, but I think it’s more to get them out of Washington before the fan gets splattered with the stuff that’s coming. Maybe, too, they’re going for broke for their last vacay on the public dime. The Obamas might be living in Hawaii this time next year.

Liam on May 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Where are you now, Bernstein and Woodward?

d1carter on May 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Hayes, Karl and Attkisson

lilacs on May 22, 2013 at 11:28 AM

…though given how much he’s been attacked over the past couple of months by the left (inside and outside the big media) for being, in their eyes, a Traitor To The Cause, Woodward may get a shot or two of his own in sometime down the line, through another of those ‘insider’ books doing interviews with disgruntled current or former Obama administration operatives.

jon1979 on May 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM

The scandal grows deeper… what did the PRESIDENT know and when did he know it?

Khun Joe on May 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM

This was clearly cooked up by somebody in the WH (probably Rahm); who thinks a bunch of IRS agents just woke up one night and decided to coordinate in targeting conservative groups? No one ever thought to target Media Matters or MoveOn?

Tater Salad on May 22, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Consider – could it not only be that Michelle wants to get away from the scandals…

…but also that she wants to enjoy what she has while it lasts? That oh-so-taboo “I” word is still floating in the media.

MadisonConservative on May 22, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Woodward may get a shot or two of his own in sometime down the line, through another of those ‘insider’ books…

jon1979 on May 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM

It needs to happen fast!

lilacs on May 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Doesn’t it make you feel so much better that the fat cow and mini-moochers will be taken care of this summer?

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

It may be a vacation, but I think it’s more to get them out of Washington before the fan gets splattered with the stuff that’s coming. Maybe, too, they’re going for broke for their last vacay on the public dime. The Obamas might be living in Hawaii this time next year.

Liam on May 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Remind anyone else of when Clinton gave a press conference at the airport just before hightailing it out to Martha’s Vinyard?

itsspideyman on May 22, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Obama is no Nixon. Nixon was competent.

ronsfi on May 22, 2013 at 11:15 AM

So competent he tape recorded himself taking conspiring to commit felonies.

What are the odds the Liar-in-Chief was also so foolish…?

JohnGalt23 on May 22, 2013 at 11:56 AM

People, lets stop the scandal-mongering and get back to what is really important. Via Drudge:

First Lady Michelle Obama may be considering an extended exit from Washington this summer, fleeing for weeks to the Obamas’ traditional summer haven, Martha’s Vineyard.

According to the Boston Globe, “Michelle Obama and the children may be on the island for an extended period.” But the president would hardly be suffering by comparison. He may come up on weekends and then stay for two weeks at the end of the summer, the Globe reports.

Doesn’t it make you feel so much better that the fat cow and mini-moochers will be taken care of this summer?

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Got me thinking that this is right up Barry’s alley and that maybe he’s planned a reunion of the ‘Low Down Club’ – with his good pal Reggie…

karra on May 22, 2013 at 11:59 AM

IlikedAUH2O on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Well said. I’ll also add that any among the public outraged by Watergate were over it quickly. It’s the favorable legacy of Gerald Ford, and to a far lesser extent the one positive thing that can be said of Carter. After ’75 most were ready to move on, and by ’76 only the hardcore leftists were still griping. The media had their target. They took down Nixon. After that all that was left was a man rebuilding his destroyed reputation after that third-rate burglary.

The 1980 election was decided by the economy and the failures of the incumbent as one would expect. This is far bigger. Once it is made clear, all this should bury the Democrats for at least generation.

I’m not saying it will of course – even an outraged wiretapped media is still loyal to the brand – but it should. The leftist efforts to legitimize 15 million or so Democrat voters are their safety net from the off chance that it actually does.

Gingotts on May 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM

I’ll carry out the probe on this one.

MadisonConservative on May 22, 2013 at 10:47 AM

.
…(looks at picture)…

I don’t see why.

nobar on May 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

.
Whoooooaa there, dude …….. GET IN LINE …….
(it starts behind me)

listens2glenn on May 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Anyone who thinks that the chief counsels in both the IRS and the White House knew of wrongdoing and didn’t advise the top executive in each case knows little about the function and purpose of that position in the first place

THIS

did no one watch west wing’s oliver babish?

cmsinaz on May 22, 2013 at 12:34 PM

It makes a certain kind of sense, from a legal standpoint. If Ruemmler is the gatekeeper, and tho only one who gives Obama critical info, the fact that he was informed is strictly between them and protected by attorney-client privilege. It is very difficult to breech that privilege.

novaculus on May 22, 2013 at 12:36 PM

So, the WH tribe has decided to pile on Lerner.
Why are images of “Lord of the Flies” popping up in my mind?

Dexter_Alarius on May 22, 2013 at 12:36 PM

First Lois Lerner and then Kathryn Ruemmler….Welcome to Barack Obama’s and the Democrat’s “War on Women”!

olesparkie on May 22, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Some lawyers agree with that position.

No lawyer agrees with that position and, if they do, they should up before their bar disciplinary committee.

You’re in-house counsel to a major corporation. You are informed, officially, that the IRS (ATF, DOJ, Local PD, UPS, The Boy Scouts of America) is conducting an investigation into the company and will be issuing a finding shortly. You don’t tell the President of the company. You’re fired. If not worse. In the legal environment you never keep something from your client so they can deny knowing about it. That is a political consideration. It has no place in an attorney-client relationship.

Lawyers are “representatives” of the client. They are not the client. They are not a place where information stops. They are a channel through which information flows.

So, to clarify, some POLITICAL OPERATIVES who might also have law degrees can agree that you maintain plausible deniability. It is not a legal position.

Besides, it’s horse manure anyway. She told the President’s senior staff. They ARE the President. She did not keep it to herself, so the point is moot.

IndieDogg on May 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Anyone who thinks that the chief counsels in both the IRS and the White House knew of wrongdoing and didn’t advise the top executive in each case knows little about the function and purpose of that position in the first place.

Well sure, but this information isn’t for you… we don’t call them “low information voters” for no reason.

gekkobear on May 22, 2013 at 12:56 PM

It is not credible that the President was not informed. This is a supremely political man, and he would have wanted to know of an upcoming scandal.

billrowe on May 22, 2013 at 1:03 PM

♫♪ ♫♫

Another one under the bus,
Another one under the bus,
And another one’s done,
And another one’s gone,
And another one’s under the bus…

slickwillie2001 on May 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Ruemmler won’t have to plead the 5th. Attorney-Client privilege will keep her mouth shut if she is ever called to testify.

Guarantee upon guarantee’s … Ruemmler tells Valerie Jarrett EVERYTHING. Jarrett either blocks or whispers to Obama.

No tracing of the path to or from the top is possible.

Carnac on May 22, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Guarantee upon guarantee’s … Ruemmler tells Valerie Jarrett EVERYTHING. Jarrett either blocks or whispers to Obama.

I think you’re right, carnac.

RebeccaH on May 22, 2013 at 1:23 PM

So this is what ‘no drama’ at White House meeting*really* means…

ElRonaldo on May 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Goodbye Ms. Kathryn Ruemmler, Esq., you’re merely a speed bump in our quest for the truth which doesn’t stop with you, oh contraire counselor, we will find it. Good luck in your private sector work as we’ll be closely following your career Madam, bank it.

Tangerinesong on May 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Liberal, middle aged women are a nightmare on HOA boards, but in government, they are tyrants.

Spartacus on May 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Male or female, old or young, liberal or conservative, people who violate the norms of civilized political conduct, for partisan advantage or personal gain, are a menace at every level of society.

And there are plenty of them.

AesopFan on May 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

So, to clarify, some POLITICAL OPERATIVES who might also have law degrees can agree that you maintain plausible deniability. It is not a legal position.

IndieDogg on May 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Ruemmler’s job-description makes her the President’s lawyer, who might also be a political operative; that could be a critical distinction.

It makes a certain kind of sense, from a legal standpoint. If Ruemmler is the gatekeeper, and tho only one who gives Obama critical info, the fact that he was informed is strictly between them and protected by attorney-client privilege. It is very difficult to breech that privilege.

novaculus on May 22, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Governments keep lawyers in business, and vice versa.

AesopFan on May 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

I don’t know why Bark opposes Fox News. They bring him more accurate news and do so more promptly than his West Wing nuts reporters.

seven on May 22, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Never ever be the senior man with a secret. That is how the military operates and I am pretty sure that the Civil Service operates the same way.

Johnnyreb on May 22, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Obama used the IRS and the DOJ to steal the election. They are illegitimate, and they all need to go.

claudius on May 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Anyone who thinks that the chief counsels in both the IRS and the White House knew of wrongdoing and didn’t advise the top executive in each case knows little about the function and purpose of that position in the first place.

Spot on. And yet, this is the story that’s being pushed, by both the media and the white house. Why?

Because they know for a fact it will work. And they’re right. Again.

We all know there’s no way these clowns would fail to tell obama anything this big and potentially damaging. Since all concerned, from obama on down, know it won’t be damaging (potentially or otherwise) then it really doesn’t matter whether they told him or not.

But this isn’t for our consumption. It’s to keep the ignorant ignorant. Nothing more.

runawayyyy on May 22, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Goodbye Ms. Kathryn Ruemmler, Esq., you’re merely a speed bump in our quest for the truth which doesn’t stop with you, oh contraire counselor, we will find it. Good luck in your private sector work as we’ll be closely following your career Madam, bank it.

Tangerinesong on May 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Not trying to be mean here, but we already know the truth. Your assumption is that knowing the truth, or getting it to a wider audience, will somehow make a difference to anyone. At all. It won’t.

There will be no consequences for this, or anything else.

obama is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths because of his fast and furious program. Tell me, has anyone even been given a strongly worded letter over that? No, of course not. The people who could do anything about this won’t. Period.

runawayyyy on May 22, 2013 at 3:33 PM