You know, you would expect someone who’s supposed to be advising the President to have a little better precision of language than this:
This morning on “This Week,” White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that the legality surrounding the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue service is “irrelevant,” but called the behavior “inexcusable.”
“I can’t speak to the law here. The law is irrelevant. The activity was outrageous and inexcusable, and it was stopped and it needs to be fixed so we ensure it never happens again,” Pfeiffer said.
“The law is irrelevant”? OK, regardless of how he meant that to sound, it sounds like a chief advisor to the White House doesn’t care about the law or about the IRS’s following it. That is, however, not at all what he meant. What he meant was that, completely aside from the legality issue, the activity was “outrageous and inexcusable” and could not be permitted to occur again. To his credit, Pfeiffer said as much to a follow-up question by Stephanopoulos, who clearly sensed the bad connotations to how Pfieffer worded his initial answer. ABC certainly likes to give this Administration every chance to make their answer look and sound as good as possible.
Still, it’s nice to see that someone in the White House gets it that what the IRS did was categorically wrong and that people on both sides of the aisle should be of one voice that it’s behavior that won’t be tolerated, regardless of who benefits, as I said earlier this week. The question, of course, is what’s the President going to do about this? My question is what’s taking so damned long to publicly make a move. It’s not like we’re waiting for a court verdict to decide whether or not someone acted wrongly. The IRS admitted it. (OK, so they “admitted” it in a staged question at a press conference, making that “spontaneous” admission more of a deliberate piece of theater, and the story they originally told of just a couple of rogue agents was downplaying the truth so much is also constitutes a lie, but admit the wrongdoing they did.) There should be a White House press release – which should have been done already, but it should go out now, regardless – detailing how Obama has sent over to Treasury a directive that clearly states such activity is explicitly illegal, promising that anyone involved in doing such a thing will go to jail, and directing the immediate mandatory remedial training of all IRS agents involved in this kind of work as to what their responsibilities are. Every single person that was involved in this fiasco should be suspended immediately from all duties until a full investigation is completed to determine whether they knew or should have known their actions were in violation of the law. Anyone found to have violated the law should be prosecuted and permanently banned from federal service at any level. Finally, each and every group that met with this kind of illegal obstruction should have their applications or waivers immediately approved, no further questions asked.
That would be a good start. And he could do that today. If he was really interested in correcting the matter and earning back the public trust.