Top White House aides knew about IRS probe but didn't tell Obama

Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other senior White House aides knew about the report last month

By Jillian Rayfield

Published May 20, 2013 8:51PM (EDT)

The White House acknowledged on Monday that senior White House aides knew about the Inspector General probe into the IRS's targeting of conservative groups as early as last month, though they did not inform the president about the matter.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference Monday that officials, including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, learned April 16th about the review of whether or not the IRS targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for heightened scrutiny. The White House also said on Monday that the chief lawyer for the White House learned of the investigation on April 22, though a member of her staff learned of it the same time as McDonough.

But, Carney contended, the White House did not know the nature or details of the IG's findings. “While we had an indication of the likely findings, until the IG finalizes his report, the findings and conclusions are subject to change. And in fact, many IG reports do change significantly before they are published,” Carney said, the Washington Post reports. “So to be clear, we knew the subject of the investigation and we knew the nature of some of the potential findings, but we did not have a copy of the draft report, we did not know the details, the scope or the motivation surrounding the misconduct, and we did not know who was responsible. Most importantly, the report was not final and still very much subject to change.”


Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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