White House lawyer reportedly knew of IRS findings in April

Weeks before an audit went public, the chief attorney knew about conservative targeting by the agency

By Jillian Rayfield

Published May 20, 2013 1:20PM (EDT)

White House chief attorney Kathryn Ruemmler was reportedly informed about the IRS's targeting of conservative groups in April, weeks before an Inspector General audit on the matter went public.

According to the Washington Post, which cites "a senior White House official":

The Treasury inspector general for tax administration told the White House counsel’s office that it “was completing a report finding that line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain 501(c)(4) organizations by using words like ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot,;” the senior White House official said. White House staff were also told the report had not been finalized, and that the publication date had not been set, but would likely come soon.

And The New York Times reports:

Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, had acknowledged last Monday that Ms. Ruemmler’s office was notified in April of the audit’s completion. Republicans may latch onto the disclosure that knowledge of the inquiry reached the West Wing weeks before it went public to cast doubt on Mr. Obama’s assertion that he learned of the effort from news reports this month. But it did nothing to bolster the Republicans’ central contention that senior administration officials must have known of the targeting in 2012 and kept it under wraps during the presidential campaign.

The issue will again be front and center this week as Congress prepares for two hearings on the controversy, one by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, and one by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

Jillian Rayfield

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

MORE FROM Jillian Rayfield

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Conservatives Irs Tea Party White House