Boehner: "Inconceivable" Obama didn't know about IRS targeting

The House Speaker doesn't really buy that the President's top aides didn't tell him about the investigation

By Jillian Rayfield

Published May 23, 2013 1:14PM (EDT)

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that it is "inconceivable" to him that President Obama's top advisers didn't inform him about the investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups once they learned of it.

“It’s pretty inconceivable to me that the president wouldn’t know,” Boehner said on Fox News on Wednesday. “I’m just putting myself in his shoes. I deal with my senior staff every day. And if the White House had known about this, which now it appears they’ve known about it for about a year, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t have come up in some conversation.”

“They could have attempted to insulate the president from this news,” he continued. “But with as many people that were involved in the audit, the number of people involved in the investigation, somebody — and the number of people in the White House that knew — it really is inconceivable that he wouldn’t have known about it.”

The Obama Administration has contended that the President only found out about the investigation from news reports, even though White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough learned of it in late April. From the Washington Post:

But [Ruemmler and McDonough] agreed that it would be best not to share it with President Obama until the independent audit was completed and made public, in part to protect him from even the appearance of trying to influence an investigation.

This account of how the White House tried to deal with the IRS inquiry — based on documents, public statements and interviews with multiple senior officials, including one directly involved in the discussions — shows how carefully Obama’s top aides were trying to shield him from anysecond-term scandal that might swamp his agenda or, worse, jeopardize his presidency.

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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Barack Obama Conservatives Irs John Boehner Tea Party White House