President Obama fought back against all three major scandals dominating Washington Wednesday, providing his defenders with fresh talking points on each issue.
On the IRS scandal, Obama announced, from the East Room of the White House, that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had asked for acting IRS Commissioner Stephen Miller’s resignation, and that Miller had given it. Miller was not acting commissioner at the time the alleged targeting of conservative groups took place, but Obama insisted that “given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.”
On Benghazi, the White House released more than 100 pages of emails between the CIA, State Department and the White House on the development of the talking points that Ambassador Susan Rice and other administration officials used when communicating on the terrorist attack. “These e-mails make clear that the interagency process, including the White House’s interactions, were focused on providing the facts as we knew them based on the best information available at the time and protecting an ongoing investigation,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told CNN.
On the AP phone record seizure, President Obama’s Senate liaison Ed Pagano called Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and asked him to reintroduce a journalist shield law that the administration claims could have helped protect the AP.
The GOP response
Republicans are not likely to be satisfied with any of these moves.
On the IRS, Congress has already scheduled three hearings on the matter over the next two weeks where they are sure to grill Miller, and IRS Director of Exempt Agencies Lois Lerner, about possibly false testimony given to Congress at the height of last year’s presidential election.
On Benghazi, the emails show that the State Department had “major concerns” about the CIA’s original draft and fought to minimize any mention of al Qaeda-linked groups. Furthermore, no mention is made of any YouTube video at all in the emails, which became Rice and the Obama administration’s main explanation of the attacks during the presidential election.
And finally, on Obama’s proposed shield law, the New York Times notes, “It is not clear whether such a law would have changed the outcome of the subpoena involving The A.P.” In other words, it is a total distraction.
Meanwhile, as conservatives press all three scandals, Obama’s top second-term legislative priority, citizenship for illegal immigrants, is advancing slowly but steadily through the Senate. Unless any of these scandals ends with resignations of top White House officials, it is hard to see them as anything other than welcome distractions.
From The Washington Examiner
Editorial: Kathleen Sebelius skirts law by seeking private cash for Obamacare
Philip Klein: Obamacare’s empress strikes again
Tim Carney: The IRS is deeply political — and very Democratic
Michael Barone: Justice flack in regular contact with Media Matters
Mark Tapscott: IRS exec got $42k in bonuses in three years
Charlie Spiering: Eric Holder can’t remember when he recused himself from AP records case
In Other News
The New York Times, An Onset of Woes Raises Questions on Obama Vision: The Obama administration controversies of recent days have reinforced fears of an overreaching government and called into question Mr. Obama’s ability to master his own presidency.
McClatchy Newspapers, Benghazi emails show CIA deputy director did most of editing on talking points: The documents show that substantive changes to a set of talking points intended for use by Congress about the attacks were made by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Politico, State fretted over Benghazi talking points: The newly public email chains suggest it was the State Department that was most concerned about taking the blame for the attack.
Roll Call, Hatch Wants to Be Wooed on Immigration: Hatch has offered a package of 24 amendments to the bill, and he wants to see some of them adopted before he will lend his support to the measure.
Politico, House Republicans threaten to quit immigration group: Republicans in the House bipartisan immigration group are threatening to leave negotiations if they don’t come to an agreement Thursday.
The New York Times, White House Pushes News Media Shield Law: Under fire over the Justice Department’s use of a broad subpoena to obtain calling records of Associated Press reporters in connection with a leak investigation, the Obama administration sought on Wednesday to revive legislation that would provide greater protections to reporters in keeping their sources and communications confidential.
PPP, 4 way tie for Republicans, Clinton leads Dems: Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Rand Paul are all tied at about 15 percent. Hillary Clinton tops Joe Biden 63 percent to 13 percent.
The New York Times, Big Banks Get Break in Rules to Limit Derivatives Risks: Under pressure from Wall Street lobbyists, federal regulators will soften a rule intended to rein in banks’ domination of a shadowy but lucrative market.
Noam Scheiber says the IRS did nothing wrong.
Jonathan Chait says there is nothing to the Benghazi or IRS scandals.
Michael Hiltzik says the real IRS scandal is the existence of “social welfare” groups that practice politics.
Sarah Kliff claims the IRS scandal probably won’t hurt Obamacare.
Stephen Hayes: Benghazi emails directly contradict White House claims.
National Review reminds Republicans that scandal is not an agenda.
John Hinderaker says the Benghazi emails show it was the State Department that drove the dumbing-down of the talking points, and that the FBI had already concluded that al Qaeda was involved in the Benghazi attack.
Erick Erickson says the IRS was only executing Obama’s rhetoric.
Jonathan Adler on Media Matters duplicity.
Helle Dale on how Benghazi exposes failures of Obama doctrine.
Hans von Spakovsky on the potential criminal implications of the IRS scandal.
Abby McCloskey on how to take away Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s nationalized monopoly.
Jonathan Strong on how Republicans are prepping for the next debt limit battle.