Political Headlines May 17, 2013: IRS Scandal: Steven Miller Grilled at House Hearing

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

IRS Scandal: Steven Miller Grilled at House Hearing

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-17-13

ABC News

Irate lawmakers grilled Steven Miller on Friday, demanding to know who was responsible for the IRS’ targeting of Tea-Party groups, why it continued, and why no one told Congress about it.

“First and foremost, as acting commissioner I want to apologize on behalf of the IRS for the mistakes that we made and the poor service that [we] provided,” Miller told the House Ways and Means Committee in his opening statement. “Partisanship or even the perception of partisanship has no place at the IRS.”…READ MORE

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On This Day in History…. May 17, 1973: Senate Watergate Committee Begins Televised Hearings 40 Years Ago

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

On This Day in History…. May 17, 1973: Senate Watergate Committee Begins Televised Hearings 40 Years Ago

Watergate Hearings Televised 40 Years Ago

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-17-13

David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Richard Milhous Nixon was “not a crook,” or so the 37th U.S. president would have us believe.  But such denials at a Nov. 17, 1973, news conference meant little or nothing by then, six months to the day after North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin opened two weeks of often-riveting, live televised hearings on the Watergate scandal….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 17, 2013: Immigration Overhaul: House “Gang of Eight” Has Agreement in Principle

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Immigration Overhaul: House Has Agreement in Principle

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-17-13

The House bipartisan “Gang of Eight” has reached an agreement in principle on immigration overhaul, including major points such as a pathway to citizenship, border security, health care and guest workers, a member of the group told ABC News Thursday night.

The lower chamber now expects to work out details next week before taking the Memorial Day break and introducing the bill June 4….READ MORE

History Buzz May 16, 2013: Julian Zelizer on President Barack Obama stands against flurry of scandal

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Obama stands against flurry of scandal

Source: Globe & Mail, 5-16-13

…But second-term stumbles could be the mark of a bright future, according to Princeton University history and public affairs professor Julian Zelizer.

“Second-term presidents who have had scandals have gone on to do big things after,” he said. “Reagan had Iran-Contra but he ended up negotiating an end to the Cold War. … [Bill] Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives but went on to have surpluses, mount a military offensive in Yugoslavia and is one of the most popular presidents. Even George Bush, who was very unpopular and had his own scandals, ended up with the passage of [a financial bailout].”

Prof. Zelizer added: “It’s much too early to count [the President] out, not only in terms of survival but in terms of what he can accomplish. There’s still a lot of space for him to be more than just a lame duck.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines May 16, 2013: House Votes to Repeal Obamacare for Third Time with Vote of 229-195

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

House Votes to Repeal Obamacare for Third Time

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, 229-195. The vote was called at 6:26 p.m. by Rep. Michele Bachmann.

This was the third vote for full repeal of the health care law, and the 37th overall vote the House has taken to disrupt, dismantle, defund or repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 16, 2013: Vowing to Sue IRS, Tea Partiers Descend on DC Hold Press Conference with Rep. Michele Bachmann

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Vowing to Sue IRS, Tea Partiers Descend on DC

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-16-13

Tea Party activists descended on Washington Thursday, promising to sue the Internal Revenue Service and claiming vindication in their long-held complaints about perceived government overreach.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill Thursday morning, activists joined Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to lambaste the federal government for targeting them with extra scrutiny as they applied for tax-exempt status as public-advocacy groups….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 16, 2013: House Speaker John Boehner: Scandals Reveal Obama Administration’s ‘Arrogance of Power’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner: Scandals Reveal Obama Administration’s ‘Arrogance of Power’

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-16-13

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

With a three-headed monster of controversy and scandal chasing the president this week — Benghazi, the IRS, The Justice Department’s monitoring AP —  House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that an “arrogance of power” within the Obama administration threatens to unravel the American people’s dithering confidence in government.

“Nothing dissolves the bonds between the people and their government like the arrogance of power here in Washington, and that’s what the American people are seeing today from the Obama administration — remarkable arrogance,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 16, 2013: President Barack Obama Names Danny Werfel New Acting IRS Commissioner

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Names New Acting IRS Commish

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

President Obama on Thursday appointed Office of Management and Budget official Danny Werfel to serve as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

Werfel, 42, replaces Steven Miller, who was asked to resign Wednesday in the wake of revelations that IRS employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 16, 2013: President Barack Obama Weathers Rain Storm at Rose Garden Press Conference with Help from Marine, Umbrella

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

WATCH: Obama Weathers Storm with Help from Marine, Umbrella

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-16-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

With a trio of scandals rocking the Obama administration, a dark cloud has descended over the White House in recent days.
On Thursday, clouds literally opened up on President Obama. Running 47 minutes late, President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan stepped out into the Rose Garden for a joint press conference as a light sprinkle began to fall….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 16, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Rose Garden Press Conference Discussing the IRS & the Associated Press / Justice Department Scandals & Syria

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Joint Press Conference by President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Political storm clouds gave way to a steady drizzle at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday.

Source: WH, 5-16-13

Rose Garden

12:48 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, before we get started let me just make sure that I’m a good host.  Mr. Prime Minister, do you want an umbrella?  (Laughter.)  Because we can arrange it if you need it.  You’re okay?  All right, this will be incentive for the press to ask concise questions and us to give concise answers.

I’m going to start with Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg.

Q    Unfortunately, we all forgot umbrellas.  Mr. President, I want to ask you about the IRS.  Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd?  And when they did find out, do you think that you should have learned about it before you learned about it from news reports as you said last Friday?  And also, are you opposed to there being a special council appointed to lead the Justice Department investigation?….

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, with respect to the IRS, I spoke to this yesterday.  My main concern is fixing a problem, and we began that process yesterday by asking and accepting the resignation of the Acting Director there.  We will be putting in new leadership that will be able to make sure that — following up on the IG audit — that we gather up all the facts, that we hold accountable those who have taken these outrageous actions.  As I said last night, it is just simply unacceptable for there to even be a hint of partisanship or ideology when it comes to the application of our tax laws.

I am going to go ahead and ask folks — why don’t we get a couple of Marines, they’re going to look good next to us — (laughter) — just because I’ve got a change of suits — (laughter) — but I don’t know about our Prime Minister.  There we go.  That’s good.  You guys I’m sorry about.  (Laughter.)

But let me make sure that I answer your specific question.  I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press. Typically, the IG reports are not supposed to be widely distributed or shared.  They tend to be a process that everybody is trying to protect the integrity of.  But what I’m absolutely certain of is that the actions that were described in that IG report are unacceptable.

So in addition to making sure that we’ve got a new acting director there, we’re also going to make sure that we gather up the facts, and hold accountable and responsible anybody who was involved in this.  We’re going to make sure that we identify any structural or management issues to prevent something like this from happening again.  We’re going to make sure that we are accepting all of the recommendations that the IG has in the report.

And I’m looking forward to working with Congress to fully investigate what happened, make sure that it doesn’t happen again, and also look at some of the laws that create a bunch of ambiguity in which the IRS may not have enough guidance and not be clear about what exactly they need to be doing and doing it right, so that the American people have confidence that the tax laws are being applied fairly and evenly.

So in terms of the White House and reporting, I think that you’ve gotten that information from Mr. Carney and others.  I promise you this — that the minute I found out about it, then my main focus is making sure we get the thing fixed.  I think that it’s going to be sufficient for us to be working with Congress.  They’ve got a whole bunch of committees.  We’ve got IGs already there.

The IG has done an audit; it’s now my understanding they’re going to be recommending an investigation.  And Attorney General Holder also announced a criminal investigation of what happened. Between those investigations, I think we’re going to be able to figure out exactly what happened, who was involved, what went wrong, and we’re going to be able to implement steps to fix it.

And that, ultimately, is the main priority that I have, but also I think the American people have.  They understand that we’ve got an agency that has enormous potential power and is involved in everybody’s lives.  And that’s part of the reason why it’s been treated as a quasi-independent institution.  But that’s also why we’ve got to make sure that it is doing its job scrupulously and without even a hint of bias, or a hint that somehow they’re favoring one group over another.

And, as I said yesterday, I’m outraged by this in part because, look, I’m a public figure — if a future administration is starting to use the tax laws to favor one party over another or one political view over another, obviously we’re all vulnerable.  And that’s why, as I’ve said, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you should be equally outraged at even the prospect that the IRS might not be acting with the kind of complete neutrality that we expect.

And I think we’re going to be able to fix it.  We’re going to be able to get it done, and we’ve already begun that progress and we’re going to keep on going until it’s finished.

Jeff Mason.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I’d like to ask you about the Justice Department.  Do you believe that the seizure of phone records from Associated Press journalists this week — or before that was announced recently this week was an overreach?  And do you still have full confidence in your Attorney General?  Should we interpret yesterday’s renewed interest by the White House in a media shield law as a response to that?  And, more broadly, how do you feel about comparisons by some of your critics of this week’s scandals to those that happened under the Nixon administration?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I’ll let you guys engage in those comparisons and you can go ahead and read the history I think and draw your own conclusions.

My concern is making sure that if there’s a problem in the government that we fix it.  That’s my responsibility, and that’s what we’re going to do.  That’s true with respect to the IRS and making sure that they apply the laws the way they were intended. That’s true with respect to the security of our diplomats, which is why we’re going to need to work with Congress to make sure that there’s adequate funding for what’s necessary out there.

Now, with respect to the Department of Justice, I’m not going to comment on a specific and pending case.  But I can talk broadly about the balance that we have to strike.  Leaks related to national security can put people at risk.  They can put men and women in uniform that I’ve sent into the battlefield at risk. They can put some of our intelligence officers, who are in various, dangerous situations that are easily compromised, at risk.

U.S. national security is dependent on those folks being able to operate with confidence that folks back home have their backs, so they’re not just left out there high and dry, and potentially put in even more danger than they may already be.  And so I make no apologies, and I don’t think the American people would expect me as Commander-in-Chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.

Now, the flip side of it is we also live in a democracy where a free press, free expression, and the open flow of information helps hold me accountable, helps hold our government accountable, and helps our democracy function.  And the whole reason I got involved in politics is because I believe so deeply in that democracy and that process.

So the whole goal of this media shield law — that was worked on and largely endorsed by folks like The Washington Post Editorial Page and by prosecutors — was finding a way to strike that balance appropriately.  And to the extent that this case, which we still don’t know all the details of — to the extent that this case has prompted renewed interest about how do we strike that balance properly, then I think now is the time for us to go ahead and revisit that legislation.  I think that’s a worthy conversation to have, and I think that’s important.

But I also think it’s important to recognize that when we express concern about leaks at a time when I’ve still got 60,000-plus troops in Afghanistan, and I’ve still got a whole bunch of intelligence officers around the world who are in risky situations — in outposts that, in some cases, are as dangerous as the outpost in Benghazi — that part of my job is to make sure that we’re protecting what they do, while still accommodating for the need for information — or the need for the public to be informed and be able to hold my office accountable.

Q    I asked about Holder as well.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. Prime Minister, just excuse me — you’re right, I have complete confidence in Eric Holder as Attorney General.  He’s an outstanding Attorney General and does his job with integrity, and I expect he will continue to do so.

Q    Mr. President, my first question is to you.  You mentioned that Assad should go, and the question is how and when. Is there a rough timetable?  And shall we be talking about the Syrian tragedy next year at this time?  What’s the idea?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We would have preferred Assad go two years ago; last year; six months ago; two months ago.  And there has been consistency on the part of my administration that Assad lost legitimacy when he started firing on his own people and killing his own people, who initially were protesting peacefully for a greater voice in their country’s affairs.  And obviously that’s escalated during the course of time.  So the answer is the sooner the better.

Now, in terms of the question how, I think we’ve already discussed that.  There’s no magic formula for dealing with a extraordinarily violent and difficult situation like Syria’s.  If there was, I think the Prime Minister and I would have already acted on it and it would already be finished.

And instead, what we have to do is apply steady international pressure, strengthen the opposition.  I do think that the prospect of talks in Geneva involving the Russians and representatives about a serious political transition that all the parties can buy into may yield results.  But in the meantime, we’re going to continue to make sure that we’re helping the opposition, and obviously dealing with the humanitarian situation.  And we’ll do so in close consultation with Turkey, which obviously is deeply invested in this and with whom we’ve got an outstanding relationship with.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:   Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you, guys.

END
1:26 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines May 16, 2013: President Barack Obama Vows to Get Ahead of IRS, AP Scandals at Rose Garden Press Conference

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Vows to Get Ahead of IRS, AP Controversies

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-16-13

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Playing offense, President Obama on Thursday vowed to take action in response to the three controversies plaguing his administration, calling on Congress to provide additional resources to protect U.S. embassies abroad, vowing to hold accountable those who committed “outrageous actions” at the IRS, and pledging to strike a “balance” between protecting national security interests and the freedom of the press.

“My concern is making sure that if there’s a problem in the government, that we fix it,” the president said in a rainy joint Rose Garden news conference with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, as his administration seeks to take charge in the wake of the scandals. “That’s my responsibility, and that’s what we’re going to do.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines May 15, 2013: Acting IRS Chief Steven Miller Resigns, President Barack Obama Condemns ‘Inexcusable’ Targeting of Tea Party Groups

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Acting IRS Chief Resigns, Obama Condemns ‘Inexcusable’ Targeting of Tea Party Groups

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-15-13

The White House

President Obama announced on Wednesday that the Internal Revenue Service acting commissioner Steven Miller has submitted his resignation for his agency’s “inexcusable” targeting of conservative groups who had applied for tax-exempt status.

“I reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House. “Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines May 15, 2013: Full Text of Benghazi Emails Released by the White House

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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White House Releases Benghazi Emails

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-15-13

READ full text of the Benghazi emails, document HERE

After months of demands from Republicans in Congress, the White House has released emails related to statements by the administration in the days after the terrorist attack in Benghazi.

The emails confirm that the so-called “talking points” written by the CIA on the attack underwent extensive revisions — 12 versions — and that substantial changes were made after the State Department expressed concerns….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 15, 2013: Mark Sanford Sworn In to House for South Carolina Seat

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Mark Sanford Sworn In to House

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-15-13

Mark Sanford, the former Republican governor of South Carolina who resigned from office more than three years ago only to mount a political comeback with a special election victory earlier this month, was sworn into the House of Representatives Wednesday evening, saying he was “simply humbled to be here.”

Sanford made headlines in 2009 after he skipped the country for Argentina to see his former mistress, now his fiancée, Maria Belen Chapur….READ MORE

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