Analysis: Is the White House Obscuring the Truth?

Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

What did the president know and when did he know it?

Those simple questions are at the heart of the scandals buffeting the White House, and they were only obscured by White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, appearing on the Sunday talk shows to represent the administration. Asked by Fox News' Chris Wallace where the president was in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, Pfeiffer dodged, only saying he was "kept up to date throughout the day." When pressed if he was being briefed in the Situation Room, Pfeiffer responded that it was an "irrelevant fact"—a formulation he used on several other shows to deflect scrutiny. On all the Sunday shows, Pfeiffer's party line on the IRS scandal is that it would be more problematic if the president knew about the agency's problems and interfered, raising the perception of meddling.

That argument is starting to fray, as well. The Wall Street Journal reported today that White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was aware of the IRS wrongdoing on the week of April 22—nearly three weeks before the agency acknowledged its mistakes. It's hard to believe Obama's chief counsel was aware of what happened without informing at least the president's senior staff. Adding to the confusion, the White House hasn't allowed Ruemmler to be interviewed to add clarity to the timeline.

At last Thursday's press conference, Obama chose his words about the IRS scandal very carefully. "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." Even though he was asked about the overall malfeasance, he specifically said he didn't know about the report. That parsing alone raises questions about the level of candor coming from the White House.  

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.