White House knew of IRS targeting in late April, official says

The White House says that its counsel's office was informed of the IRS's targeting of conservative groups in late April, after earlier saying that it knew that an inspector general's report about the issue was coming but that it didn't know its findings.

A senior White House official told the Post's Zachary A. Goldfarb on Sunday that the White House Counsel's office had been aware since late last month that the IRS watchdog would soon report that agency officials had inappropriately screened conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The Treasury Department 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 also were told the report had not been finalized, and that the publication date had not been set, but would likely come soon.

One week ago, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the counsel's office had been told the inspector general was completing its report but hadn't been given any details of the report.

"My understanding is that the White House Counsel’s Office was alerted in the week of April 22nd of this year, only about the fact that the IG was finishing a review about matters involving the office in Cincinnati," Carney said. "But that’s all they were informed as a normal sort of heads up."

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said essentially the same thing during  appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows over the weekend.

"It's important to know what we actually knew, which is just that there was an investigation that was coming to conclusion, not that we knew the results," Pfeiffer said on ABC's "This Week." "We didn't see the report until it was released last Wednesday."

Despite the confirmation that the thrust of the report was shared with the White House Counsel's Office in late April, there is no evidence that the information was shared with anybody else at the White House, up to and including President Obama.

This post was updated at 9:17 a.m.

Zachary A. Goldfarb contributed to this report.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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