White House: No special prosecutor for IRS scandal, despite public support

The John Weld Peck Federal Building, shown Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in Cincinnati, houses the main offices for the Internal Revenue Service in the city. The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see whether they were violating their tax-exempt status. In some cases, the IRS acknowledged, agents inappropriately asked for lists of donors. The agency blamed low-level employees in a Cincinnati office, saying no high-level officials were aware.(AP Photo/Al Behrman)
The John Weld Peck Federal Building  in Cincinnati houses the main offices for the Internal Revenue Service in the city. (Al Behrman/Associated Press)

The White House will not be pushing for a special prosecutor to handle the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups, even as three-fourths of Americans are calling for one.

Asked aboard Air Force One about a Quinnipiac University poll that showed 76 percent of Americans want a special prosecutor to handle the case, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration isn't looking at that option

"We're not," Earnest said, according to a transcript. "And the reason for that simply is that there is a new IRS commissioner in place, Danny Werfel, who is a career civil servant, who represented — who served in administrations led by Republican presidents and Democratic presidents. He’s conducting a 30-day review."

Earnest said there are plenty of people looking at the matter — including House and Senate committees — and that the White House will cooperate with those probes.

"So there are a lot of people looking at this from a lot of different perspectives," Earnest said. "And we’re confident that those who need to be held accountable for the wrongdoing that occurred there will be held accountable."

Earnest's comments echo President Obama's remarks from two weeks ago, when he said he would not push for a special prosecutor. Some Republicans have publicly called for one, though.

As Rachel Weiner and Scott Clement reported today, a majority of Americans generally favor special prosecutors for major investigations, though the level of support for an IRS special prosecutor is higher than for other events from recent years.

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