Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Sunday referred to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney as a "paid liar" during a discussion of the Internal Revenue Service's singling out of conservative groups.
"The administration is still, their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind, he's still making up things about what happened and calling this local rogue," Issa told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union," as he pointed out a picture of Carney on the show's set.
When pressed on what specifically Issa was charging Carney with lying about, the congressman's office said he was referring to Carney's remarks at briefings last month that, in Issa's view, sought to place blame on employees in the IRS's Cincinnati office for targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
On May 21, Carney said: "I think that the tenor of the president's public comments about it, both in his statement Tuesday night and his public comments the next day, reflect his feelings upon learning about the apparent conduct by our IRS officials in Cincinnati." A day earlier, Carney discussed "matters involving the office in Cincinnati” in an exchange about when the White House learned of the episode.
The White House declined to respond to Issa's Sunday comments.
IRS officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. So, the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati, where IRS official Lois Lerner initially said actions were undertaken by “front-line people."
Issa on Sunday argued that evidence suggests the decision to apply extra scrutiny to conservative groups originated in Washington. "The reason why Lois Lerner tried to take the Fifth [Amendment] is not because there is a rogue in Cincinnati -- it's because this is a problem that was coordinated, in all likelihood, right out of Washington headquarters," said Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Issa's office said the congressman's claim that Carney has been dishonest is also rooted in the press secretary's statements about talking points formed to describe the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
The administration initially labeled the attack as a spontaneous assault before later calling it an act of terror. Details from administration e-mails about the attacks demonstrate that an intense bureaucratic clash took place between the State Department and the CIA over which agency would get to tell the story of how the assault happened.
The Obama administration released e-mails last month that illustrate the differences that arose between intelligence officials and the State Department about how to describe the assault. The internal debate did not include political interference from the White House, the e-mails showed.
But Carney said last November that “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two, of these two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility,’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate."