Obama Pushes Out IRS Commissioner

IRS commissioner Steven Miller resigns amid reports that IRS employees targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny (Transcript Included)

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Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 15, 2013.

As the IRS scandal reached its fifth day, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller has resigned his post, the first casualty of what will be a lengthy investigation.

Speaking briefly from the East Room of the White House after a meeting with Treasury Department officials, Obama said he was “angry” about a report finding that IRS employees targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny. He said the American people are “right” to be angry as well.

On Tuesday, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released an audit of the agency finding that employees improperly delayed the tax-exempt filing requests of conservative groups with names including the phrases “Tea Party” and “patriots.”

Obama said that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew took the first step in requesting and accepting Miller’s resignation. Obama added that “new safeguards” will be put in place to restore confidence in the agency and ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Four congressional committees have pledged to hold hearings on the audit, and the White House has called on the IRS to quickly implement its recommendations. Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered the FBI to investigate if any laws had been broken by IRS employees.

The full speech is below, courtesy of the White House Press Office:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just finished speaking with Secretary Lew and senior officials at the Treasury Department to discuss the investigation into IRS personnel who improperly screened conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.  And I look forward to taking some questions at tomorrow’s press conference, but today, I wanted to make sure to get out to all of you some information about what we’re doing about this, and where we go from here.

I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable.  It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.  I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.  And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from — the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.  The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust.  That’s especially true for the IRS.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable.  Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts.  Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.

Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again.  And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.

Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role.  And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed.  Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas.  Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in — as reported in the IG report is an outrage.  The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.

I’ll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and new safeguards, and going forward, by making sure that the law is applied as it should be — in a fair and impartial way.  And we’re going to have to make sure that the laws are clear so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way, and that there’s not too much ambiguity surrounding these laws.

So that’s what I expect.  That’s what the American people deserve.  And that’s what we’re going to do.

Thank you very much.

73 comments
Todd_Evans
Todd_Evans

what a Profile in Courage, the guy was leaving anyway

SBAllen
SBAllen

We can impeach Obama on this! Great.

JohnEvos
JohnEvos

Let's do a quick recap on this IRS thing.
1. The IRS targeted over 470 conservative groups going back through 2 election cycles. They illegally required info about donors, members, volunteers, speakers, names of the people who attended any training (especially college and h.s. attendees), all social media, all emails, all media interactions.. and on and on...
2. The IRS also targeted pro-life groups, requiring them to agree not to engage in any legal abortion clinic protests or their request would be denied.
3. The IRS targeted Christian Ministries who spoke out for traditional marriage, including Billy Graham Ministries.
4. The IRS targeted Jewish pro-Israel groups at a special DC division.. saying they were subject to greater scrutiny since there was terrorism in Israel and one group claiming they were told they needed to determine whether their organization's activities contradict the Administration's public policies..
5. The IRS illegally provided confidential tax application info from 9 conservative groups to a left wing organization, ProPublica.
6. The IRS also illegally released the confidential donor lists of the National
Organization for Marriage (NOM) to the liberal Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The CEO of NOM was the co-chair for Romney's campaign. The president of HRC was an Obama 2012 campaign co-chair.
7. The Obama campaign put out a list of top 8 donors to Romney's campaign.. IRS audits followed.
8. Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS division who's saying it was a couple of rogue agents, her name appears on the letters sent to the Tea Party groups.
9. 4 of the agents from the Ohio office have now gone on record saying they were just following orders.
10. Letters to the Tea Party groups came from IRS offices located in California, Ohio, and Washington DC.
11. The acting IRS commissioner that was "fired".. well, he wasn't really. He was scheduled to leave in early June as that was when his temp. assignment ended and he's leaving in early June. The only thing that's changed is that he's now sent an "official" letter of resignation. Smoke and mirrors.
12. And, to top it all off, now it appears that the IRS illegally confiscated 60 million medical records from 10 million Americans in a seizure out in Calif. Aren't these the folks we're going to be trusting to enforce ACA insurance mandate provisions with their guarantee they won't use the info to illegally access medical records?

BalakrishnanGurumurti
BalakrishnanGurumurti

MR.PRESIDENT YOUR APPROACH OF WORKING WITH CONGRESS IS WELCOME PROPOSITION AFTER ALL PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE AND THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY STRIPS. UNNECESSARY HARASSMENT IS NO GOOD. TRUST VITAL IN ANYTHING. SUSPICIONS QUANTUM MUST BE PRUNED!

BruceS78
BruceS78

Neither the right, the left, the President nor Congress, has anything to be proud of in this scandal.  The real scandal is allowing any political action group, whether conservative or liberal, to have tax exempt status.  None of these groups meet the criteria of a tax exempt organization.  They are only trying to hid the names of their donors.  Congress should immediately enact legislation to either explicitly allow political action groups to be tax exempt or explicitly deny tax exempt status to them.

Also, I don't think the whining by the time the IRS takes to grant tax exempt status is all that long.  About 15 years ago, my wife and a group of nurses formed a group to provide education to nurses.  it took us something like 8 months to work through all of the issues that the IRS had before this group was granted tax exempt status.  It wasn't even a controversial group.

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

The right is trying so hard to make a scandal out of this. From what I've gathered, both sides have done this repeatedly throughout our history and now that a Democrat President decides to stick his neck out and "do something about it" the right feels the need to shout scandal and impeachment? I think some people have their priorities messed up.

americanpatriot
americanpatriot

wait until some of these irs employees are looking at 10 to 20 years in prison,somebody will spill their guts and start squealing like a stuck pig.

terryclifton1
terryclifton1

My prediction is that Miller will be the only one to lose his job. If those "rogue" agents are fired or prosecuted, the whole train goes off the tracks for Obama. The scandal no way this doesn't reach the top of the governmental food chain, and it's going to be interesting how much the public gets to know before this train wreck finishes. I've already read articles stating from those "rogue" agents that they were only doing what their bosses told them to do. Who directed their bosses to start the witch hunt on conservative group? Also, who leaked private tax information to liberal special interest groups, news outlets, and bloggers?

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

What is the big deal. Misusing the IRS is as much a White House tradition as the south portico. Jfk and bobby used it to investigate nixon bro Donald. A decade later nixon got his revenge by using it to investigate and harass enemies. Bush is rumored to have used it to harass certain types of religious groups. This sort of thing is as old as the hills. Republicans are just desperate because they know Obumbly is too smart to ever really mess up, and they were mentally prepared to go only four years without a white president, not eight.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@JohnEvos So unlike 2004 the President acknowledged that this was unacceptable and demanded resignations. And when this was done in 2004 we heard crickets.

SBAllen
SBAllen

@ZacPetit It IS a scandal. Did you not see that an organization illegal investigated someone? The IRS is not supposed to investigate groups at all; it just COLLECTS taxes. You liberals are disgusting.

reallife
reallife

@ZacPetit  ah  so now the president was the one that brought all this out? what a courageous guy! and he fixed it too! wow! 


is this the 11th or 12th version of the White House  "talking points"?


LOL 


mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@terryclifton1And what happened with the scandal in 2004 when the IRS were threatening the Tax Exempt status of organization opposed to Bush? Last time I checked it was swept under the rug with no one being held accountable. That is the major difference between the two administrations, they both have problems and yet only one steps up and takes accountability. Plus no it looks like the same thing was happening to Progressive 501C organizations in Texas.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/05/15/read_the_irs_s_irritating_requests_for_a_liberal_group_in_texas.html

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/14/when_the_irs_targeted_liberals/

jmac
jmac

@mantisdragon91 Maddow reported tonight that the only group  denied tax-exemption status was a liberal group. 

La_Randy
La_Randy

@mantisdragon91 And then there is this:

"But Miller is a scapegoat in the most pure and classic sense. The acting commissioner was not running the IRS at the time employees improperly targeted Tea Party groups — that would be Bush-appointee Doug Shulman, who resigned as commissioner last year — and Miller’s name isn’t mentioned a single time in the Treasury Department inspector general’s report. Indeed, there is no evidence that Miller was in any way responsible, involved or even aware of the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups by underlings. He is falling on his sword for something he did not do."

BJ1017
BJ1017

@mantisdragon91 @JohnEvos So, that's your argument? "Well the previous president did it too!". What a weak argument. The current president should not be blamed for doing something wrong because previous presidents did the same? Come on.

It's a shame that nobody is principled anymore.  People only care  about if their "side" wins the debate.  

curt3rd
curt3rd

So you are okay with eveything he stated above? You wanna call someone a hypocrite. start with yourself

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

@SBAllen @ZacPetit If it's a scandal then it was a scandal when it happened under Bush as well. You can't have it be an outrage only when your friends are the ones getting screwed.

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

@reallife @ZacPetit Feel free to find where I said he fixed it, or where I said he was "the one that brought all of this out."

The President doesn't get credit for bringing the scandal to light, but he does get credit for his appropriate response, which is all we can really expect.

curt3rd
curt3rd

That is the major difference between the two administrations, they both have problems and yet only one steps up and takes accountability.

Are you kidding me?  The only thing out of this administrations mouth is either "I dont kow or it is Bush fault."

outsider
outsider

@mantisdragon91 @terryclifton1 


Nothing happened in '04 - but you're forgetting the golden rule, Mantis: it's ok if you're a republican. 

That's why it's wrong now, but it was ok then. 


Right Terry?

reallife
reallife

@jmac @mantisdragon91 oh ok if Rachel says it it's good enough for me  - never mind everybody - forget everything - nothing to see here

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@La_Randy @mantisdragon91 That is actually not accurate. It looks like Miller has been aware of the problem for over a year and never reported it, hence the resignation. I'd rather not stoop to GOP levels and deny facts to prove my point.

r0ck
r0ck

@mantisdragon91 You again?  What is in the past is in the past.  Quit living there.  We can't fix THAT problem but we can fix this problem.  

curt3rd
curt3rd

The commish was schedule to to leave already.  This is busuness as usual. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd So then what is your issue. He stood up and took accountability. A lesson the GOP has yet to learn.

curt3rd
curt3rd

What are talking about?  Did I say anything about the prez comment?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd For pointing out that the President stood up and said this is wrong and won't be tolerated? What would you prefer he say?

curt3rd
curt3rd

Im not taking up for anyone.  The only Hypocrisy here is you

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd Just pointing Hypocrisy when I see it Curt. The president got up and said this is wrong and needs to stop. In the past it was a wink, a nod and a pat on the head.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Remind me who is in office and has been for the last 5 years and let me know when he starts to take responsibility.  All you ever do is talk about Bush when Bush has nothing to do with the current scandal or cover up.  Time to start thinking about the problems we are and need to be dealing with right now and stop living in a fantasy world.

outsider
outsider

@curt3rd  

This isn't bush's fault anymore than it is obama's. 

But Obama acted; bush didn't. That's a fact. 

outsider
outsider

@curt3rd  

You didn't answer his question regarding who resigned in '04. 

You started to criticize his mentioning bush; is that because you know that it's indefensible? If not, simply state who stood up and did what Obama did - not only condemn it, but force out a person who wasn't even responsible.


That isn't even taking into account the person who actually made the decision had already left the IRS. 


Nor the fact that liberal groups were investigated too.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Im not ignoring the past but I do choose to acknowledge the present and the future.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd And our current problems arise from past actions. Only a fool or a zealot ignores how we got to this point. Which are you?

curt3rd
curt3rd

I get it. Its Bush fault. Stop beating a dead horse.  Im only pointing out current problems

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd And every post you make pretends that our problems sprang up fresh and new the day Obama came into office. Take your own advice.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Every post you make on this site has to do with Bush or his administration.  We have new problems needing solving. Grow up

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd So yet again when we were threatening churches that preached against the Iraq war with loss of their Tax Exempt Status. Who resigned when it was brought to light?

La_Randy
La_Randy

@mantisdragon91 @La_Randy I am not so sure, as mentioned in this article, the Treasury Report was the determining factor in the decision. My belief is that a full investigation is needed then action taken and as you pointed out it was not only tea party groups that were targeted.

I don't believe I am denying any facts, but I am willing to learn if you can provide proof of yours.

outsider
outsider

@r0ck 


Well if the past is past, then drop this, cause it happened last year. 

How about that?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@r0ck Seeing as Progressive 501c Groups were targeted in Texas in 2012 its not even the past. So what other excuse have you got for your sham of a party?

jmac
jmac

@r0ck Will Republicans fix this problem?  About as quick as they'll vote for a Federal Shield Law on the AP problem.