The Note:Notes On A Scandal

Susan Walsh/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • PUSH FOR A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: According to a new Quinnipiac University national poll released today, U.S. voters favor appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups by a 76 percent to 17 percent margin. The support even runs high among Democrats, with 63 percent in favor compared to 30 percent opposed. "There is overwhelming bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said. "Voters apparently don't like the idea of Attorney General Eric Holder investigating the matter himself, perhaps because they don't exactly think highly of him. Holder gets a negative 23 - 39 percent job approval rating."
  • TEA PARTY GROUPS FILE SUIT: At least the third tea party-affiliated organization alleging unfair scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of tea party and conservative groups against the IRS, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and various IRS officials, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, said, "The IRS and the federal government are not going to get away with this unlawful targeting of conservative groups … As this unconstitutional scheme continues even today, the only way to stop this flagrant and arrogant abuse of our clients' rights is to file a federal lawsuit, which we have done," Sekulow, who worked as a tax trial attorney in the 1980s in the Office of the Chief Counsel for the IRS, said in a statement. "The lawsuit sends a very powerful message to the IRS and the Obama Administration, including the White House: Americans are not going to be bullied and intimidated by our government." Of the 25 groups the ACLJ is representing, 13 organizations received tax-exempt status after what they say were "lengthy delays," 10 are still pending and two withdrew applications because of what they say was frustration with the IRS process.
  • THE PROBES CONTINUE: While members of the House of Representatives and Senate enjoy that weeklong vacation from legislative business to celebrate the holiday in their districts this week, back on Capitol Hill the investigations into the administration's trio of potential mishaps continue unabated, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON notes. Yesterday, two senior members of the House Judiciary committee wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing "great concern" regarding his congressional testimony earlier this month in which he said he did not involve himself with DOJ's decision to acquire a search warrant to obtain communications records from journalists. Also yesterday, the House Ways and Means committee announced plans to hold a hearing next Tuesday featuring representatives from conservative organizations that were targeted by the IRS. That event is in addition to a previously announced hearing on the same topic at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, where the newly appointed Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel will testify in his new capacity for the first time alongside Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.
  • THE PEOPLES' PRIORITIES: Of the three scandals that have rocked the Obama administration over the last few weeks, today's Quinnipiac University poll finds that 44 percent of voters see the IRS probe as most important. Far fewer - 24 percent - say the inquiry over the terrorist attacks in Benghazi is the number one priority and 15 percent pick the seizure of phone records of Associated Press journalists. Still, voters by a 73 percent to 22 percent margin said that focusing on the economy and unemployment remains a higher priority than looking into the other three issues.


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The nomination of James Comey as the new director of the FBI will give the White House a reprieve over a confirmation hearing weighed down with questions about Benghazi. That was the fear if Lisa Monaco, the president's top counter-terrorism adviser, had been selected to lead the FBI. But tapping Comey opens the door to a time warp, taking Washington back a decade to a debate over eavesdropping, wiretapping and other policies of the Bush administration. Most of all, it will offer the latest test of whether bipartisanship is still alive and if this Republican nominee will have a smooth path to confirmation.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Perched above the Rhode Island State House is the famous Independent Man statue, channeling the spirit of Roger Williams and the flinty, sometimes quirky New England state he helped found. But the Ocean State is losing its independent man, in a strong statement on the continued power of the two-party system. Gov. Lincoln Chafee's decision to become a Democrat was at least a decade behind the ideology that drove it. But Chafee did everything he could to avoid this move; he could have kept his Senate seat, most likely, had he flipped parties in 2006, and the man named for Abraham Lincoln went the indie route rather than embrace a new party in winning the governor's office. Chafee is becoming a Democrat because of the promise of institutional party support, and because he has no realistic way of winning another three-way race for governor. Win one for the establishment…

ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: Though they attended fundraisers miles apart Wednesday evening, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama each sent a message about their commitment to achieving equality for the LGBT community. At the Democratic National Committee's LGBT Gala in New York City, the First Lady appeared alongside Jason Collins, who earlier this month became the first active player in the NBA to reveal he was gay. Mrs. Obama praised the NBA player's decision to publicly reveal he is gay, telling him she was "proud of your talent, your character, your courage." And at a Chicago fundraiser, the president chimed in as the Illinois state legislature prepares to consider same-sex marriage, an issue he said, "I deeply support."

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Ann Romney gave her first solo interview this morning talking to CBS News. She admitted that even when things weren't looking good on Election Night 2012, people were still telling her and her husband, Mitt Romney, to hold on including, Karl Rove. "He's like, 'Don't give up, don't give up. We are going to to win Ohio and it's going to turn around,' And things just didn't follow the way we thought it was going to happen." Mrs. Romney also said when asked about 2016 that she and Mitt are "very partial to Paul Ryan," but they don't know if he will run. And no hard feeling towards Christie saying, "Chris is a great guy." She said her husband has been keeping busy joining her on her at horseback riding competitions and they have stayed busy traveling together and she is "happy" and has "no regrets."


OBAMA TO NOMINATE JAMES COMEY TO LEAD FBI. President Obama is preparing to nominate James Comey, a former deputy attorney general in the President George W. Bush administration, as the next director of the FBI, although a formal announcement could be weeks away, sources with knowledge of the decision told ABC News. Comey served as deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005. If confirmed, Comey would succeed outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller, who has led the agency since 2001. Comey was serving as acting attorney general in 2004 when Attorney General John Ashcroft went into intensive care. During that time, Comey faced a tense standoff when White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales visited the ailing Ashcroft's hospital room to try to obtain reauthorization of the administration's terrorist surveillance program. Comey, 52, also threatened to resign from his post if the administration resumed wiretapping without the Justice Department's approval.

RICIN-LACED LETTERS SENT TO BLOOMBERG CONTAINED ANGRY NOTE OVER GUN CONTROL. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the latest high-profile target of poison-tainted letters sent though the mail, police revealed yesterday, ABC's JOSH MARGOLIN, BRIAN ROSS AND AARON KATERSKY report. The leader of the nation's largest city was threatened anonymously in two letters sent to Bloomberg's offices in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne said. An undisclosed number of New York cops who responded to one of the letters now "are being examined for minor symptoms of ricin exposure," but the potentially dangerous substance never reached the mayor. "The writer, in the letters, threatened Mayor Bloomberg, with references to the debate on gun laws," Browne said. Saying he has a "constitutional and God-given right and I will exercise that right 'til I die," the author warned that the government would have to kill him before he would relinquish his weapons, a source told ABC News. The letters - with identical text - were printed from a computer and are postmarked May 20 from Shreveport, La.

MICHELLE OBAMA ON JASON COLLINS: 'WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU'. First Lady Michelle Obama and Jason Collins, the first openly gay active player in the NBA, headlined a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee Wednesday evening in New York City, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. Speaking at the DNC's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership gala in New York City, Collins, who publicly revealed he was gay for the first time last month, called the first lady "a steadfast champion for LGBT families," who with her husband is working to convey that "the most important thing that defines a family is love." Collins said he hopes his announcement provides "courage to those still unsure about coming out and I hope it shows them the overwhelming amount of support that is waiting for them." "Jason, we are so proud of you. We are proud of your talent, your character, your courage, and we are so proud," the first lady said. The president and first lady both praised Collins when he publicly announced he was gay earlier this month. At the fundraiser, which included a performance by musician Sara Bareilles, the first lady lauded her husband and the LGBT community for striving to achieve equality for all.

DEMOCRATS WELCOME LINCOLN CHAFEE. President Obama rolled out the welcome mat for Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the Republican-turned-independent who now plans to affiliate with the Democrats before his 2014 re-election run, three Democratic sources told ABC News. "I'm delighted to hear that Governor Chafee is joining the Democratic Party," President Obama said in a statement issued through the Democratic National Committee. "For nearly 30 years, Linc Chafee has served his beloved Rhode Island as an independent thinker and leader who's unafraid to reach across party lines to get things done." ABC's CHRIS GOOD, JEFF ZELENY AND RICK KLEIN report that yesterday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, "Governor Chafee's been a longtime supporter of President Obama, and - not as a party member, but as a supporter of the president and his policies both - but I don't have any other response." Chafee's gubernatorial office in Rhode Island declined to comment. The governor dropped his affiliation with the Republican Party in 2007, after serving a single Senate term. He won office as a Republican in 2000, then was unseated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006. Chafee was elected governor as an independent in 2010.

MICHELE BACHMANN'S GREATEST HITS. Michele Bachmann's announcement that she will not seek reelection will remove from the House of Representatives one of its more controversial and colorful characters. The founder of the Tea Party caucus and a former Republican presidential candidate, Bachmann, in her eight years in Congress, has demonstrated a flair for drawing scrutiny from the media both for her staunch fiscal and social conservative views and for her often controversial, sometimes factually inaccurate statements, the way she would stand by them and her willingness to try to evade reporters on foot or by vehicle. Even as she gained notoriety as a fire starter of sorts, Bachmann's political career seemed stuck in the House. Bachmann's moment did come in the 2012 presidential primary campaign. ABC News first reported she was considering a run. And she conducted the first interview of her campaign with ABC's JONATHAN KARL in Iowa. She went on to win the Iowa Straw Poll, which had been considered to be a key indicator of a candidate's worth in the early caucus state. But her campaign flailed from there. She faced a touch challenge for reelection to the House after dropping out of the presidential race. Here's a look at some of the more notable quotes, better interviews and odd missteps of Michele Bachmann from ABC's Z. BYRON WOLF and the ABC News Political Unit:


@PounderFile: WaPo: "GOP pounces on McAuliffe over Virginia Democrat's claims on transportation bill" #VAGOV

@DavidMDrucker: Granting one of my rare Twitter "must-reads" to @ByronYork's intvw w/ @SenTedCruz on #immigration reform: …

@IAWatchdog: An Iowa court set Michele Bachmann's court date for May 14 of next year for election misconduct. #michelebachmann #iapolitics

@tackettdc: SCOOP: Zuckerberg political organization losing friends @bykowicz

@thegarance: "The GOP's recruitment struggles in Virginia and Colorado don't bode well for the party's long-term health."

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