Before IRS, some appetizers…
Vice President Wonka – Biden writes to boy ”…if we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier…” abcn.ws/12rS3o4
Nice – IRS Asks for Reading List, Tea Party Group Sends Constitution- http://abcn.ws/1031ieP (Abby Phillip, Jeff Zeleny)
April Surplus Brings Lower Deficit – AP - Even with the April surplus, the deficit for the full year will still be quite large: the Congressional Budget Office expects it will reach $845 billion when the budget year ends on Sept. 30. That would be down from $1.1 trillion in 2012 and the first annual deficit below $1 trillion since 2008. http://abcn.ws/10W7sJf
The news, however is breaking…
IRS IG Blames ‘Ineffective Management’ - Here, obtained by Jeff Zeleny, is the IRS IG report into the targeting of conservative groups.
We asked the Acting Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division; the Director, EO; and Determinations Unit personnel if the criteria were influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS. All of these officials stated that the criteria were not influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS. Instead, the Determinations Unit developed and implemented inappropriate criteria in part due to insufficient oversight provided by management. Specifically, only first-line management approved references to the Tea Party in the BOLO listing criteria before it was implemented. As a result, inappropriate criteria remained in place for more than 18 months. Determinations Unit employees also did not consider the public perception of using politically sensitive criteria when identifying these cases. http://abcn.ws/12yoHU1
Check back to the ABCNews.com/politics for a full write-up soon.
Scandal Confusion - Yahoo!’s Chris Moody reports: “At Rep. Steny Hoyer’s weekly meeting with reporters on Tuesday, the Maryland Democrat was asked if he was concerned about the DOJ seizing phone records from Associated Press journalists working in the House press gallery in the Capitol building. Hoyer’s answer was well-delivered: Articulate, clear, firm and precise. One problem: He responded to the wrong scandal.”
“(A) reporter sitting closer to Hoyer, Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich, learned over and said softly, “He’s talking about the AP story.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, excuse me,” Hoyer said, pausing briefly. “Whatever happened, we need to find out why it happened. But clearly it should not have happened. I don’t know enough about whether there was a warrant sought.” http://yhoo.it/18J6PKO
That’s kind of the way it feels this week. Jay Carney said the White House does not have a siege mentality at the moment. But he bounced a little like Peter Cottontail from topic to topic – Benghazi, the IRS, the DOJ’s inquiry at the AP.
New Details on Benghazi Emails – Jon Karl – The White House could still clear up this confusion by releasing the full e-mail transcripts that were provided for brief review by a select number of members of Congress earlier this year. If there’s “no ‘there’ there,” as President Obama himself claimed yesterday, a full release should help his case. http://abcn.ws/12sNgTt
Back to IRS – Abby Phillip and Shush Walshe have been owning this one…
FBI to Investigate IRS Targeting of Tea Party Groups- Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he had ordered an FBI investigation to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service broke any laws when it targeted conservative groups for closer scrutiny of their tax-exempt status. “I have ordered an investigation. … The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken,” Holder said. “I think as everyone can agree if not criminal, [those actions were] certainly outrageous and unacceptable.” http://abcn.ws/13vICFl
IRS Guilty of ‘Thuggish Abuse of Power,’ McConnell Says- The Internal Revenue Service’s explanations for why it targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny are falling on deaf ears in Congress, where lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are in no mood for what he called the agency’s “blatant and thuggish abuse of power.” The Kentucky Republican also questioned today whether some of the blame should fall at President Obama’s doorstep. http://abcn.ws/13Zgt98 (Abby Phillip)
Inquiries Came from More Than Just Cincinnati – But IRS workers aren’t talking, reports Shush Walshe and Josh Margolin – “When reached by ABC News at his office, this agent said he doesn’t “think I can talk to anyone on the outside,” adding, “I’d like to (talk) but I can’t,” and directing ABC News’ inquiries to the IRS’ public affairs office. The IRS has not responded to repeated requests from ABC News for interviews or to numerous questions about the ongoing scandal.” http://abcn.ws/18IZtqw (Walshe)
Who Was Seeking Tax Exempt Status? – Long before IRS scandal Nightline investigation into True the Vote’s 2012 voter id crusade http://abcn.ws/13vNsm3
What Did IRS Ask? – Weirdest IRS Questions for the Tea Party: Views, Donors, and Etymology- Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS asked tea party groups a whole lot of questions. As admitted by the IRS, and as detailed in a forthcoming Inspector General report, the agency targeted conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status for issue advocacy, a standard practice for political groups that aren’t mainly about elections. http://abcn.ws/19n6JG0 (Chris Good)
Holder Recused Himself from AP Terror Sweep – From Parnass and Good – Attorney General Eric Holder today said he was unable to answer questions about an investigation into an Associated Press story published a year ago that contradicted the White House’s claim that officials knew of no attacks planned on U.S. soil for the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. The FBI interviewed Holder in June 2012 as part of its investigation into national security leaks in the Obama administration because of his frequent interaction with the media. Holder said during a news conference today that he recused himself shortly after the start of the investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the deputy attorney general in charge. http://abcn.ws/11CvEb7
Pryor Signs Gay Marriage Bill Tuesday Night – http://abcn.ws/10MA2CM
Navy Launches Unmanned X-47B Aircraft From Carrier – ABC News abcn.ws/129p0UM
Mayoral Candidate Claims Jesus Endorsed Her- When North Miami voters get into the booth to vote for a new mayor today they will have to choose among a colorful cast of candidates, including a woman who claims she was endorsed by Jesus. Anna Pierre is likely the best known of the eight candidates vying to be mayor of this city of 60,000. She made headlines first for her claim that opponents had left dolls with needles at the front of her home, which she claims was an attempt to perform a voodoo hex against her. http://abcn.ws/11BYZlW (Seni Tienabeso)
Democrats, Republicans Can Agree About One Thing: Nationals’ Outfielder Bryce Harper- There’s not much the Senate Democrat and Senate Republican leaders agree on these days, but this morning they bonded over the one thing that apparently can bring them together: Bryce Harper. The Washington Nationals’ outfielder last night injured himself when he ran face-first into the fence while trying to catch a fly ball during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. http://abcn.ws/13vK8rb (Sunlen Miller)
At the Immigration Hearings, Jeff Sessions Stands Alone- The Alabama Republican and chief opponent of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill has found little success at the two recent hearings to consider amendments to said bill. That’s largely because members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” have been able to accomplish their stated goal of defeating amendments designed to gut this legislation, which include some from Sessions. http://abcn.ws/1296FqE (Jordan Fabian)
Republican Hispanic Outreach Official Becomes Democrat- A former Republican official from Florida who oversaw outreach to Hispanic voters is switching his party affiliation to Democrat. Pablo Pantoja, who served as a Hispanic outreach official with the Republican National Committee last year, said that the recent controversy over a Heritage Foundation researcher named Jason Richwine who claimed Hispanic immigrants have lower IQs than non-Hispanic white Americans sparked him to leave the GOP. http://abcn.ws/16xzvqP (Jordan Fabian)
Meet the Anti-Immigration All-Stars (an answer to the Gang of 8) - Fusion’s Ted Hesson writes: There’s a new immigration “gang” in Washington, folks. Eight Republicans in the House are banding together against immigration reform, and among their ranks is a veritable all-star team of “anti-amnesty” activists. The group is captained by Rep. Steve King (Iowa), the guy who once compared immigrants to dogs, and a long-time opponent of illegal immigration. Second in command is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). If his name sounds familiar, he’s the one who keeps us up to speed on “terror babies”and Islamic-jihadists-posing-as-Mexicans.
Defense Dept Furloughs Cut to 11 Days- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced today that the Department of Defense is reducing the number of furlough days for 680,000 of the Pentagon’s civilian employees to 11. The number of furlough days between now and the end of September is now half what had been projected early in the year when sequestration cuts kicked in. DoD cut the hours of the employees to accommodate across-the-board budget cuts prescribed in sequestration. http://abcn.ws/YHcpZO (Sarah Parnass, Luis Martinez)