Obama, Cameron Hope for Russian Pressure on Assad

A joint news conference addresses Syria, troops in Afghanistan and the world economy.
0:26 | 05/13/13

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Transcript for Obama, Cameron Hope for Russian Pressure on Assad
This is a special report from ABC news. Hello everyone I'm Tanya Rivero -- New York with an ABC news -- digital special report British prime minister David Cameron is in Washington DC this morning. Meeting with President Obama both men. We'll be speaking shortly at a joint news conference can -- -- empty podiums right there. They will be and they will be addressing Syria and the world economy however mr. Obama will likely also. Be facing some questions about the IRS scandal. Right now I'm gonna bring in ABC's political director Rick Klein to discuss what has the White House all flustered today good morning -- -- timing of his IRS story is only gotten bigger since the revelations came out on Friday we've learned of additional groups they've gotten scrutiny and these are tough questions for the White House right now because the idea at the higher arrest is playing politics in terms of who -- targets. This is it shades of Nixon and and the White House that it has been a little slow to wake up to the fact that this has potential. Other big outrage story and -- -- to get their heads around the fact that this is as big as it is and I think the president. Weighing in today will be a critical moments in this in the -- the scandal developed. That's right now as you said today ABC news found out that the -- targeting of these conservative groups with more expensive. Bennett admitted to before what exactly what the IRS doing -- So the regional office in Cincinnati Ohio which happens to be charged with looking at the someone -- got the idea -- way back -- 2010 by the way. That there -- this is -- of all these organizations that -- forming under things called Tea Party you're using words like patriot 912 was another buzzword that's opening Glenn Beck has me. Quite prominent. And so someone of that -- this we don't know exactly who at this point decided we're gonna flag groups that have any of those kind of keywords in the names. And give put into the -- -- basically have them. Jump through some additional requirements asked them for additional information about their donors about their activities none of these groups ended up having their tax exempt status revoked but. The idea that they would be pressured just because of names and their titles that were politically motivated. I think rubs a lot of people including the IRS and the president as something that is far -- appropriate that we don't know anything that similar that happened on the other side that weren't liberal groups that were targeted like this where they went just after these conservative Tea Party -- group but we know how far the chain of command this went. We don't and one of the problems in this is that the IRS has been essentially leaderless for the last couple of years the -- -- it now is a bush appointee. President Obama's never had its own person at the Helm of the IRS we don't know how far went up the food chain we do know that there were top officials who were aware of this as far back as 2011. Now -- fast forward to 2012 there were made numerous Republican congressman who we're hearing back from some of these Tea Party groups in their districts are saying hey look. -- -- harassed by the IRS here they were pressing for answers even Democrats on -- pressing for answers. They never got answers to the balance of the 2012 campaign it wasn't until last Friday six months after the election. The -- finally fessed up to this so the fact that leaders knew about this in 2011. Weren't answering questions about the 2012 and only now coming to terms with the fact that -- indeed happen under their watch extremely problematic believes that the IRS. And -- just today White House spokesman Jay Carney released a statement I'll read part of it. The president believes that the American people expect and deserve to have the very best public servants with the highest level of integrity working in government agencies on their behalf. Based on recent media reports he's concerned the conduct of a small number of internal revenue service employees. May have fallen short of that standard at the end of the statement goes on to say the president expects swift and appropriate steps will be taken to address. Any misconduct -- -- here there's clearly no denial of the misconduct. There is not and it's also us a bit of a change from Friday when the when the White House was asked about the story originally they said the president's concerned about it but keep in mind the IRS. Is a separate enforcement agency it's not under direct purview. Of the federal government but if you look at the food chain the IRS reports up to the Treasury Department which reports up to the president. Ultimately the president as the head of the executive branch is responsible. So I think we'll see him get more forceful -- imagine if he's asked about -- the news conference coming up in a few minutes he'll be even more forceful in his condemnation of this. It's that kind of thing it doesn't matter if you're Democrat or Republican shore or conservative you don't wanna see the IRS play politics the idea that the IRS is involved in that could be involved -- that -- artsy guards. It to make sure that it never happens. Very very troubling for so -- in -- Absolutely and that that will not sit well with hardly anyone in this country that. Rick I want to ask you first thing -- and now this scandals on its heels with the IRS the Republican Party. Is clearly outraged at this moment with the White House how to these issues. Affected the already troubled -- partisanship on the hill. Something weird happens and second terms and it seems to be the time in -- presidency where. Lots of things and coalesce and all of a sudden a million different congressional investigations so the idea you have these two huge story lines out there think -- and it's IRS story. Coming at the same time it's going to eat up so much political oxygen. At a time that the president frankly is gasping for -- he's looking to find. Anything in this in this sweet spot of legislative window that's left in his in his second term try to get things done try to get a group together on immigration try to get gun control -- again try to get a big budget deal. All those things can happen on a separate track and those that process will play itself out. But the president I think with the eroding of his credibility on on on these issues and his leadership -- -- Ghazi is leadership. Tangentially on IRS. And now the Republicans with their calls from multiple investigations that's a problem and the White House I think is beginning to realize that after first kind of -- -- these. These investigations office politically motivated they realize particularly in the case of this IRS story. This is about a lot more than politics. Absolutely and as you were saying earlier senior officials that apparently know about it for quite some time since about August 4 2011. -- that rhetoric. So -- again the question now becomes who was the highest level official to know about it. That is that is the question is something that congress is gonna want the answer to particularly because. The acting head of the IRS -- -- -- was there in front of congress last here's a -- know anything about this and any any information about. This happening so how far up did it go. This is on the IRS was trying to -- these -- low level. Career appointees and appointees if -- career employees of the IRS these weren't political appointees the more political folks in Washington they were. At the regional office in Cincinnati -- try to contain this to a small and as low level of group is possible. But again it raises all sorts of questions about how this happens. What kind of safeguards there -- you'd think they would be. Multiple stops along the way before you dismiss this suddenly trigger audits and day and additional scrutiny of all groups just based on the title -- for me -- any documents. That is a big problem if a low level employee can say anyone that has the -- Tea Party and it. We are going to send them paperwork we're gonna make them. Put up with additional requirements give us more documentation than ever before just because of their names that -- something I think -- just -- shocking to a lot of. Now -- I'm not a tax lawyer but what exactly do these organizations have to prove to. Be eligible for tax exempt status. I'm not that's -- that McCain it's actually quite a motorist -- -- to prove exactly what you're doing here because so many of these groups. Basically to be a not for profit with the tax exempt status you can't have it in overt political purpose you can't have direct contact with candidates you can't be giving money to support candidates you can't be. Involved in overt politics the problem is that so much of what these -- do. Is politics -- by a slightly different name than Karl Rove group for instance American crossroads expense all this money supporting and opposing candidates they also have a not for profit -- principals being walled off from all of that there's only about education it's only about. Providing more information and networking for folks so a lot of these groups that formed and this is a chaotic period. Happening -- that the Tea Party movement really strong from nothing in the summer of 2009. By early 2010 they're starting to turn their eyes to politics so you have all these groups there are calling themselves Tea Party something -- patriots something or other. There including lots of buzz words that were familiar with in a political context now it was all foreign at the time. And there -- people that that didn't have a lot of experience with -- sort of thing they're trying to form these organizations the IRS I think rightfully was concerned about this proliferation of groups. And they've been looking for ways to be. More involved in in vetting these organizations -- sure they are divorced from politics and so what what the IRS apparently getting these cases was the sends letters to them and asked them for their donor lists for instance any contacts that they had had with candidates. Going back some time even if they have -- information provided. They certainly should be able to provide -- if they were true to their mission. It was an onerous task to ask a brand new organization. To fulfill it had the echoes of politics from the star -- -- -- for a while was the denials that there was any possibility of this happening. And it wasn't until last week that we learn that indeed it happens in some 30200. Cases. And Rick not to overshadow the other world leader who -- speaking this morning let's. Let's talk a little bit about prime minister David Cameron and the scrutiny he also faces at home -- his party wants a referendum to leave the European Union. But he wants to delay it until 2017. What -- pressures that he's under right now. We'll prime minister trying to put this off as much as possible there was a lot of pressure over the over the EU a lot of lot of concerns -- is essentially falling apart. I'm not too many months ago for the prime minister he's got the he's got the British economy in a much better spot right now he is trying to put that off it's been such a polarizing issue particularly in Britain -- more than any other EU country. About membership in the European Union we've seen these financial crises that have popped up in different EU states that it. Affected the member states that have been more responsible so to speak with their finances -- a lot of domestic political pressures -- on him. And of course the other big issue that the two of them are talking about right now is Syria there are no good options right now for the international coalition is trying to get something done. We've got several weeks now since the President Obama has said publicly that he believes chemical weapons were used. We're not clear yet who use them and that was the Red Line note that once it was crossed it would. Ratchet things up into a nether realm of of the US response. That the British are key allies -- trying to figure out what to do about Syria. So the investigation continues into the use of these chemical weapons one -- exams. Yes that -- it's very much the case and we've had we've had other people come out and say -- which side is actually using the chemical weapons. What exactly it means to be crossing the Red Line yes US investigators we believe are still trying to figure out exactly how the chemical weapons were used they have ascertained they've said publicly that they were used but who use them what were they trying to do. And then of course if we were to get involved militarily what do you do exactly right get involved and -- -- do in terms -- terms of lethal aid and actually forces. And who are these rebels exactly are they you know there is growing concern that extremists may be involved does not right. That's that's exactly -- -- to know exactly what side you're getting on it was an interesting exchange I thought yesterday. On this week Martha Raddatz asking John McCain that question very pointed fashion how do you know who they are exactly what the -- the -- who were the good guys so to speak. In this -- and John McCain -- I've met with -- I know what you're talking about large scale mobilization of assets into a region you don't know for sure right going to be getting it and that's a very. Key question who are you supporting what of their intentions. And you know that they're going to be moving toward the same -- that you -- the united saint. And how involved do you get in that process and prime minister David Cameron recently met with Russian president Vladimir Putin and he thinks it's possible in peace conference. When might help to trying to end the conflict but no date set but what is -- Russia's stance here now. Russia can be totally critical on this and in the their relationship with Syria a lot different than. The other allies who were involved in this and it really seen is the breaking point potentially if the Russians. -- to give up in some way I thinks the conventional wisdom is still that they -- -- -- outside brokers sort of way. Enough credibility with folks in the region and elsewhere in terms of trying to set something up. But they don't have a good option here either and they've had a harder time standing by the aside -- as time has gone by. If -- that the Russian relations have been not have been affected a bit by the -- the fact that that that marathon bombing happened in the middle of all of this a couple of weeks ago there's been a lot of intelligence. Sharing that's happened and Aaron most analysts into the that was a high point of US Russian relations although it also exposed some lingering mistrust between that the two one time rivals. Absolutely and -- also on the agenda today is the US and the UK economic. Relationship traditionally it very strong one goes back a long way both leaders will be heading to NORTHERN IRELAND in a month for the G-8 summit that looks as though. Both countries are looking to increase trade with each other and a weak European Union how much could this help the world economy. Well I think this. This trip will be an interesting one that the president's trip to Europe the European Union and -- -- European allies so important to the world economy. And the president -- -- really it's been an underserved part of his agenda from the start to try to strengthen relationships with Europe. That's really never been a weak spot we haven't had to worry about our allies in that region. Either obviously wasted to get things going again -- the US is taken as a cautionary tale what's happened some of these European countries but it will be a very closely watched trip noted no doubt about that. -- how likely is the president to answer questions on the -- scandal today do you think -- try to -- it at this time. -- -- Mountain might read on this knowing how the White House came out on this is that they're gonna wanna tackle it instantly it depends on what they're asked and and the guys will not be a full fledged press conference. Typically it's just a couple questions for each side but if he's asked about this and on advising him right now I want to dive into this because. This has the potential this is a huge outrage factor that could be directed the president. At his administration that is not what he wants that's not what he can afford right now and -- it the president and once famously said that. The former president -- in the you know good -- with this new job you've got right now you're gonna get blamed for. Dumb thing that Ireland and every federal agency to some extent that's true but you can see why in a case like this that would be assisted or that this is larger than a field office in the middle of Ohio -- because these are such hotly charged political issues because the Tea Party movement. There's been such a big story of the Obama years. The hint that it having Tea Party in your name was enough to trigger additional scrutiny is of being a big problem and if the president and no reason to believe that he. And had any knowledge of -- -- that is the case -- wanna say that. I don't want to say that heads are gonna roll by find out that anyone here play politics with taxes this is an issue the -- even joked about this in the past few -- -- it's been a punch line it's at times in speeches to say. You know look at -- say the wrong thing about being the IRS on -- Nixon talked about this extensively and thinks he was actually doing it. At the time using the IRS as a political arm. That is being so far from politics for a long time but I'll tell you this only people out there that are worried about that worried about the Big Brother mechanisms worried about. The possibility of the federal government playing politics on something as fundamentalists taxes. That the president's gonna wanna have to get out front -- right. Absolutely absolutely and it looks a little bit at the relationship between prime minister Cameron and President Obama what has barely -- have been to date. A strong by all accounts -- looking he came in it in a much different way -- Prime minister Cameron much more on the conservative end of things -- -- the political. Lines are quite a bit different in the two countries. But I think they've got along pretty well for the present Obama has not someone who's got a a warm and Fuzzy relationship really without with many people out there and to some extent. The in the way that that that Cameron came on as this dynamic new leader had echoes of Obama but they came from different spots in the political spectrum I think -- since Cameron has been in office it's it's gotten stronger right we've seen that play out. In some public photos as well as in what we've learned about their private conversation. And a -- going back to Tony Blair what was the relationship there. That is Tony Tony Blair was someone is that it would seem famously close to several different American presidents came in. The same generation and the same kind of strain a kindred spirits. -- Bill Clinton from that relationship it morphed into something different with George W. Bush they ended up being quite close as well we'll remember. Blair taking a lot of heat back home over the wars -- being called Bush's portal his. Advocacy for the Iraq War was. Very critical of the time to. To getting the international community on board it wasn't just an American war when Tony Blair. Was involved as well so you did the fact that he was able from the work that relationship of these two very different presidents I think -- a fascinating case study in in leadership. Absolutely and I don't -- talk a little bit about the reaction on the hill and you've been hearing went obviously there's two issues right now facing the Obama administration they have to deal -- immediately. The -- -- the an IRS. A little differently I'm wondering if you're feeling more -- a bipartisan outrage over the IRS than over the Ben -- situation. I think that is it definitely asked and I think the the IRS situation is something that cuts across party lines. It is just more relatable -- basic level think Ozzy is terrible tragedy. But it's gotten so makes up in the politics of the moment in part because it happened right before the election. Hillary Clinton's involvement there's so much they -- that immediately became political and then now we learned the talking points that were edited for apparently political. Purposes -- -- arrest stories different I arrest rate cuts through all of that and -- -- This is potentially the your federal government is treating your taxes differently if you're -- liberal or you're conservative so. I think -- whether you're Democrat or Republican it's very hard to defend the IRS I haven't heard anyone jump to their defense right now and say what -- it would doing is right in you'll complain a lot about. These these. So -- 501 C four groups he's not for profit groups that sometimes -- the playing politics they realize that this is bad and I think. You're seeing more Democrats dial up the outrage on this in part respond to -- -- constituents because this is something. That is -- fundamentalists -- American you don't think your taxes are going to be subjected to and he kind of political scrutiny do you foresee hearings on Capitol -- over this are people going to be dragged out different committees. Many many hearings this night is my bold prediction on this if this is going to get the full Washington treatment -- -- probably deserves our full blown scandal. No doubt about it. And I think a lot of questions from the IRS about how high up this went when exactly they knew about it whether they ever misled congress. To what extent that leadership vacuum played a role in this -- kinda safeguards they had in place to prevent this. -- -- and how they were able to say so quickly and so easily that politics did not play a role in this decision that these are just lower level employees when. These were politically charged names added that were being subject to additional scrutiny. To be able to just say that outright they haven't proven that by any stretch of the imagination right now they have -- able to demonstrate. Why they are confident that politics in playable hadn't been able to demonstrate that anyone was held to account for that so. I think they're going to be multiple investigations that'll take some time to get to the bottom of this. And and -- also predicting that a lot of unsatisfactory answers from the IRS office. At its core this is just an issue that's hard to defend absolutely -- an there are top Democrats on percent of parents tracked. That's exactly right -- -- hasn't quite seen that kind of bipartisan support and our. -- top Democrats Max Baucus is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and he is a Democrat senator Carl Levin Democrat from Michigan as the -- of their oversight. Panel in the senate they are both calling for investigations of this and on the Republican side Eric Cantor -- -- the house majority leaders take any personal interest in this. -- has in the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell they all want to have answers on this in one of the things that it's worth noting here is that. They were raising concerns about this McConnell for instance gave a speech last year we talked about Tea Party groups. That we're getting additional scrutiny from the IRS people dismiss -- at the time is just the conspiracy theory. That was being advanced by some some small scale groups clearly it's a lot more than that. Wright was going on at -- time -- whether people knew about it before the election is also relevant to this. Now I would imagine that some heads will definitely world Marco Rubio apparently is asking the Treasury Secretary. To demand the resignation of the IRS commissioner I'm sure there will be some people losing jobs over this. Ivan imaginable come to that and I think you saw that in the in the White House statement today. A bit of a softer soft called in to say people -- gonna get fired but that was the clear implication that people have to be held to account for this. As of now we don't know of anyone who lost their job there was even reprimanded -- a serious way based on these actions that clearly there's going to be pressure for that to change. And going back to -- got -- -- for a moment to do you think there will be calls for. For instance Hillary Clinton to come back and testify again. -- we're beginning to hear that senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina has been one of the leading Republican critics on the -- Ghazi Ferris said that he needs the senior come back. We also had the senator Rand Paul come out and say. Not the politics plays a role in this that that she's unfit to hold. Higher office ever again so yes -- will definitely be called for Hillary Clinton's return to Capitol Hill based on the revelations from that whistle blower at the compound in Libya it rather in Libya. Last week in addition to the -- talking points that is new information and I think the former secretary of state is going to be asked about all that. And Rick all of these issues -- how will they affect the bipartisan efforts for immigration reform. -- is this all likely to be on hold or will this go forward on the side. Glad I think -- might -- not like. This in congress can walk and chew gum at the same time but it's really hard for them to do it and if they can just walk or just chew -- -- much more likely to do that so. It is conceivable that you have a legislative path that he continues totally unimpeded regard and then there's all these scandals that are being investigated in congressional hearings. Those things can happen inside the same building at the same time no question about that. But practically speaking the president's leadership has to be divvied up in certain ways and he has to be out there talking about using a particular day. A platform to do things take Friday as a example the president. Without making any announcement about the Health Care Reform bill's implementation. Nobody paid a single word of attention to that because you had been -- -- the story and the IRS story happening in split screen elsewhere in the city that day. So it on a larger scale that's the concern right now for the White House and I don't think they have a full strategy for dealing with -- they obviously have to put out a bunch of fires on this side at the same time they're going to be starting things over on this side. And it is just so tenuous right now none of these pieces of legislation on a glide path to mention immigration reform. Yes there's a lot of folks if elected -- -- in this ways -- this can work but there's also a lot of skepticism. About whether this that whether this is gonna happen quickly or they can happen at all when you see the push back self. It gives people that are inclined to be opposed another reason to do wit and eats up a lot of precious a precious time in congress when you're talking about all these scandals that. Absolutely and and as you said -- is just a certain window in the second term to get some stuff done and you want to remain as focused -- -- -- -- -- that senator Susan Collins. Said it's disturbing quote that President Obama Treasury Secretary Jack -- have not personally apologize to the American people. And promised a full investigation outwit we'll talk about that moment but here -- President Obama and and David Cameron. -- -- -- -- -- And to all our moms out there that want -- Mother's Day. It's always great pleasure to welcome my friend or prime minister David Cameron. Michelle I have wonderful memories from when this man -- business. Us last year. There was a lot of attention. Two marchment. Went to Ohio and a year later we have to confess that -- still -- not understand basketball. I still do not understand cricket. As we've said before the great alliance between the United States the United Kingdom. Is rooted in shared interests and shared values and it's indispensable to the global security and prosperity. But as we've seen again recently it's also a partnership of the heart. Here in the United States we joined two our British friends mourning the passing -- burn us Margaret Thatcher for great champion of freedom and liberty and of the alliance of -- carry on today. After the bombings -- ball we Americans were grateful for the support of friends around the world. Particularly those across the Atlantic -- the London marathon runners -- In a moment of silence and -- -- of the race to Boston and David will be visiting Boston to pay tribute to victims and first responders. So David I want to thank you and the British people for reminding us that in good times and the bad -- two people stand as one. But David's here first and foremost as he prepares to host the G-8 next month. For -- him. Updating me on the agenda as it takes shape. And we discussed how the summit will be another opportunity to sustain. The global economic recovery with a focus on growth and creating jobs for -- people. Michelle -- are looking forward to visiting NORTHERN IRELAND and I -- -- -- it's going to be great success under David's fine leadership. We discussed the importance of moving ahead with the EU. Towards negotiations on the trans Atlantic trade and investment partnership. Our extensive trade with the the UK is central to our rather. Are broader transatlantic. Economic relationship which supports more than thirteen million jobs. I want to thank David for -- strong support for building on those times when I look forward to launching negotiations with the EU in the coming months. I believe we've got a real opportunity to cut tariffs and open markets create jobs and make all of our economy is even more competitive. -- regard to global secure. We reviewed progress in Afghanistan -- our troops continue to serve an extraordinary courage alongside each other. I want to commend David for his efforts to encourage greater dialogue between Afghanistan and -- -- which is critical to regional security. As planned Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the country soon this spring. US British and coalition forces little move into a support role. Our troops will continue to come home from the war -- end -- by the end of next year -- -- as we work with our Afghan partners. To make sure that Afghanistan has never again a haven for terrorists who would attack our nation's. Given our shared commitment to Middle East peace and I updated David on secretary -- efforts with the Israelis and Palestinians in the importance of moving towards negotiations. And we -- -- reaffirmed our support for democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa including -- economic reforms that have to go along with. Political reforms. Of course it's just. We discuss Syria and the appalling violence being inflicted. On the Syrian people together we're gonna continue our efforts to increase pressure on the Asad regime. Provide humanitarian aid to. The long suffering Syrian people to strengthen the moderate opposition and to prepare for a democratic. Syria without. -- The regime and the opposition in Geneva in the coming weeks to agree on a transitional body which. Would allow a transfer. Of power from Assad to this governing body. Meanwhile we'll continue to work to establish the facts -- on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and those facts will help guide our next steps. We -- Toronto where we agreed to keep up the pressure on Tehran for its continued failure to abide by its nuclear obligations. The burden is on Iran to engage constructively with us and our. And finally today were reaffirming our commitment to global develop. Specifically were encouraged by the ambitious reforms. Underway the global fund to fight aids TB and malaria -- we're both of our nations are stepping up our efforts and Davids made it clear that. The G-8 summit will be another opportunity to make progress on nutrition and food security so David thank you very much as always for the leadership annual partnership. As we prepare for -- work in NORTHERN IRELAND. As we consider. The challenges we face around the world it's clear we face demanding agenda but if the history of our -- -- think it is that we persevere. As one of those one runners. The marathon we're gonna keep running and we're gonna keep on doing us. That's the spirit of confidence and resolve that we will continue to draw on as we work together to meet these -- so David thank you very much and -- Thank you -- Iraq and thank you fooled warm welcome it's great to be back here with the in the White House thank you -- -- -- by Margaret Thatcher it was a pleasure to. Welcome so many Americans to. Remarkable funeral UK. I -- Judy Hackett what you said about the appalling outrage in Boston on -- to getting that. Pay my tribute to the people of that remarkable city and -- courage and we will always stand with the in the fight against terrorism. Thank you for a the remarks -- the crickets in the possible. I haven't made much progress amid a bit of -- -- that she read a book about -- this he has well maybe next time we'll get to come -- -- that one. It's good to be back for the first time. Since the American people return -- to office and as you -- the relationship between Britain and the United States is a partnership without power. Day in -- across the world -- diplomats and intelligence agencies work together. Our soldiers -- together and -- businesses trade with the job. In Afghanistan -- armed forces are together defending the stability that will make us all safe. And in the global economic race businesses doing more than seventeen billion dollars of trade across the Atlantic every month of every year. And in a changing world on nations -- a resolve to stand up for democracy. Enterprise and for freedom. We've discussed many issues today as the president has said that behind -- three. The economy the G-8 and Syria. Our greatest challenge is to secure a sustainable economic recovery. Each of us has to find the right solutions at home. For all of us it means dealing with debt it means restoring stability getting our economy growing and to get -- seizing new opportunities to grow our economies. President of Auburn on both championed a free trade deal between the European Union and the United States. And as a real chance -- to get the process launched in time for the G-8. So the next five weeks are crucial. To realize the huge benefits this deal could bring we'll take ambition and political will. That means everything on the table even the difficult issues and no exceptions. It's worth the effort. For Britain Ireland and an ambitious deal could be worth up to ten billion -- -- -- Boosting industries from -- -- -- manufacturing. To financial services. We discussed the G-8 summit in some detail. When we meet on the shoals of -- -- in NORTHERN IRELAND five weeks from today I want us to agree ambitious action full economic growth. Open trade isn't the heart of this that we have a broader agenda to. To make -- everyone sheds in the benefits of this great openness not -- an -- advanced economies but in the developing world to. I'm and I'm ashamed of any pro business politician. But as we open up our economy is to get business growing. We need to make sure that all companies pay that tax is property and enable citizens holding governments and businesses to attack. Today we've agreed to tackle the scourge of tax invasion. We need to know who really owns a company profits from it with a tax is -- paid. And we need a new mechanism to track where multinationals make them money when they pay their taxes so we can -- -- of manipulating the system. -- -- Finally we discussed the brutal conflict in Syria. 80000 dead five million people forced from a news Syria's history is being written in the blood of how people. And it is happening on I'll watch. The world urgently needs to come together to bring the killing to an end. None of us have any interest in seeing more lives lost in seeing chemical weapons used or extremist violence spreading even. So we welcome president Putin's agreement to join an effort to achieve a political solution the challenges remain formidable. But we have an urgent window of opportunity before the worst fears are realized there is no more urgent international tossed in this. We need to get experience to the table to agree a transitional government that can win the consent of -- the Syrian people. But there will be no political progress in -- the opposition is able to withstand the home school and put pressure on us -- -- -- is there isn't a military victory. So we will also increase our efforts to support and to shake the moderate opposition. Britain is pushing for more flexibility in the EU arms embargo. And we will double -- full support to the Syrian opposition in the coming yet. Armored vehicles for the Obama and how it generates is a right to be shipped with helping local councils govern the areas that they liberate. And with supporting Lebanon and Jordan to deal with the influx of refugees. We also do more for those in desperate humanitarian need -- -- injuries helping tool to victims to recover. Getting Syrian -- is drinking clean water having access to food shelter. There is now I believe common ground between the US UK Russia and many others that whatever our differences we have the same -- A stable inclusive and peaceful Syria. Free from the scourge of extremists. That is real political will behind us we now need to get on -- do everything we can to make it happen correctly you once again -- warm welcome from -- today. Are we got time for a couple questions -- reservist Julie pace. Thank you Mr. President -- -- to ask about the IRS and Ben Ghazi. When did you first learn that the IRS was targeting conservative political groups do you feel that the IRS has betrayed the public's trust and what do you think the repercussions for these action should be. And on -- -- the newly public emails show that the White House and the State Department. Appear to have been more closely involved with the craft dean of the talking points on the attack -- first acknowledged. Do you think the White House misled the public about its role in -- in the talking points. And you stand by your administration's assertions that the talking points were not purposely changed to downplay the prospects of terrorism. And prime minister Cameron on Syria. If the EU arms embargo that you mentioned is amended or lapses is it your intention to send the Syrian opposition. Forces weapons and are you encouraging President Obama to take the same step think you. Will let me. Particularly -- us situation first. I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this -- think it was on Friday. And this this is pretty straightforward. If in fact. -- personnel engaged in. The kind of practices that have been reported -- And were intentionally targeting. Conservative groups then that's outrageous. And there's no place -- And you may have to be held fully accountable. Because the IRS as an independent agency. Requires absolute integrity and people have to have confidence that they're applying and in the nonpartisan way applying laws a nonpartisan way. And you. You should feel that way regardless of party I don't care whether Democrat independent or Republican. At some point -- going to be Republican. It administrators. Administrations at some point they're going to be democratic ones either way you don't want the IRS ever. Being. Perceived. To be biased. And anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate. So this is something that I think people are are properly concerned about. The idea is conducting its investigation. And you'll I am -- gonna comment on. There -- specific findings prematurely. But I can tell you that if you've got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral. And non partisan way. Then that is outrageous it is contrary to our traditions. And people have to be held accountable and it's gotta be fixed. So will wait and see. What exactly all the details and the facts are but I've got no patience -- that I will not tolerated and will make sure. That we find out exactly what happened moments. -- -- -- -- -- -- We we've now seen. This. Argument that's been made. By some folks primarily up on Capitol Hill. Four months now. And I've just got to say it. -- what we know. Americans died. -- -- -- What we also know is clearly they were not. In a position where they were adequately protect. The day after it happened I acknowledged that. This was an act. A terrorist. And -- I pledge to the American people was that we would find out what happened we would make sure that. It did not happen again and we would make sure that we held accountable. Those who have perpetrated this. Terrible crime. And. That's exactly what we've been trying to do. And over the last several months there was a review board headed by two distinguished Americans. Mike Mullen Tom Pickering who. Investigated every element of -- And what they discovered was some pretty harsh judgments in terms of how. We had worked to protect. Consulates and embassies around the world they gave us a -- of recommendations. Those recommendations are being implemented as we speak. The whole issue of this of talking points. Frankly throughout this process has been a side -- We have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear. Who exactly carried about how -- have been how what had occurred. What the motivations were. It happened at the same time as we have seen. Attacks on US embassies in Cairo as a consequence. Of this bill. And nobody. Understood exactly what what's taking place during the course of those first few days. And the emails that you allude to. Were provided by us. To congressional committees. They were viewed them several months ago. Concluded that. In fact there was nothing a -- -- in terms of the process that we've used. And suddenly. Three days ago. This gets spun up as if there's some -- -- new to the story. There's no there there. Keep in mind by the way these two so called talking points that were prepared. For Susan writes. 56 days after the event occurred. Pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time. In my presidential daily brief and and keep in mind that. Two to three days after. Susan Rice appeared on the Sunday shows using these talking points which have been the source of all this controversy. I sent up the -- of our national. Counterterrorism Center Matt -- up to Capitol Hill and specifically said. It was an act of terrorism. And that extremist elements inside of Libby had been involved and so. If this was some effort on our part to trying to. Downplay what had happened or tamp it down. That would be a pretty odd thing of it three days later. We end up putting out all the information. That in fact is now served as the basis for. Everybody recognizing that this was. A terrorist attack. And that it may have included. Elements that were planned by extremists decide what. Who executes some sort of cover up war effort to tamp things down. For three days. So the whole thing defies logic and the fact that this keeps on getting churned out. Frankly has a lot to do with political motivations. We've had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton's integrity Susan -- has integrity. Mike Mullen and Tom -- brings integrity. It's a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks they've used it for fund raising. And frankly. You know if if anybody out there wants to actually focus. On how we make sure something like this does not happen again. I am happy to get there. Advice and information and counsel. But the fact the matter is these four Americans. As I said it right when it happened. Were people I send into the field. And I've been very clear about taking responsibility for the fact that we were not able to prevent their -- And we are doing everything we can't make sure we prevent it in part because. There are still diplomats. Around the world. Who wore. In very dangerous difficult situations. We don't have time to be playing these kinds of political games here in Washington we should be focused on what we're doing to protect them. And that's not easy by the way. As gonna require resources and tough judgments and tough calls and their whole bunch of diplomats out there who know that. There -- in harm's way and there are a threat streams that come through every so often. With respect to our embassies in our consulates. -- not just us by the way the British have to deal with the same thing. And we've got a -- much people in the State Department who consistently say you know what I'm willing to step up I'm going to. To put myself in harm's way. Because I think of this mission is important in terms of serving the United States and advancing our interests around the globe. And and and so we. We dishonor them. When. -- -- turn things like this into a political circus. What happened was tragic. He was carried out by extremists inside Libya. We are out there trying to hunt down the folks who carried this out and we're trying to make sure that we fix the system. So that it doesn't happen again. Thank you on the issue of -- opposition Syria and we've not made the decision to bomb opposition. Groups in Syria what we've done is we have amended the EU on -- In order that we can give technical assistance and technical advice as I said in my statement. That's exactly what we're doing with continuing to examine and look at the -- -- and -- and see whether we need to make further changes to it. In order to facilitate tell what with the opposition I do believe that there's more we can do alongside technical advice assistance help. In order to -- them in order -- work with them. And to those who -- that approach I would just argue that -- if we didn't help. The Syrian opposition who we do recognize as being legitimate who signed up to a statement about the future of -- area that is. Democratic the respects the rights of minorities if we don't work with that part of the opposition. That we shouldn't be surprised if the extremist elements. Grow so I think being engaged with the Syrian opposition is the right approach. And that is a French and -- -- The president and without -- -- in the European Union. -- -- from the BBC. James and OB BC. Prime minister you'll talking hit today about a new EU US trade -- and yet members of -- apology enough talking about leaving the European Union. What is your message to them and to those pushing for an early referendum. Hands if -- -- -- friend tomorrow how would you vote. But mister president earlier this show you told David Cameron that she wanted a strong UK in a strong EU. How concerned -- you with the members of David Cameron's cabinet on now openly -- -- -- Handled sir if I -- question to both -- -- what gives you any confidence that the Russians are gonna help humans. -- -- on the issue the referendum but it does not gonna be a referendum tomorrow and as a very good reason why there's not going to be a referendum tomorrow it is because it would give the British public I think it entirely false choice between the status quo which I didn't think he is acceptable I want to see the European Union change on the C Britain's relationship with the European change. And improves it be a false choice between. The status quo and -- and I didn't think that is the choice the British public -- all the British public does. Everything I do in this is guided by a very simple principle which is what is in the national interest of Britain. Is -- in the national interest of Britain. To have a transatlantic trade deal that will make our country's more prosperous it will get people to work -- help our businesses yes it is and -- we will push. For this trans Atlantic trade deal. -- -- in our interests to reform the European Union. To make it more open more competitive more flexible. And to improve Britain's place within the European Union yes it is in our national interest it has only been on national interest it is achievable. Because Europe has to change because the single currency is -- leaving changed -- that part of the European Union. That is in the single currency just as they won't change is so I believe Britain is quite entitled to gospel and to get. Changes in response. And then finally is it in Britain's national interest what we have achieve those changes but before the end of 2070. To consult the British public in April -- -- in referendum yes I believe it is -- that's the approach that we take everything driven. By what is in the Brett British national interest that is what I'm going to deliver its -- right for a country it has very strong support. Throughout the country and in the consent -- party. That's exactly what I'm going to do only. Syrian issue you lost a -- -- one of the signs of Russian. Engagement. But I had very good talks with President Putin in Sochi on Friday. And that we had a very frank conversation in that we have approach this and in some extent still -- approach this in a different way. I have been very vocal in supporting. The Syrian opposition in saying that. That's that is has to go that he is not legitimate and I continued to say that when present version has taken a different point of view but -- -- a common interest. Is that it is in both our interest that at the end of this there is a staple. Democratic Syria that there is a stable. Neighborhood and that we don't encourage the growth of violent extremism. And I think both. The Russian president the American president myself I think we can all see that the current trajectory. Of how things are -- is known actually in anybody's interest and so it is well this major diplomatic effort. Which will pool together leading this major diplomatic effort to bring apologies to the table to achieve -- but a transition the tall. In Syria so that we can make the change that country needs. We respect. The relationship scrimmage and UK and the U. We have a special relationship -- the United Kingdom. And we believe that. Our capacity department -- it. Decades United Kingdom that is active robust. Outward looking and engage with the world. Is. Hugely important. To our own interests as well as. The world. And I think the UK's participation in the EU. Is an expression of its influence and it's. Its role. In the world as well as obviously a very important economic partnership. And ultimately the people. -- the UK have to make. Decisions for themselves I will save us the group that -- -- basic point. That. You probably want to see if you can fix. What's broken. In a very important relationship. Before -- break it off. Make some sense to me. And I know David's been very active in seeking. Some reforms internal to -- you. Those are tough negotiations got a lot of countries involved -- recognize that. But. So long as. We haven't yet evaluated. How successful those reforms will be. -- -- -- -- I at least would be interest in seeing whether or not. Those are successful. Before rendering a final judgment. Again I want to emphasize. These are issues for the people of the United Kingdom to make a decision about. Not hours. We respect to Syria I think David said a very well. The the entire world community has an interest in seeing a Syria. That. Is not engaged in sectarian war. In which the Syrian people are not being. Slaughtered. That. Is. An island of peace as opposed to potentially. At an outpost for extremists. That's not just -- -- the United States that's not just true for Great Britain that's not just true for. Countries like Jordan and Turkey the border Syria but that's also true for Russia. And BO -- I'm pleased to hear that. David had a very constructive conversation with President Putin shortly after. The conversation taking place between John Kerry and and President Putin. I've spoken present from several times on this topic. And our basic argument is that. As. A leader on the world stage. Russia has. An interest as well as an obligation. To try to resolve this issue. In a way that can lead to. The come -- from the we'd all like to see. Over the long term. And and look I don't think it's any secret that. There remains lingering suspicions. Between Russia. And other members the G-8 or the west. You know it's. It's been several decades now since. Russian transformed itself from eastern bloc transformed itself. But. You know some of those suspicion still exist. And part of what. My goal has been John Kerry's -- -- -- might know David gold's been try to break down some of those suspicions. And look objectively -- the situation. If in fact. We can. Broker. A peaceful political transition that leads to our son's departure. But a state in Syria that is still intact. That. Accommodates the interest of all the ethnic groups all -- religious groups inside of Syria. And that ends the bloodshed stabilizes the situation that's not just going to be good for us -- be good for everybody. And we're going to be very persistent. In in trying to make that happen I'm not promising. That it's going to be successful. Frankly sometimes once. -- the furious have been unleashed. In a situation like we're -- and Syria it's very hard. Two to put things back together. And the -- there is. There are going to be enormous challenges and getting a credible. Process going. Even if Russia is -- -- Because we have still have other countries like Iran and we have non state actors like Hezbollah. That have been actively involved and frankly on the other side we got organizations like -- -- -- or. Essentially affiliated to al-Qaeda. That have. Another agenda. Beyond just getting rid of us -- So all that makes combustible mix and it's going to be challenging but it's worth the effort and what we can tell you is that. We're always more successful many global effort when we -- a strong friend and partner like Great Britain by our side. Strong leadership -- prime minister David Cameron. I think you're much are running. Send -- -- friends and Obama and the prime minister David cameras at a joint news conference the two leaders. Say they discussed a number of issues including the economy the G-8 summit ahead and -- dire situation in Syria. Interestingly camera and made a rather large point of saying he supports and going after those not paying proper taxes even as a tax scandal. Faces the Obama administration right now and the president's first response. To a reporter's question he tackled the IRS situation head on. Saying if the reports the IRS have been targeting conservative political -- for years are true. He called them outrageous he said people will be held accountable and he has no patience for it she said let's bring back ABC's political director Rick Klein. Where the president right out of the gate coming down hard on the IRS and with clear -- the right approach. I think that we saw to it -- remarkable polls of presidential outrage on this in the first case in the case of the IRS. He went with the story the -- with the story -- indicates -- -- Ghazi he went against the story. The difference is who is on the firing line here who was under the spotlight. And on the IRS story it is only tangentially his administration these are low level people who were involved we believe just one office in Cincinnati. He is is outraged as the public is on that one. On inning got the story however this goes to the upper reaches of the White House a lot of those names in those emails are very familiar ones that people -- cover politics in this -- So he -- have a much different approach that essentially saying it is old news. And enough taken on everyone around him on it so I think. It is of remarkable performance in that sense that you realize from the president's perspective he knows he has to go with this hire a story because that is a serious. Piece of business and that's something that calls into question the basic trust in the government. -- -- -- story he is still hoping that people ascribe this to partisan political bickering. And I'm gonna say I'm gonna say as angry -- have -- about the IRS story when he switched to anybody he -- even angrier and truly impatient about the continued focus. On -- got it one point calling it a political circus. Ending do you think that that's Barack. I think. And -- story has had politics involved in it from the very start however. Two important things happened last week that I think took it into more of a lesson that just the pure political story into a real policy story with the implications one was. The emergence of that whistle blower mr. hicks as an ambassador in the country. Sorry some ambassador in the country. Of Libya talking about that timeline of events questioning Hillary Clinton's conduct in real time. The second one was the release of those documents obtained by our colleague Jonathan Karl the twelve different sets of talking points that show that clearly agencies were involved in. Heavy -- of the talking points that had. At least some political motivations involved in them those two elements I think took the story into a bigger level and it's on the White House is gonna have to grapple with right now right but they are right pointing out that so much of the coverage surrounding -- has been. Political talking points and it's been the other side trying to find all kinds of motivations where they may not be -- the White House. Whether the president didn't seem to sort of say the buck stops here you know I am ultimately responsible for the safety of all of my. You know employees across the world so there -- -- moment where he said look ultimately I'm the responsible one. That's right although -- -- also said that there's been investigations into this the White House has made clear they view this is something that is a done issue they had. And accountability review board that looked at this that found fault in some places but. Didn't find it inside the high ranks of the White House they consider this to be over in the consider any further investigation to be essentially a witch hunt. Republicans. As you well know have -- -- view of this scandal. Summer -- these two issues and got the and the -- overshadow. The important work that these two leaders worst still try to get done regarding Syria and the economy. In terms of our -- does not question that I don't know what that's what happened. Inside me. I'm guessing that prime minister Cameron. Wasn't asking about the -- scandal loving -- the inside their individual meetings and ultimately these men -- the by the leaders to the most powerful countries on the planet and their actions together and speak louder than -- house press coverage it is covered on Twitter store but but like I think clearly did they were hoping to get something out of this that's much different is an old saying. In Washington it's a lot easier to get political reporters to write about serious policy. When the only thing on their plea -- vegetables and in this case. There's some there's some tasty morsels out there that have nothing to do with with policy. Not not anything direct to do with policy there's they -- classic Washington scandals that a lot of people interest that I think rightfully. But they they do certainly overshadow things like Syria which you know those those are. Tens of thousands of lives are talking about cops didn't hear anything new coming out of these two leaders regarding Syria I think a little bit of pressure on Russia to step up and that may be significant and I think -- clearly the actions of these two men together in their countries together will be very important in. In moving -- whatever the next of responses you heard president I think that they're fully aware of what the the potential for the rebels in Syria to be a complicated -- back. That's right admit they've never been shy about about explaining that you have to know exactly who's on your side was not and it's not as easy as this thing -- an arm one side against the other one that is. -- very outdated view particularly of the situation in Syria so. The U as the president has said weeks ago it was a red line it's unclear what he meant what happens when you cross that who crosses it and he's actually dotted line vs a solid line a lot of questions that he has to sort out on this that's taking some time and I think. In the White House also made clear that he is is as horrible as the atrocities that happened cereal -- intend to take their time they intend -- get -- -- I -- the history. Of moving too quickly on things you think weapons of mass destruction you don't know exactly what. Who's responsible for. What was going on at the times they want to -- sure they get it right that's at this time they're gonna get it right all right thank you so much Rick Klein and Washington. And for the latest on the IRS and the -- got the investigations as well as a thorough readout of the president's meeting with prime minister Cameron. You can go to abcnews.com. On -- -- in new York and this has been an ABC news at digital special reports. This has been a special report from ABC news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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