The Note: Inquiring Minds And The IRS

Image credit: Tom Williams/Getty Images

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • GRILL ON THE HILL: Today a House Appropriations subcommittee will hear from Internal Revenue Service Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel about what steps the agency is taking to address the IRS's targeting of conservative groups and to hold those responsible accountable. Also at the witness table will be J. Russell George, the Treasury Department's Inspector General. The House Ways and Means committee will hold a hearing tomorrow featuring representatives from conservative organizations that were targeted by the IRS (some of those groups filed a joint lawsuit against the agency last week). And on Thursday, George returns to Capitol Hill to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform "about a newly-released audit uncovering information about excessive spending at IRS conferences." The hearing comes roughly a week after the release of a video showing IRS officials line dancing to the "Cupid Shuffle" at a 2010 agency conference in California.
  • ISSA CALLS WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN A 'PAID LIAR': The IRS agents in Cincinnati who were involved in the targeting of conservative groups were "being directly ordered from Washington," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asserted yesterday, and he accused the White House of lying about the involvement of IRS headquarter officials in the scandal, calling White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a "paid liar." "The administration is still - their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind - he's still making up things about what happens and calling this local rogue," Issa said on CNN's "State of the Union," ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. "The reason that Lois Lerner tried to take the Fifth [Amendment when called to testify before Congress] is not because there's a rogue in Cincinnati, it's because this is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters And we're getting to proving it. "The administration is still trying to say there's a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington," he said.
  • ON THE AGENDA: Today, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden host a White House conference on mental health, in an effort to build on the administration's efforts to reduce gun violence, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. Billed as a "national conversation to increase understanding and awareness about mental health," the conference brings together mental health advocates, educators, health care providers, members of Congress, and other various stakeholders. The president delivers opening remarks at 9:55 a.m. ET. Biden speaks at the end of the conference at 2 p.m. ET.


ABC's DEVIN DWYER: Who's a liar? Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said definitively Sunday that White House spokesman Jay Carney is a "paid" one. But he and other top Republicans stopped short of affixing the label to Attorney General Eric Holder, who's under fire for conflicting testimony about a DOJ investigation of a Fox News reporter. "He certainly could have been more candid," Issa said simply when pressed on whether Holder lied to Congress. Other Republicans on the Sunday show circuit were equally circumspect, seemingly aware of the weighty implications of a public perjury charge. "I've always avoided… that word because it's so definitive," said Sen. John McCain. House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte would only say that he's "concerned" about Holder's testimony and wants to afford the AG "the opportunity to respond." (The back story on the controversy over Holder's testimony:

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Tomorrow is primary day in New Jersey and although there is no real primary on either side of the gubernatorial campaign, it marks the beginning of the general election. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been blasting the airwaves with five ads, including two negative ones going after his opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono, plus outside ads are airing on both sides. One reason for the onslaught: 2016. John Weingart, associate Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, says there will be even more national attention on Christie as November gets closer, and Christie might want to grow his lead now so he doesn't need to be running negative ads then. "In October, he could run a very positive campaign, which would potentially be more appealing to people throughout the country who might be starting to look at him as a possible presidential candidate so the last image of this race would be to win with a campaign that seems attractive and to have had coattails where some legislative challengers were successful," Weingart said, referring to GOP state legislative candidates. "I think it is advantageous to a presidential campaign to be elected in a state that leans Democratic and to be able to say, 'When I was elected it was reasonably close, and when I was re-elected I won by a lot.'" There is also a historical perspective that Weingart said Christie would undoubtedly have on his mind. In 1985, Gov. Tom Kean - New Jersey's most beloved Republican and Christie's mentor - won with the largest margin of victory in the history of New Jersey gubernatorial races, defeating his Democratic opponent 71 percent to 24 percent. That may be impossible now, but Weingart said Christie would love to have those "bragging rights in both a political and personal sense."


LIKE FATHER LIKE SON: EVADING DEATH AND STRENGTHENING THEIR BOND IN THE AFGHANISTAN WAR. Journalists Mike and Carlos Boettcher have spent as much time embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan as just about anyone. They've gone to some of the most dangerous parts of the country to cover the war. And, they've done it all as father and son. In their new documentary, "The Hornet's Nest," Emmy-award winning journalist Mike Boettcher and his son Carlos, who is now an ABC News producer, tell the story of their brush with death during an embed mission with the 101st Airborne Division in Kunar Province-a stronghold for the Taliban. "I remember saying to myself ' you selfish son of bitch, did you get your son killed?'" Mike Boettcher tells ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ, host of "On the Radar" of the moment when he and his son were separated after their battalion was ambushed by the Taliban.


DAVID PLOUFFE: IRS TARGETING 'WAS NOT A POLITICAL PURSUIT'. Former White House senior adviser and Democratic strategist David Plouffe fought back against assertions from GOP strategist and former Deputy Chief of Staff to George W. Bush Karl Rove that the IRS's targeting of conservative groups was a political pursuit driven by Democrats. "There's been no suggestion- the Inspector General said there was no politics involved in this," Plouffe said Sunday on "This Week." "This was not an effort driven by the White House. It would be the dumbest political effort of all time." ABC's ELIZABETH HARTFIELD reports that Rove, who co-founded the GOP affiliated outside spending group "American Crossroads," argued that IRS workers in offices across the country may have taken direction, inadvertently, from top Democrats. "I think people sitting in Cincinnati, Laguna Niguel, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. listen to people like Senator Max Baucus, Senator Chuck Schumer, President Obama," Rove said. "When President Obama goes out in 2010 and calls these groups 'a threat to democracy' he's blowing a dog whistle."

DINGELL CITES 'REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE' AS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHANGES HE'S SEEN IN CONGRESS IN 57 YEARS. Speaking on "This Week," Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan - who is poised to become the longest serving member of Congress this week - bemoaned Washington partisanship, saying a "refusal to compromise" is one of the biggest changes he has seen over his more than 57-year career in Congress when asked about the issue by ABC' s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. "Lack of collegiality. Refusal to compromise. An absolute reluctance to work together. And I think a total loss of the understanding of the traditions," Dingell said. "Today members are so busy getting re-elected, spend so little time there, there's so much pressure on them from outside to be partisan and to fight, not to do the things that we're supposed to, such as compromising and working together," Dingell said. "And compromise has gotten, George, to be a dirty word. And this is a great shame. The founding fathers intended something quite different."

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON CALLS MICHELE BACHMANN A 'COLORFUL DISTRACTION'. "What is interesting, is that basically, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann was a sort of colorful distraction. She had no legislative record," editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group Arianna Huffington said on the "This Week" roundtable. "She didn't really do anything in the House that she cannot do outside the House. A lot of her career was based on grandstanding. So she can continue doing that." Other roundtable guests included PBS' "Washington Week" moderator and managing editor Gwen Ifill, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, ABC News global affairs anchor Christiane Amanpour, TIME International editor Bobby Ghosh and vice president of new initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson Center Aaron David Miller. More highlights:

CHRISTIE POUNDS THE AIRWAVES AGAINST OPPONENT, DESPITE HUGE LEAD. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is leading his gubernatorial opponent,state Sen. Barbara Buono, by more than 30 points, but that hasn't stopped him from bombarding the airwaves with ads, including negative ones attacking Buono, and spending almost $4.5 million, according to the Christie campaign. It's easy to wonder why, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. New Jersey political experts and the two campaigns have weighed in on the question. But most important, despite a polling and financial lead, the governor, who is believed to have presidential ambitions in 2016, is taking nothing for granted in 2013. Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime New York City Democratic strategist who has worked on New Jersey races said no one will remember just how negative these ads are getting, but they will remember a landslide. "It is a Democratic state, and he's taking no chances and he wants to roll big numbers," Sheinkopf said. "No one will remember the negative ads outside of New Jersey, but when it's done, what people will remember nationally are his numbers in a Democratic state. As a Republican he wants to win big in a state that tends to vote for Democrats overall." Christie is running five ads, including two negative ones, which try to paint Buono as in lockstep with former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, and accuse her of raising taxes and fees. Corzine lost to Christie in 2009. Corzine was also the former CEO of brokerage firm MF Global, which went bankrupt in 2011, prompting an investigation into Corzine's role in the collapse. It's easy to see why Christie wants to paint Buono with the same brush.

NOTED: BRADLEY MANNING COURT-MARTIAL STARTS TODAY. The court-martial for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning begins today in Fort Meade, Md., ABC's LUIS MARTINEZ notes. Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of military and State Department documents that ended up being published by online organization WikiLeaks, in what has been described as the most extensive leak of classified information in U.S. history. Manning, 25, faces life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. The trial is expected to last three months. In the three years since first being detained during a combat deployment to Iraq, the former Army intelligence analyst has become a cause célèbre for civil liberties and anti-secrecy advocates who consider him a whistle-blower. Army prosecutors consider him a traitor. The most serious of the 22 charges he faces is for aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. Prosecutors chose not to pursue the death penalty for the charge.


@HotlineReid: I count @JesseFFerguson as a close friend. He's brave and strong, and he'll get thru this -

@rachelweinerwp: Jeff Flake's vacation: "Racing to shore with a fish on the end of the spear and sharks chasing you"

@PhilipRucker: Va. Gov McDonnell complains to AP about FBI & media probes. "People going after my family is very troublesome to me." …

@kasie: W Bachmann gone & Palin faded, who are the next famous female faces in the GOP? And can they win women over? My story …

@markknoller: It's raining in DC and there are ducks on Pennsylvania Avenue a block from the WH. Shared some of my croissant with them. Nice ducks.