White House spokesman Jay Carney says it's "been a good week." He made the comment to the New York Times.
“Honestly, I find it enjoyable,” Carney says of coming under fire this week . “I find it challenging. It’s hard, but it’s better than 45 to 60 minutes of calling on reporters who are kind of sleepy and disinterested. For me personally, it has been a good week.”
The pressures began two weeks ago with the growing controversy over the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, in which four Americans were killed.
Mr. Carney is far from the center of that controversy. But Republicans turned their focus on his November assertion that the administration’s original talking points on the episode, “originated from the intelligence community,” further insisting that the White House edited only a couple of words in the memo.
Recently revealed e-mails demonstrate a more coordinated process in which the White House and State Department were intimately involved. While Mr. Carney “appreciated” the questions about the inconsistencies, he did little to clear them up.
“The downside for Jay on this is his own, repeated statements are cast under a considerable cloud,” said Ann Compton of ABC News Radio, who has covered the White House since 1974. “The flip side is he does not appear to be a policy voice arguing on behalf of fuzzing up the facts.”
The tensions continued with Mr. Carney’s defense of the White House in the investigation over whether the I.R.S. inappropriately targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny and his push back on questions relating to the the seizure of telephone records of Associated Press journalists, over which the press relentlessly grilled him.
Carney told the paper he doesn't "take it personally."
At a Capitol Hill hearing today, IRS commissioner Steven Miller said a bigger budget would be helpful:
A congressman asked, "What do you need to make it so that this wouldn't have happened?"
"So there are two things, sir," said Miller. "And I appreciate the kind words for our people because we are incredibly hard working and honest group, frankly, and that seems to be forgotten in all of this. With respect to political activity, it would be a wonderful thing to get better rules, to get more clear rules. And in terms of our ability to get to this work it would be good to have a little budget that would allow us to get more than the number of people we have to do 70,000 applications and to do our job and looking at whether an organization is tax exempt or not."
Another celebration planned at the White House. This one will take place next week, and will honor Carole King:
PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY TO HOST CONCERT HONORING
CAROLE KING IN THE EAST ROOM
Wednesday, May 22 * White House – As part of their “In Performance at the White House” series, the President and First Lady will host a concert in the East Room honoring singer-songwriter Carole King, who will be awarded the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. President Obama will present the award as he did when the Library of Congress honored Stevie Wonder (2009), Sir Paul McCartney (2010), and the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David (2012). The program will include performances by King, as well as Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Jesse McCartney, Emeli Sandé, James Taylor and Trisha Yearwood.
The President’s remarks will be pooled press and the entire event will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov/live starting at 7:00 PM ET. “Carole King: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize In Performance at the White House” will be broadcast Tuesday, May 28 at 8:00 PM ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). The program will also be broadcast at a later date via the American Forces Network to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
This will be the first time the Gershwin Prize honor has been awarded to a woman. The Gershwin Prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
The White House concert caps off two days of events celebrating the recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. On Tuesday, May 21st at 7:00 PM ET, the Library of Congress will host an invitation-only concert at their Coolidge Auditorium in honor of Carole King. The all-star tribute will include performances by Patti Austin, Colbie Caillat, Michael Feinstein, Siedah Garrett, Louise Goffin, Shelby Lynne, Gian Marco, Arturo Sandoval and a special performance by honoree Carole King. This event will be open to press, but space is limited. Members of the media who wish to cover this event must contact Sheryl Cannady ...
NBC's Lisa Myers reported this morning that the IRS deliberately chose not to reveal that it had wrongly targeted conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election:
The IRS commissioner "has known for at least a year that this was going on," said Myers, "and that this had happened. And did he share any of that information with the White House? But even more importantly, Congress is going to ask him, why did you mislead us for an entire year? Members of Congress were saying conservatives are being targeted. What's going on here? The IRS denied it. Then when -- after these officials are briefed by the IG that this is going on, they don't disclose it. In fact, the commissioner sent a letter to Congress in September on this subject and did not reveal this. Imagine if we -- if you can -- what would have happened if this fact came out in September 2012, in the middle of a presidential election? The terrain would have looked very different."
On TV this morning, Bob Woodward made the case for not dismissing Benghazi and compared the scandal to Watergate:
"You were talking earlier about kind of dismissing the Benghazi issue as one that's just political and the president recently said it's a sideshow," said Woodward. "But if you read through all these e-mails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, 'Oh, let's not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. Let's not tell the public that there were warnings.' I hate to show, this is one of the documents with the editing that one of the people in the state department said, 'Oh, let's not let these things out.' And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Oh, let's not tell this, let's not show this.' I would not dismiss Benghazi. It's a very serious issue. As people keep saying, four people were killed. You look at the hydraulic pressure that was in the system to not tell the truth, and, you know, we use this term and the government uses this term, talking points. Talking points, as we know, are like legal briefs. They're an argument on one side. What we need to get rid of talking point and they need to put out statements or papers that are truth documents. Okay, this is all we know."
In an email to supporters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi encouraged readers to sign a petition to "declare your support" for Obamacare ahead of the House plan to hold a vote on repealing the unpopular health care law. The email, which had the subject line "this has gotten out of control,"claims that the vote to repeal is "worthless," particularly because "a real repeal would actually COST money rather than save it."
Read the whole email from Pelosi below:
This Republican circus has gotten out of control:
Led by Michele Bachmann, tonight Republicans will vote to repeal Obamacare for the 37th time.
We want to reach one million people standing behind Obamacare to show that Bachmann and House Republicans have lost the faith of the American people.
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Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez continues to poll within single digits of his opponent, Democratic congressman Ed Markey, in the special election for Senate in Massachusetts. According to a new poll from PPP, first reported by BuzzFeed, Markey leads Gomez, a political newcomer, by 7 points, 48 percent to 41 percent.
As BuzzFeed points out, Markey may be shoring up the Democratic vote after a divisive Democratic primary:
Markey has gone “from a 68/21 lead with Democratic voters two weeks ago to a 77/12 one now,” the PPP analysis of the poll finds.
After nearly two days of editing, then CIA director David Petraeus was sent the revised Benghazi talking points on September 15, 2012. He was less than impressed, to put it mildly.
“No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?” Petraeus wrote in an email. “I’d just as soon not use this, then…”
Petraeus punted, however, writing that ultimately it was the National Security Staff’s (NSS’s) “call” to use the edited talking points.
What did the “cable to Cairo” say, exactly? Earlier versions of the talking points included the following sentence, or language very similar to it:
“On 10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the Embassy Cairo and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.”
When this was struck from the talking points, a key part of the story was lost. The protest in Cairo was not some unorganized reaction to a You Tube trailer for the video Innocence of Muslims. Al Qaeda-linked jihadists, including Mohammed al Zawahiri, the brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, help incite the Cairo protest, using that video trailer as a pretext.
The evidence for this is plain to see, as THE WEEKLY STANDARD has written here, here, here and here. (See also here.) The protest in Cairo was not just some anti-American affair, it was ostentatiously pro-al Qaeda. The protesters chanted “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!” as dozens of al Qaeda flags were flown in the crowd. One such black banner was used to replace the American flag that normally sits atop the Embassy. It would be absurd to think the senior al Qaeda-linked jihadists standing out in front of the U.S. Embassy had nothing to do with this.
The spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Shawn Turner, did object to the wording of the CIA’s Cairo warning in the talking points, but he did not advocate removing it entirely.“I've been very careful not to say we issued a warning,” Turner wrote on the evening of September 14. Turner wanted the wording to be changed to read (emphasis added):
“On 10 September we notified Embassy Cairo of social media reports calling for a demonstration and encouraging jihadists to break into the Embassy."
And so it was. Then, on September 15, the language was struck entirely from the Benghazi talking points, prompting Petraeus’s objection. Anyone reading the talking points from then on would have no idea that there was a “jihadist” threat against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo prior to September 11, 2012.
The U.S. Marshal Service has been “unable to locate” two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program “identified as known or suspected terrorists,” states the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General’s report obtained by CNN.
The Marshals have concluded that “one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States.”
The news comes from an audit of the Witness Security Program by the IG’s office , which states that “the Department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the WITSEC program,” among other “significant issues concerning national security.” The report makes 16 recommendations.