As expected, President Obama's remarks Wednesday evening on the investigation into the IRS's targeting of "Tea Party" and "Patriot" groups were short, but not without consequence: the acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, has resigned in the wake of the scandal. It looks like a symbolic resignation: Miller, who was named acting commissioner just seven months ago and was more-or-less a fill-in until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement, wasn't even in charge when most of the IRS's inappropriate targeting activity actually happened.
Miller was a career IRS guy: he'd worked there for 25 years before taking the interim commissioner gig when former commissioner Doug Shulman stepped down late last year. Before serving as acting commissioner, Miller was the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement. He held several leadership positions at the agency before that, according to his IRS bio (still on the site).
In any case, the president blasted the IRS's "inexcusable" actions ("I am angry about it," he added) in the wake of a watchdog report released Tuesday night, and promised new safeguards to prevent another scandal like this from happening.
The president will hold a press conference tomorrow at noon in the Rose Garden, with the prime minister of Turkey. Obama said he will take questions on the IRS investigation then. Scroll down for more from the brief statement — here's video and the full text:
Good afternoon, everybody. I just finished speaking with Secretary Lew and senior officials at the Treasury Department to discuss the investigation into IRS personnel who improperly screened conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And I look forward to taking some questions at tomorrow’s press conference, but today, I wanted to make sure to get out to all of you some information about what we’re doing about this, and where we go from here.
I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives. And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from -- the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity. The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable. Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts. Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.
Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role. And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed. Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas. Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in -- as reported in the IG report is an outrage. The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.
I’ll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and new safeguards, and going forward, by making sure that the law is applied as it should be -- in a fair and impartial way. And we’re going to have to make sure that the laws are clear so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way, and that there’s not too much ambiguity surrounding these laws.
So that's what I expect. That's what the American people deserve. And that's what we’re going to do.
Thank you very much.
Updates: (6:26 p.m.) That IRS acting commissioner, by the way, is Steven Miller. Obama: "Everybody believes what happened... is an outrage. The good news is that it's fixable...I'll do everything in my power to ensure that this never happens again." Along with Miller's resignation, the president also announced that the administration will pursue new safeguards to prevent this from happening again.
(6:25 p.m.) Obama: "Here's what we're gonna do:" Secretary Lew has accepted the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS.
(6: 24 p.m.): Finally, over 20 minutes past schedule, the statement begins. Obama: "The misconduct [the watchdog report] uncovered is inexcusable."
Original Post: President Obama will address the investigation into the IRS's targeting of "Tea Party" and "patriot" groups (among others) in an early evening statement at the White House. The administration has seemed to take the IRS scandal relatively seriously this week: after Tuesday night's release of a Treasury watchdog report on the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, the president responded in a statement. On Wednesday, after word surfaced that two officers at a Cincinnati IRS office had been disciplined, the president met late in the afternoon with the Treasury Department and Senator John McCain to discuss the ongoing investigation.
We're expecting this statement to be short, without any questions that might balloon an already busy evening with the White House releasing nearly 100 pages of Benghazi emails — and a busy late afternoon with Attorney General Eric Holder on Capitol Hill talking about the AP investigation. But that doesn't mean it won't be inconsequential, according to some reports:
I'm told POTUS will announce irs changes— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) May 15, 2013
Watch the White House statement live below — it's scheduled for 6 p.m. Eastern — and stay tuned for updates.