News / USA

US Official: White House Was Unaware of IRS Misdeeds

President Barack Obama and White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, right, react to a reporter's question as they leave the Treasury Department in Washington, Jan. 16, 2013.President Barack Obama and White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, right, react to a reporter's question as they leave the Treasury Department in Washington, Jan. 16, 2013.
x
President Barack Obama and White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, right, react to a reporter's question as they leave the Treasury Department in Washington, Jan. 16, 2013.
President Barack Obama and White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, right, react to a reporter's question as they leave the Treasury Department in Washington, Jan. 16, 2013.
Michael Bowman
A senior Obama administration official says the White House had no knowledge of misdeeds being committed by America’s tax collecting agency - one of several scandals engulfing the administration.  

The Internal Revenue Service has admitted to singling out conservative political groups for heightened scrutiny in recent years.  The IRS is a politically-independent agency within the Treasury Department, which is headed by a member of the president’s Cabinet.  And so the question arises: did the White House know of improper IRS behavior before an independent investigator’s report was released earlier this month?  

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer says no. “The first that the White House was made aware of it was from the Treasury Department a few weeks ago.  And not the details of what happened, not the results of the investigation, but that an independent investigation was about to conclude," he said.

Speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation program, Pfeiffer said the White House had a hands-off approach to the probe. “You have a cardinal rule, which is you do nothing to interfere with an independent investigation and you do nothing to offer the appearance of interfering in an investigation.  So we, I feel like we handled this the appropriate way," he said.

White House assurances do not satisfy Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s running mate in last year’s presidential contest.

“What we do now know that, for roughly two years, the IRS was targeting Americans based on their political beliefs," he said. "So we are going to continue this investigation to get to the bottom of this: who knew [about the scandal]?  When did they know?  Why did they do this?  How high up in government did it go?”

Speaking on the Fox News Sunday television program, Ryan dismissed last week’s assertion by the IRS’ former acting commissioner that the targeting of certain political groups constituted errors and “poor customer service”.

“People deserve a government they can trust, that is honest, impartial.  To try and suggest that this is just bureaucratic snafus [mistakes] - we already know that that is not true," he said.

In addition to the IRS scandal, Congress has been probing the administration’s actions during and after last year’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, and whether the Justice Department acted properly in secretly seizing phone records form the Associated Press.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More