On Thursday, President Barack Obama held a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and answered one reporter’s questions about the widening scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of nearly 500 conservative groups over the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.
When a Bloomberg reporter asked when the Obama White House learned about the IRS targeting and interrogating conservative groups for over 18 months, Obama offered a carefully worded response that will likely spark more questions than it answered about what the White House knew and when it knew it.
“I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG [Inspector General] report before the IG report had been leaked to the press,” said Obama to the reporter who had not inquired about the Inspector General report.
As to whether an independent special prosecutor was needed to investigate the IRS scandal, Obama said “I think it’s going to be sufficient for us to be working with Congress.”
Obama’s carefully parsed denial of any knowledge of the IRS targeting scandal comes on the heels of his five minute Wednesday evening press appearance wherein Obama announced that acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller–whose term was already slated to end in a few weeks–had offered his resignation.
Obama’s handling of the IRS scandal has done little to allay GOP outrage over the possible use of federal power to silence voices opposed to the president’s agenda.
“My question isn’t about who’s going to resign,” said Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) on Wednesday. “My question is who is going to jail over this scandal?”
Gallup’s daily tracking poll shows Obama’s job approval has dropped two points to 47%.