(NEW YORK) — Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week, White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the legality surrounding the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue service is “irrelevant,” but called the behavior “inexcusable.”
“I can’t speak to the law here. The law is irrelevant. The activity was outrageous and inexcusable, and it was stopped and it needs to be fixed so we ensure it never happens again,” Pfeiffer said.
Stephanopoulos asked Pfeiffer if he really thought the law is “irrelevant.”
“What I mean is, whether it’s legal or illegal is not important to the fact that the conduct doesn’t matter. The Department of Justice has said they’re looking into the legality of this. The president is not going to wait for that. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again, regardless of how that turns out,” Pfeiffer said.
Pfeiffer also insisted President Obama didn’t find out that the IRS was targeting tea party groups until last week, when the scandal went public.
“The deputy secretary of the Treasury was made aware just of the fact that the investigation was beginning last year but no-one in the White House was aware,” Pfeiffer said, stressing that Obama was not involved in the scandal.
“Don’t take my word for it,” he said, “take the word of the independent Inspector General who said that he found no evidence that there was any influence from anyone outside of the IRS.”
Several Republicans are not convinced.
“The IG report was an audit, it was not an investigation,” noted Republican congressman Tom Price of Georgia, also appearing on This Week.
“This is just the beginning of this process and we need to get to the bottom of it, we need to find out who made those decisions, hold them to account and see how high up the chain it went,” Price said.
Senator Rob Portman is among the Republicans calling for a Special Counsel in the IRS scandal. The Ohio lawmaker wrote a letter to President Obama wanting to know what if any private pressure was exerted by the White House on the IRS regarding standard for approving and monitoring tax exempt organizations. Portman also appeared on This Week.
“It seems to me that there’s a lot of issues here we need to get to the bottom of, we need to find out what really happened and make sure we can begin to regain some trust in our government, that’s my concern,” he said.
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