The following is a rush transcript of the October 18, 2013 edition of “Special Report with Bret Baier.” This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Good evening. I’m Chris Wallace in for Bret Baier. Following stunning revelations that President Obama had personally ordered and sometimes participated in IRS investigations of Tea Party groups, Obama spokesman Jay Carney faced difficult questions from the White House press corp. Reporters were especially angry because they felt lied to by Carney because of his earlier statements that the targeting of conservative groups was carried out by low-level IRS officials. Here are some examples of the questions and Carney’s answers:
MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS: Jay, you originally said that the targeting was carried out by low-level IRS officials. Isn’t this misleading when now we learn that the president ordered these investigations and sometimes personally mailed the questionnaires after scrawling obscene comments in the margins?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECEREATARY: I would refer you to the many earlier statements made by the White House over the course of this investigation. Our position has been perfectly clear, open and consistent. We said that the targeting was done by IRS officials. I would also refer you to the Constitution. In Article II, the Constitution says it is the president’s responsibility to make sure that federal law is faithfully executed. That means that every law is under the president’s purview. So the president is an IRS investigator, a meat inspector, an air traffic controller, and a park ranger among much else.
So when the president ordered the investigation of those groups, he was acting in his capacity as an IRS official. So if you look at our statements and take the time to think about the president’s constitutional responsibilities, you can see that there is no contradiction between our original statements and the old news that you are now bringing up again.
JONATHAN KARL, NBC NEWS: Jay, but you said low-level IRS officials. How is it not changing your story to now admit that the president was involved to the point where, according to one recently leaked email, he told IRS executives to quote “audit and reaudit those Tea Party scum until even their dead relatives commit suicide.” Isn’t this a change in the White House’s position?
CARNEY: There has not been the slightest change in our position. The email just proves how open and transparent we have been throughout this entire process. We described the person involved in these investigations as low-level.
The president is a man of powerful and ever-evolving, but also very humble faith. Compared to the Almighty, we are all low-level. If you look at the record of the president’s past statements and the two books he has written, you can see that he often refers to himself as low-level. It is something of a running joke in the White House and at campaign events. The original draft of the FBI talking points on the IRS investigations did include a direct reference to the president by name, but we made the stylistic change to quote “low-level” as a well-known euphemism for the president that would have the added advantage of not prejudicing the FBI’s investigation of the matter.
WALLACE: Carney assured reporters that quote “an FBI official” would conduct a thorough investigation. Congressional Republicans and Tea Party groups are demanding hearings. The New York Times published a rare Friday afternoon web editorial condemning the calls for new hearings related to the IRS scandal as quote “a partisan witch-hunt based on old and discredited information.” More on this later with the panel.