White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said (on Friday June 20) that the investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups has become nothing more than a republican conspiracy theory.
“There have been 13 months of multiple congressional investigations, including 14 congressional hearings, 30 interviews with IRS employees, 50 written congressional requests, and 750,000 pages of documents, and all of that has done nothing to substantiate false Republican claims of a broader political conspiracy,” Earnest said. “So I don’t know if you’re floating another conspiracy or if this is a request from Republicans who are floating a conspiracy or what exactly the suggestion is. But the fact of the matter is we’ve cooperated extensively, and despite that cooperation, you know, we’ve seen continued allegations of Republican conspiracy theories that just never pan out.”
Reporter Ed Henry continued grilling him saying Earnest didn’t seem to be taking the allegations seriously.
Q: On the investigation of the emails, did the investigators or White House counsel look at — or look for emails between the White House and the chief of staff or other aides of Lerner?
JOSH EARNEST: Are you asking about emails that would have been exchanged –
Q: From the White House to Lerner’s chief of staff or her other aides, top aides.
EARNEST: Well, I guess I wasn’t aware that that was a specific request from Republicans. Did they ask for that?
Q: I don’t know. I’m asking you. (Laughter.)
EARNEST: Roger, it turns out that there have been 13 months of multiple congressional investigations, including 14 congressional hearings, 30 interviews with IRS employees, 50 written congressional requests, and 750,000 pages of documents, and all of that has done nothing to substantiate false Republican claims of a broader political conspiracy.
So I don’t know if you’re floating another conspiracy or if this is a request from Republicans who are floating a conspiracy or what exactly the suggestion is. But the fact of the matter is we’ve cooperated extensively, and despite that cooperation, you know, we’ve seen continued allegations of Republican conspiracy theories that just never pan out. Ed.
Q: Just on that point, we understand — I think what Roger’s trying to get at is what I asked Jay a couple days ago, which is that we understand you turned over — the IRS has turned over tens of thousands of emails, but when two years of emails from the time period that’s being investigated, when tea party groups were allegedly targeted — we don’t know all the facts — how can you say there’s been extensive cooperation if two years of emails are just missing?
You don’t seem to be taking that point seriously.
EARNEST: Well, I guess what I would say, Ed, is that I think it’s fair that we recognize that software moves on and that archiving in a digital age is not as easy as it might seem to the public. Those aren’t just my comments, but those are actually the comments of Congressman Darrell Issa on February 26th, 2008. So, his suggestion that somehow there’s a political conspiracy going on here is not consistent with what he’s previously said on those kind of issues.
Q: But again, it’s not a conspiracy. If the emails were there you could show, hey, there’s no conspiracy. That’s the question. I understand you want to keep saying it’s about the Republicans, but why are two years missing?
EARNEST: Why are these Republicans — (inaudible) — anything about Republicans?
Q: Why are two years of emails missing?
EARNEST: Because there was a — the computer crashed. And what we’ve seen is a demonstrated effort by this administration and by the IRS to try to cooperate with legitimate questions that have been posed by the committee on this.
It’s important to remember that the Obama administration is masterful at the art of “political language,” and realizes that the word “conspiracy” is one which subconsciously scares people and prevents them from investigating a situation further. The American public in general has long since been brainwashed regarding the word conspiracy so Obama’s logic is that the more it’s repeated in a news story the less interest the public will have in it or, in case the story does in fact stick, then it will be less creditworthy. Also, by associating the word “republican” into the scheme – B.O. get’s a BOGO and simply labels it a republican owned conspiracy theory which turns interest off and/or undermines the credibility of republican charges that the IRS was in fact targeting conservative groups for audit and exclusion from tax exempt status.
If you check the history of the term “conspiracy theory” you’ll see a dramatic shift in it’s commonly accepted meaning following the assassination of JFK. Prior to that event it was typically used as a term referring to unfinished investigative journalism or a “journalistic hypothesis.”