White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday the question of whether any laws were broken in the Internal Revenue Scandal is “irrelevant” to the fact that the agency’s actions were wrong and unjustifiable. “I can’t speak to the law here. The law is irrelevant,” Pfefiffer said on ABC News’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “The activity was outrageous and inexcusable, and it was stopped and it needs to be fixed to ensure it never happens again.” Stephanopoulos replied: “You don’t really mean the law is irrelevant, do you?” Pfeiffer responded: “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 that they’re looking into the legality of this. The president is not going to wait for that. We have to make sure it does not happen again, regardless of how that turns out.”
At issue is the recent revelation that the IRS singled out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny. The Justice Department announced last week that it had opened up a criminal investigation to determine whether any laws were broken.
Pfeiffer said no one at the White House was aware of the situation at the IRS until last month, when the White House counsel’s office received word the IRS inspector general was looking into matters at the Cincinnati IRS office. The White House did not know the details of the investigation or its conclusion until it was released publicly last week, he said.
“It’s important to know what we actually knew, which is just that there was an investigation, it was coming to conclusion,” Pfeiffer said. “Not that we knew the results. We didn’t see the report until it was released last Wednesday.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week that the IRS inspector general informed the White House Counsel’s office in April that it was reviewing matters involving the Cincinnati office. The White House has said President Obama did not learn of the IRS’s actions until he saw news reports on the matter earlier this month.