President Obama on Sunday said that Internal Revenue Service officials responsible for the targeting of Tea Party groups made “boneheaded” decisions, but denied that the agency was used to go after the administration's political opponents.
Asked in a pre-Super Bowl interview on Fox if the scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status had been directed from the White House, Obama said there was no “corruption” of any kind in the scandal.
“There was some boneheaded decisions,” the president told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, but dismissed the suggestion that there was corruption.
“Not even mass corruption, not even a smidgen of corruption,” said Obama.
“You have the 501(c)(3) law, which people think is kind of confusing, and we know that the folks did not know how to implement [it.],” the president explained.
Obama blamed coverage of the IRS scandal by conservative groups and outlets for the continued controversy.
“These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them,” said Obama.
O’Reilly asked Obama about numerous visits to the White House from then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, questioning if the agency’s scrutiny of political conservative groups may have been directed from above.
“Mr. Shulman as head of the IRS is constantly coming in because at the time we were trying to set up healthcare.gov and the IRS is involved with making sure that works as well as part of the overall healthcare team,” said Obama.
“No. 2, we’ve also got the IRS involved with some of the financial reforms to make sure that we don’t have taxpayer funded bailouts in the future,” Obama continued. “We had all these different agendas in which the head of the IRS is naturally involved.”
Obama, though, added that he “did not recall meeting with him [Shulman] in any of these meetings, that are pretty routine meetings.”