Politics
              FILE - In this May 3, 2012, file photo, President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office as he arrives to speak at a celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Despite a relentless workload ahead, President Barack Obama is lighter on his feet in one sense as he opens his second term. Gone are the hundreds of promises of the past. He’s toting carry-ons instead of heavy cargo this time. Failing to achieve a promised first-term overhaul of immigration law, Obama took stopgap executive action to help as many as 1.7 million younger illegal immigrants stay in the country, and now, after an election marked by Hispanic clout, finds the political landscape more amenable to trying again.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Bengazhi, IRS intimidation scandals to take center stage at Obama press conference Monday

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama will likely face a high-intensity press conference Monday morning, forcing him to address the Benghazi and IRS-intimidation scandals that are plaguing his administration.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Obama will give a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at 11:15 a.m. EST, where a few reporters will be allowed to ask questions.

The questioners will be selected beforehand by the White House, but the two scandals are so prominent that Obama is likely to get a question about each.

On Friday, after news that the IRS targeted conservative groups during the election broke, Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, repeatedly said that the IRS’s actions were “inappropriate.” Carney also portrayed the dramatic changing of the Benghazi talking points as a routine and legitimate editing process that was handled by the CIA.

But GOP leaders, Tea Party activists and even some establishment voices, such as the Washington Post’s editorial page, spent much of Friday and the weekend slamming the IRS’s harassment of the Tea Party groups.

The IRS scandal expanded over the weekend with reports that the IRS’s top lawyer knew about the harassment, and that the IRS hid the scandal from Congress throughout 2012.

Since 2010, IRS inspectors have singled out at least 75 Tea Party groups for special investigations into their compliance with rules for tax-exempt groups. The investigations have been an expensive burden for the Tea Party groups, which were formed to protest expending government power.

There’s no evidence that progressive or union groups were hit with a similar level of IRS scrutiny.

An extensive report into the scandal by the Inspector General of the IRS may be released this week.

The president may also be forced to make a statement about the new revelations that White House officials and State Department officials quickly met with CIA officials to suppress any mention of al Qaeda’s affiliated groups in official bulletins about the Sept. 11 jihadi attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans.

The twin scandals have the potential to complicate Obama’s 2014 efforts to win the approval of GOP legislators for another tax increase, and to pass a Senate-drafted immigration bill that Obama recently labelled as “historic.”

Obama is also pressing ahead with his long-shot effort to win back Democratic control of the House of Representatives.

After the 11:15 press conference, Obama will fly to New York for three gala events that will raise funds for the Democratic party’s 2014 election races. Obama has promised to help Democrats regain control of the House, which would allow him to pass the rest of his agenda in 2015 and 2016.

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