Update: Thursday afternoon President Obama announced the appointment of Daniel Werfel as Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue as of May 22. This story and the headline have been updated to reflect this.
President Obama announced Wednesday evening that, due to the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had requested and accepted the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller.
“First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable,” the president said.
“Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward,” he added.
But according to a source close to Miller, the requested resignation is something of a hollow gesture, as Miller was set to step down in June anyway.
“This whole idea that ‘oh, the president is taking this big step’ is a bit misleading because he was going to be stepping down as of early June anyway because his term as acting commissioner was going to be over.”
“This step by the White House is less about actually removing somebody than removing somebody who was about to step down anyway,” the source close to Miller added.
Further, Miller is set to remain as acting IRS commissioner into next week, the source noted.
“[H]e is still the acting commissioner and he will be until at least next week and probably, potentially until June 1st,” the source said. “So there was the suggestion that he was forced to resign immediately — that is not true.”
Indeed, Miller wanted to stay on as acting commissioner so that he could go to the hearings and testify.
“He wants to testify,” the source asserted, “because he thinks it is his job as IRS commissioner, he has already taken responsibility for a lot of what has happened in terms of the mistakes that were made by underlings.”
Miller had only been acting commissioner since November 2012 after Commissioner Douglas Shulman stepped down. The targeting of conservatives began in 2010.
“The White House pretty clearly wanted to, were hoping to fire him, or have him resign in the hope to head off the hearings,” the source added, reiterating that Miller wants to testify before Congress.
“[The White House] was thinking they fire this guy, throw his body to the wolves, and everything goes away,” the source added.
Miller is testifying Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee and will still be the acting commissioner.
Miller has retained former Special Counsel and Deputy Counsel to former President George W. Bush, William Burck, as his personal counsel.