On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” former George W. Bush Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former senior adviser to President Barack Obama David Plouffe faced off over whether the Internal Revenue Service’s abuse of its powers to target conservative political groups was a political matter.
According to Plouffe, there were no indications those abuses were politically motivated.
“There’s been no suggestion — the independent, the prosecutor looked at this, excuse me, the inspector general said there was no politics involved in this,” Plouffe said. “No one has indicated at all that the White House is involved. The IRS director was appointed under President [George W.] Bush, served under both presidents, attested…. So this was not a political pursuit.”
But Plouffe’s remarks drew a sharp response from Rove: “Baloney.” This led to a heated exchange between the two.
Partial transcript follows:
ROVE: Baloney. Baloney.
PLOUFFE: Not baloney, Karl.
ROVE: If it was not political then why are only conservative groups being targeted?
PLOUFFE: There were liberal groups targeted.
ROVE: Oh really? Name one. Name one. But what conservative, what liberal group had Tea Party or patriot in its name that it was targeted? Not a single liberal group has appeared to say…
PLOUFFE: You’re taking license here, Karl.
ROVE: No, I’m not. I am not at all.
PLOUFFE: This was not an effort driven by the White House. It would be the dumbest political effort of all time. OK? This was IRS people —
ROVE: I didn’t suggest it was being driven by the White House. But I do think when the President—
PLOUFFE: So you think people sitting in the Cincinnati office decided —
Rove finished up by blaming the president and said those at the top in the Obama administration should have done a better job in policing the IRS.
“No, no, I think people sitting in Cincinnati, Laguna Nigel, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., listened to Sen. Max Baucus, Sen. Chuck Schumer, President Obama,” Rove added. “When President Obama goes out in 2008, 2010 and calls these groups, quote, ‘a threat to democracy,’ he’s blowing the dog whistle.”
“We have a culture at the IRS that has been going after conservative groups,” Rove added. “And this administration has done an ineffective job of managing it. When this issue came up in 2010, if the administration was serious about it, President Obama should have picked up the phone and called Geithner at Treasury and said, ‘You better get your secretary for Treasury or the undersecretary to check into this because this is corrosive of our democracy to have the IRS targeting conservative groups.’”