Ruders - Our dog died a few days ago. He was hit by a car. The suddeness of it all, having a pet one minute and being gone the next, has been really difficult (but ...
5 years ago
The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow. What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were.You know what this is: Stop looking at what I did, and start looking at the people accusing me of wrongdoing. We've seen this tactic before: "The vast right-wing conspiracy."
No, the folks on the ground understood what was taking place. They just said so before Congress and a lot of television cameras. Why is the president confused about this? Obama continues:It happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo as a consequence of this film. And nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days.
The motivations and fundraising of those who disagree with you are irrelevant to whether or not you're telling the truth, Mr. President.And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations. We've had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton's integrity, Susan Rice's integrity, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering's integrity. It's a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks. They've used it for fundraising.
Lois Lerner, head of the IRS division on tax-exempt organizations, learned in June 2011 that agents had targeted groups with names including "Tea Party" and "Patriots," according to the draft obtained by NBC News.She "instructed that the criteria immediately be revised," according to the draft. Ten months later, in March 2012, the IRS commissioner at the time, Douglas Shulman, testified to Congress that the IRS was not targeting tax-exempt groups based on their politics.The IRS said over the weekend that senior executives were not aware of the targeting, but it remains unclear who knew what and when. [Then IRS commissioner] Shulman, who left the agency last fall, has not spoken publicly about the scandal and did not answer a request for commentfrom NBC News.Members of Congress had sent letters to Shulman as early as June 2011 asking specifically about targeting of conservative groups, according to a House Ways and Means Committee summary obtained by NBC News.The IRS responded at least six times but made no mention of targeting conservatives, according to the committee's summary.
Journalists reacted with shock and outrage at the news that the Justice Department had secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.The AP broke the newsabout what it called an "unprecedented intrusion" into its operation. It said that the DOJ had obtained detailed phone records from over 20 different lines, potentially monitoring hundreds of different journalists without notifying the organization. The wire service's president, Gary Pruitt, wrote a blistering letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the DOJ of violating the AP's constitutional rights.Reporters and commentators outside the AP professed themselves to be equally angered. "The Nixon comparisons write themselves," BuzzFeed's Ben Smith tweeted. Margaret Sullivan, the public editor for the New York Times, called the story "disturbing." Washington Post editor Martin Baron called it "shocking." CNN's John King described it as "very chilling."Speaking to the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, a lawyer for the AP called the DOJ's actions "outrageous," saying they were "a dagger to the heart of AP's newsgathering activity."BuzzFeed's Kate Nocera was perhaps more pithy, writing simply, "what in the f--k."
Leaders in Congress are questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's solicitation of funds from private businesses and charities to help pay for public outreach on Obamacare to get prospective enrollees signed up for health exchanges.Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, ranking Republican on the Senate Health committee, told the New York Times he plans to ask the Government Accountability Office to check the legality of Sebelius's actions, done after Congress denied the administration funds for public outreach in the 2014 budget. The Washington Post also said that Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, top Republican on the Finance Committee, questioned the legality of the action.The Times said Sebelius obtained $10 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and $500,000 from H&R Block for the effort. HHS officials said that Sebelius's efforts would continue, after first denying they were soliciting funds for the effort. But a spokesman for Sebelius said a section of the Public Health Service Act allows her to encourage others to support those working to help carry out public health activities.
A flack for Sebelius tells the Post that . . . Sebelius did not explicitly ask for financial donations. Instead, "[HHS spokesperson Jason] said that Sebelius did not solicit for funds directly from industries that HHS regulates, such as insurance companies and hospitals, but rather asked them to contribute in whatever way they can."That's not how the insurers understood it. An "industry official who had knowledge of the calls but did not participate directly in them said there was a clear insinuation by the administration that the insurers should give financially to the nonprofits," according to the Post. Something like this, perhaps? Hey, we're short on money here. It would be nice if you could help with whatever you can, hint-hint, nudge-nudge.Or maybe just: Hey, insurers. We just passed a law mandating that everyone in the country buy your product. So how about a million bucks? Or even a couple million? Over the weekend The New York Times reported that, according to an insurance industry executive, "some insurers had been asked for $1 million donations, and that 'bigger companies have been asked for a lot more.'" That sounds rather like there was a direct solicitation.