Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Monday exposed new details about the growing scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservatives. The correspondent revealed, "I've obtained a soon-to-be released investigative report that shows the IRS started targeting Tea Party groups more than three years ago." He added that this was "despite [the IRS] publicly claiming otherwise."
According to the journalist, phrases such as "limiting government," "educating on the Bill of Rights" and "criticizing how the country is being run" were enough to have the IRS start tracking them. However, Karl steered clear of culpability when it came to the Obama administration. He explained, "The White House said it had no idea that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups." [MP3 audio here. See video below.]
George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative, focused his question on how scandals such as the IRS and Benghazi will hamper Obama's political agenda: "...The IRS, these questions about Benghazi, trying to get the health care program back up and running. Do they have a plan to get back on offense now at the start of the second term?"
Shouldn't Stephanopoulos's real concern be on what are the facts are?
In the ABCNews.com version, Karl revealed:
By June 2011, the unit had flagged over 100 Tea Party-related applications and the criteria used to scrutinize organizations had grown considerably, flagging not just "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in group names, but also groups that were working on issues like "government debt," "taxes" and even organizations making statements that "criticize how the country is being run."
Today's scoop is Karl's second inside a week. On Friday, he revealed that CIA talking points in relation to the terrorist attack in Libya had been severely edited by the Obama administration.
A transcript of the May 13 segment is below:
ABC GRAPHIC: IRS Targeted Conservative Groups: President Will Take Questions Today
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to the White House under fire on several fronts as the President struggles to get traction for his second term. The latest headache, revelations that the IRS has been targeting conservative groups, like the Tea Party for extra scrutiny. ABC's chief White House correspondent Jon Karl has the latest on that. And Jon, you've dug up some information overnight that this targeting began earlier than we thought.
JON KARL: That's right, George. I've obtained a soon-to-be released investigative report that shows the IRS started targeting Tea Party groups more than three years ago. And that among the criteria they used was to target groups that were critical of the way the country is being run. Despite publicly claiming otherwise, the new report obtained by ABC News, shows the IRS began targeting conservative groups as far back as 2010 and that senior IRS officials have known about if or two years. The IRS recently acknowledged targeting groups with Tea Party or patriot in their names. This morning, ABC has learned the new report goes further. A draft of that document prepared by the IRS's internal watchdog says that the IRS was also tracking groups whose goals include, quote, "limiting government" and "educating on the Constitution or Bill of Rights" and even groups that, quote, "criticize how the country is being run. On Friday, the White House said it had no idea that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups.
JAY CARNEY: There is no question that if this activity took place, it's inappropriate and there needs to be action taken.
KARL: The IRS isn't the only headache for the White House, which continues to take heat about the extensive editing of the CIA talking points it used to describe the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya last September.
JOHN MCCAIN: I would call it a coverup to the extent that there was willful removal of information which was obvious. It was obvious!
KARL: The President will have a chance to respond to this later this morning when he has a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: But more broadly, Jon, the IRS, these questions about Benghazi, trying to get the health care program back up and running. Do they have a plan to get back on offense now at the start of the second term?
KARL: Well, the big thing is to respond and move on. They believe that they can weather this stuff, that they need to quickly, kind of, respond and get on to their agenda. But, George, I sense no overarching plan to move on except to try and keep talking about their agenda.