Fox News' Continued Calls For Special Prosecutor Ignores Legal DeterminationMay 20, 2013 5:14 PM EDT ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE
Fox News continued to push for a special prosecutor following reports that the White House chief counsel knew of an IRS investigation but did not inform the president, a claim that ignores the legal and political problems raised by involving a president in an ongoing investigation.
On Fox News' Happening Now, contributor Nina Easton reported that White House chief counsel Kathryn Ruemmler knew about the investigation into claims that the IRS delayed approval of nonprofit status to conservative groups. After host Jon Scott asked why Ruemmler would know about the investigation and not inform Obama, Easton claimed a special prosecutor should be assigned to find out if the White House was being dishonest about when the president had been informed.
EASTON: I think this all feeds Senator Rob Portman's call this weekend for the need for a special counsel.
A special counsel could be bad news for the administration because whenever a special counsel gets into a situation, it becomes not only "who knew what when," but "are you providing a truthful rendering of events that have occurred?"
But Easton's call for a special prosecutor ignores the actual reason the president was not informed- to avoid the appearance of influencing an independent investigation. The Wall Street Journal quoted two former White House officials who pointed out that the White House counsel made the right decision to allow the investigation to conclude before informing the president:
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was notified in a March 2013 meeting with the Treasury inspector general for the IRS that an audit was "forthcoming," according to the Treasury Department. But at that meeting, the inspector general didn't provide details of his findings, the Treasury said.
Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel under former President Bill Clinton, said Ms. Ruemmler's office acted correctly in not sharing the information directly with the president.
If she had instead gotten "involved and called people over to the White House for a full briefing to know all the details, you know what we'd be talking about now? We'd be talking about whether she had tried to interfere with the IG's investigation," Mr. Quinn said.
John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under Mr. Clinton, said: "The worst thing is if you do anything that is perceived to be interfering with an independent investigation" especially if it isn't fully complete. "That gets you in such trouble your head spins."