Fox News host Sean Hannity attacked Stephanie Cutter, former assistant to the president for special projects, for meeting with the former IRS commissioner, suggesting she was involved in the controversy involving inappropriate political targeting of conservative groups. But Cutter has made clear that she was meeting with the former commissioner to discuss health care implementation, which was a key part of her White House role.
Hannity Stoked Fears That Cutter Met With Ex-IRS Head To Coordinate Conservative Group Targeting
Hannity: "I Think The Biggest News That Came Out -- Stephanie Cutter Met With The IRS Chairman." On the June 3 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity suggested that Cutter met with former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to coordinate the targeting of conservative groups:
HANNITY: What do you take out of Carney's statements that nobody in the White House knew then we found out the White House Counsel knew, then she told the chief of staff. I think the biggest news that came out -- Stephanie Cutter met with the IRS chairman. That's part of the political camp - - she is the deputy campaign manager, again, we were told by Carney, that never happened.
LIZ CHENEY: No. It's absolutely inexplicable that the IRS commissioner would be at the White House 157 times. I mean, most administrations, most honest administrations make a big effort to separate out what is happening in the White House from the IRS. The IRS is supposed to be an independent agency. We're not supposed to be in a situation where the president is using the IRS to go after his enemies.
And when you have members of his political campaign meeting with the head of the IRS, you know there is something very fishy going on. But I would also say people should look at this frankly, those of us who are conservatives, those of us who are patriots, those of us who agree with what the tea party stands for, you know, and take comfort in the fact that the administration would not be targeting us if they weren't worried about our power.
If they weren't worried about the power of these organizations to make real change and frankly to interfere with their plans for the nation so it should give people hope in terms of our ability to affect the future here.
HANNITY: Let me go to this issue of the 157 visits by the head of IRS to the White House because in the Bush years there was one visit. So if we want to -- as a comparison, Hillary went to visit Obama in the White House 43 times, Tim Geithner 48 times, and the IRS commissioner 157? Then he scoffs up by saying, well, I went to an Easter Egg roll -- how damaging or alarming is that number especially compared to the Bush years?
CHENEY: Well, you can't explain it. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/3/13]
In Fact, Cutter Met With Ex-IRS Head To Discuss Health Care Implementation As Part Of Her White House Role
Cutter: "Many Of Those Meetings Were For Health Care Implementation." Cutter explained that she was meeting with the former IRS Commissioner to discuss health care implementation and there was "nothing nefarious going on." On the May 31 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, Cutter said:
CUTTER: What we're looking at are the number of times Mr. Shulman was cleared into the White House. It doesn't necessarily mean he went to a meeting.
Number three, many of those meetings were for health care implementation. I was in them with him. So there is nothing nefarious going on. [CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 5/31/13, via Nexis]
In White House Role, Cutter Focused On "Outreach Strategies Around Priority Initiatives Including The Implementation Of The Affordable Care Act." According to her White House bio, Cutter "served as Assistant to the President for Special Projects, focusing on Administration wide communications and outreach strategies around priority initiatives including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the President's State of the Union Address." [WhiteHouse.gov, accessed 6/4/13]