House Speaker John Boehner says it's "inconceivable" that President Barack Obama didn't know about the IRS targeting of conservative groups, considering how many administration officials were aware of an investigation into the matter.
"With as many people that were involved in the audit, the number of people involved in the investigation — and the number of people in the White House that knew, it really is inconceivable that he wouldn't have known about it," Boehner said Wednesday in an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren.
Boehner said former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "has known about this for some time, as well. And if he knew about it, why wouldn't he have passed it on to the president of the United States?"
"Looks to me like the IRS has got something to hide here," the Ohio Republican added. "The White House has changed the story of what happened and what they knew and when they knew it about half a dozen times already."
Boehner's comments came hours after Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where she made a brief statement asserting she did nothing wrong and then refused to answer questions by invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
To Boehner, it was another example of the IRS stonewalling Congressional committees looking into the matter.
"We've had two committees that have worked on this for over two years," said Boehner. "They've had hearings about this and could never, never pierce the veil. So there's a lot of testimony that we've heard over the last two years, a lot of mail that we've gotten back from the IRS, where they basically have stonewalled this."
The speaker rejected the notion that the targeting effort aimed at nonprofit groups applying for tax exempt status was conceived and carried out by low-level IRS staffers.
"At some point, somebody decided that they were going to hold up ... tax-exempt status [for tea party and other conservative groups], and somebody made the decision," Boehner said."It wasn't some low-level employees in Cincinnati."
Boehner said the IRS abuses, along with other scandals, demonstrate an "an arrogance of power" by the administration.
"And this arrogance of power that we're seeing out of this administration, whether it be Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the fact that the Justice Department is going after the news media, raises some very serious questions."
He added, "They better have some big answers for the Congress and for the American people."
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