The current scandals facing President Barack Obama reflect an “arrogance of power” at the White House, House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday.
“When you look at all of this, what you see is an arrogance of power,” the Ohio Republican told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News. “I believe that those of us in public office have a responsibility to be humble, to make sure that we represent the will of the people who sent us there — to be honest with them.
“This arrogance of power that we’re seeing out of this administration — whether it’s Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the fact that the Justice Department is going after the news media — raises some very serious questions,” Boehner added.
Regarding the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea party, conservative and religious organizations in their applications for nonprofit status, Boehner said, “It looks to me as if the IRS has something to hide here.
“The White House has changed the story of what happened, what they knew and when they knew it about a half-a-dozen times already. And this appears that this is a pervasive problem.
“As I said last week, ‘I’m not interested in who’s going to resign. I’m interested in who’s going to jail,’” Boehner said.
“At some point, somebody decided to they were going to hold up tax-exempt status for these groups,” he told Van Susteren. “Somebody made this decision. It wasn’t some low-level employees in Cincinnati. Somebody made this decision — and our job is to find out who and why and how many people were involved in this.”
Boehner said that he currently believed that the Justice Department could sufficiently investigate the IRS. “But Congress has its job to provide oversight — not only of the IRS, but to make sure the investigation is thorough and complete.”
The House Speaker called in “inconceivable” that President Obama did not know about the agency’s singling out of applications from groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names.
“It’s pretty inconceivable to me that the president wouldn’t know,” he told Van Susteren. “I deal with my senior staff every day. If the Treasury Department had known about this — which now appears that they have known about this for about a year — it’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t have come up in some conversation.”
Turning to the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last Sept. 11, Boehner said “there’s a lot more we don’t know.
“Who ordered our rescue team in Tripoli to stand down? When did the president get briefed on the fact that this was a terrorist attack? Why did they continue to try to describe it in some other fashion?
“There’s a lot more that we just don’t know — and the administration doesn’t like the fact that this is an ongoing investigation,” he added. “It’s been going on for eight months because the administration won’t level with the American people and won’t level with the United States Congress.
“If they would come forward with the documents that we’ve been requesting for months, it would be helpful,” Boehner said. “They gave us documents a week ago. It was helpful, but there are a lot more documents that we have requested that they have refused to turn over.”
He believes the four House committees — including the Oversight and Government Reform panel chaired by GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California — are doing a good job probing Benghazi. “I am going to support them.”
Even though House Republicans have been busy with the scandals, “our big job here is to work on jobs,” Boehner said.
“The economy is just not producing jobs like the American people want. We’ve had this anemic economic growth for the last four years — and so while we have constitutional responsibility to provide oversight to the executive branch, that’s not the only thing we do here.”
He cited how legislators are working to get the Canada-to-Nebraska Keystone XL pipeline project approved along with other efforts to “put the American people back to work.
“They may be somewhat of a distraction,” Boehner said of the White House controversies, “but most of our members don’t sit on the committees that are involved in the investigations.
“They’re working on things that actually produce jobs. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
And when asked when he last talked to Obama about jobs, the House Speaker told Van Susteren, “It’s probably been a few months.”
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