THE BLOG

Obama Team Fends Off Brewing Scandals

15/05/2013 16:30 BST | Updated 15/07/2013 10:12 BST

In the midst of three growing scandals, Wednesday's White House Press Briefing could mark a fundamental change in the relationship between the Obama Administration and The White House Press Corps.

The revelations regarding the targeting by the IRS of conservative groups for extra scrutiny and the Department of Justice's efforts to investigate the Associated Press by secretly obtaining the work and home phone records of AP reporters, have actually put the Benghazi incident and the Syria Crisis on the back burner.

Wednesday's briefing was a combative one, focusing mainly on the IRS and the AP as Carney did his level best to return endless volleys of questions and accusations coming from The White House Press Corps.

Carney confirmed that to his knowledge "no one from The White House was aware of the IRS matter until a few weeks ago when the Inspector General of the IRS sent their required notice about their investigation to The White House".

Carney emphasized that The White House needs to see the IG's report before they take any action since at present their only source of information is coming from press reports.

He also declined to say what action the President would take if the reports of what occurred were true.

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that FBI and the DOJ are coordinating on a criminal inquiry to see if any laws were in fact broken by the IRS.

Carney also confirmed that The White House learned about the DOJ - AP matter from news reports.

According to reports the DOJ obtained records for over 20 AP related phone lines in their efforts to investigate who leaked classified information relating to the interception of a foiled terrorist plot- similar to the Christmas Bomber.

Carney said that "the information that was leaked is said to have put Americans at risk."

Carney also said "I cannot comment on the DOJ matter because we are not commenting on ongoing criminal investigations".

Carney repeatedly said "The President supports protections for the media to pursue investigative journalism in an unfettered way which needs to be balanced against the need to protect classified information".

The particular leak being investigated was criticized by the Republicans at an earlier date as a leak designed to make the Obama Administration look good. Ironically, it seems now that the very aggressive nature of the investigation itself is coming under intense scrutiny.

Attorney General Holder confirmed that Deputy Attorney General James Cole authorized this action against AP.

AG Holder announced today he is recusing himself from this investigation.

Jay Carney in response to a question confirmed that these latest revelations have not distracted the President from pursing his agenda.

Worth noting, one of the reporters attending today's briefing reminded Carney that the Obama Administration has aggressively prosecuted twice as many leaks as in all prior administrations combined.

Jon-Christopher Bua's blogposts for Sky News appear here.