1) One head rolls: As the Internal Revenue Service came under fire for singling out Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny and audits, the acting IRS commissioner announced his resignation at the request of the Treasury Secretary. Obama had not appointed a permanent IRS commissioner but now reportedly plans to do so this week.
2) One document dump: While controversy raged over whether the State Department and/or White House role in doctoring talking points about the fatal attacks against a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya last September, the White House released emails last night showing the back-and-forth between government officials over how the event should be portrayed to the public. The emails are here. Republicans say they emails contradict statements by White House spokesman, Jay Carney, who had minimized the role of the State Department in changing wording put out by the CIA. Some critics are also calling for Carney to step down.
3) One legislative initiative: Amidst outrage over Justice Department seizures of extensive telephone records of journalists at the Associated Press in connection with a leak investigation, the administration yesterday asked lawmakers to pass a media “Shield Law” that would give reporters more power to protect their sources.
The moves show that the White House recognizes the seriousness of the collective controversies now sucking most of the oxygen out of Washington, DC. But they won’t end them. The first congressional hearing into the IRS actions will be held on Friday, adding new fuel to that fire. The emails around Benghazi have raised new questions and put additional pressure on the White House spokesman. And media organizations are demanding to know whether other journalists, beyond the AP, have had their phone records seized and scrutinized by the government without their knowledge.