Slatest PM: Jay Carney's Long Afternoon

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 14 2013 5:34 PM

Slatest PM: Jay Carney's Long Afternoon

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, May 14, 2013

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

IRS Allegations Prompt Criminal Investigation: Washington Post: "Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into allegations that Internal Revenue Service officials targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday. In what is the most serious escalation yet of the revelations surrounding the agency, Holder said the Justice Department and FBI would examine whether any laws were violated at the IRS, which has acknowledged that it selected groups with the words 'tea party' and 'patriot' in their names for special audits. ... The criminal probe ensures that the IRS will be the subject of intense attention for the foreseeable future. The agency’s disclosure Friday of its actions created a political firestorm and confirmed suspicions about the agency long held by conservatives and Republican lawmakers."

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Carney's Long Afternoon: Wall Street Journal: "With multiple controversies weighing on the White House, President Barack Obama‘s chief spokesman spent the better part of an hour Tuesday distancing the White House from an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service and lashing out at a Republican-led probe into the administration’s response to the attack on a diplomatic outpost in Libya. 'He has no tolerance for targeting of specific groups, conservative groups, if the reporting is true on this, and he would expect action to be taken,' White House press secretary Jay Carney said in summing up Mr. Obama’s response to the widening investigation .... Mr. Carney was asked whether he could say, categorically, that no one at the White House was involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. Mr. Carney initially said 'yes.' When pressed how he could be certain when the inspector general’s report hasn’t been released, Mr. Carney said 'I am certainly not aware of and am confident that no one here was involved in this'."

Didn't End There: Huffington Post: "Jay Carney endured an unrelenting grilling on Tuesday about what media watchdogs have called unprecedented actions by the Department of Justice to secretly obtain months of Associated Press phone records. Journalists have been outraged since the AP revealed that it had been subjected to the secret probe, which saw the DOJ look at the records for at least 20 of its phone lines and at least six of its individual journalists over a period of at least two months. Carney was asked right away about the White House's view of the situation. In response, he said flatly that there could be no comment, since he was duty-bound to maintain a separation between the White House and the investigation. ... Carney later added about the scandal, 'We don't have any independent knowledge ... [Obama] found out about the news reports yesterday on the road'."

Holder Says He Wasn't Involved: Reuters: "Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he had recused himself from the Justice Department's controversial decision to secretly seize telephone records of the Associated Press as part of a wide-ranging leak investigation. Instead, the decision to seek phone records of one of the world's largest news-gathering organizations was made by Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole, Holder said. ... Lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday criticized the Obama administration's decision to obtain the AP records, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling the Justice Department's actions 'inexcusable.' But in a letter to AP president Gary Pruitt, Cole defended the department's unusual action, saying it was a necessary step in a year-old criminal probe of leaks of classified information."

Happy Tuesday and welcome to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Did the Cleveland Kidnapper Play Favorites? Reuters: "Two of the women imprisoned in a Cleveland house in conditions described as similar to a prisoner of war camp suffered from severe malnutrition and will require long-term therapy for injuries such as hearing loss and joint and muscle damage, two sources with direct knowledge said. The basement where the women were held had chains coming from the wall, and dog leashes attached to the ceiling, the sources said. The women were restrained with them and duct tape in 'stress positions' for long periods that left them with bed sores and other injuries, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation, who asked not to be identified. Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were in worse condition than Amanda Berry when they emerged from at least nine years in captivity at the home of Ariel Castro, accused of kidnapping and raping the women. Castro appeared to treat Berry better than the other two, the sources said."

Russians Expel Amercan Said to Be CIA Agent: New York Times: "Russian officials said on Tuesday that they had caught a C.I.A. officer trying to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer to spy for the United States. They said he was detained on Monday night and then released to the American Embassy in Moscow and ordered to leave the country. The Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., identified the man as Ryan Christopher Fogle and said he had been 'working under the guise of' a diplomat, a third secretary in the political department of the embassy. It said that when Mr. Fogle was detained, he was carrying a large amount of cash, technical devices, items to disguise his appearance and written instructions for a Russian recruit. ... [Russia’s Foreign Ministry] made clear that it viewed the apparent American clandestine effort as a serious slap in the face, after the high level of cooperation between Russia and the United States in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing."

Prince Harry Heads to the Shore: CBS News: "Britain's Prince Harry toured two New Jersey shore communities devastated six months ago by Superstorm Sandy, viewing destroyed homes, walking on a rebuilt boardwalk and shaking hands with emergency personnel and construction workers who have been racing to get the resort towns ready for the summer. In Seaside Heights, where the MTV reality show Jersey Shore was taped, Harry and his tour guide, Gov. Chris Christie, also took part in a game of chance along the boardwalk, throwing perforated plastic balls into holes for prizes, which they handed over to children."

Salt to Taste: New York Times: "In a report that undercuts years of public health warnings, a prestigious group convened by the government says there is no good reason based on health outcomes for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines. Those levels, 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, or a little more than half a teaspoon of salt, were supposed to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people at risk, including anyone older than 50, blacks and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease — a group that makes up more than half of the American population."

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