Investigate and let those chips fall where they may

Among troubling aspects of the Internal Revenue Service scandal is that since it began making headlines, they have moved closer and closer to President Barack Obama. That is a pattern in common with several other White House scandals in the past.

Also in common have been denials, step by step, that wrongdoing reached high levels of government.

When IRS harassment of conservative groups was revealed, the administration’s claim was that only “low-level” employees at the agency’s Cincinnati office were aware of and participating in it.

But by about two weeks ago, it had been revealed – by press investigating, not a forthcoming attitude in the Obama administration – that IRS Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin was aware of the scandal by no later than June 2012. That was before the November election in which Obama won re-election.

It strains credulity to the breaking point to believe Obama was not made aware of the situation. One common trait of presidents for many years has been complete intolerance of aides who keep them in the dark about scandals that could threaten their re-election plans.

And remember, it has been just weeks since the IRS scandal was claimed to be a matter purely involving “low-level” employees. Already it has moved next door to the Cabinet Room in the White House.

The attempted coverup concerning the terrorist attack on Sept. 11 – also just weeks before the election – of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is another example of a scandal the administration at first dodged entirely, then attempted to pin on relatively low-level officials. At last report, then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had insisted on editing “talking points” about the attack to remove some references to terrorists – purely for political reasons. That revelation moved the Benghazi coverup, too, closer to the White House.

Those and other controversies continue to smolder. It is time for Congress to insist on investigations of all of them – even if the “chips” fall in the Oval Office.