“In 2010, Max Baucus … wrote a letter to the director of the IRS saying, ‘go investigate these kinds of groups.’ We had Chuck Schumer, who has been stirring this around for a number of years, by 2012 he goes out and gives a similar tough letter to the head of the IRS saying, ‘Look at these groups,’ and gets six others to sign the letter,” Rove said.
The letter, obtained by ABC News, warns of "abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities."
Rove suggested Tuesday that the letter may have spurred the political targeting.
“Maybe the low-level bureaucrats aren’t so low level and maybe they were influenced by Democrats in the Congress saying take on these groups or else you will face the consequences in front of us," he said.
A report from the Treasury Department's inspector general that was leaked Monday revealed that the misbehavior began as early as 2010, and found that it was driven by "ineffective management" rather than outside political forces.
President Obama said in a statement Tuesday night that the actions were "intolerable and inexcusable" and vowed accountability for the employees involved.
"I’ve directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again," Obama said. "But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong.”