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Priebus: Issa will have ‘quite a summer’ investigating Obama

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Lawmakers are probing the IRS decision to target Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status with higher scrutiny, questioning when senior Treasury and White House officials first learned about those actions and what steps they took to stop them.

The administration has said Obama only learned about the IRS targeting when the public did. Last week, press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged senior White House officials, including counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, knew about an inspector general report detailing the targeting, but decided not to tell the president. 

Carney said the decision was made to avoid the impression of interference in an ongoing investigation, but some GOP lawmakers have suggested an effort to shield Obama from the embarrassing scandal.

“If the president actually knew something, well then clearly he’s not being truthful and no one around him is,” Priebus said on Tuesday. “If he didn’t know anything then it suggests a level of aloofness or perhaps even incompetence that I think is pretty disturbing.”

Lawmakers are continuing their investigation over the Memorial Day recess, identifying further witnesses and gathering evidence for a new round of hearings. 

"I’ll be working full time,” Issa said last week. 

The Oversight chairman has already said he intends to bring back IRS official Lois Lerner, who while denying wrongdoing, pleaded the Fifth during a hearing last week. 

Priebus also defended his efforts to rebrand the GOP, responding to comments from former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) that centrist Republicans no longer had a place in the party.

“Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it,” said Dole in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs, until New Year’s Day next year, and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas,” Dole added.

Priebus said that the RNC had already begun speaking to voters around the country to make the party more competitive and expressed optimism about the GOP’s chances in next year’s midterm elections. 

“We’ve spent almost the first half of this year talking to 52,000 people about what we can do better,” Priebus said.

“We’ve got to hold the House and win the Senate, so closing in his [Dole’s] mind means doing some reflection, making some big time improvement and getting better at presidential elections, but in the midterms I expect us to do very well.”