Steven Miller, the acting director of the Internal Revenue Service, was fired Wednesday as a result of the findings of a Treasury Department watchdog investigation that found the tax collection agency had improperly targeted conservative political groups applying for tax-exempt status. President Barack Obama made the announcement in a three-minute statement at the White House and vowed to restore confidence in the IRS despite the "inexcusable" behavior that took place.
"I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and new safety guards and going forward by making sure that the law is applied as it should be, in a fair and impartial way," he said.
Obama also pledged to work closely with Congress in implementing the recommendations of a Treasury Department Inspector General report publicly released Tuesday that found fault with the extended scrutiny the IRS gave to groups applying for 501(c)(4) status with names that included the words "tea party," "patriot" or "9/12."
The revelations had lawmakers on both sides of the aisle up in arms and Attorney General Eric Holder received a bipartisan grilling during his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. He said Tuesday the FBI had initiated an investigation into whether or not the IRS agents had violated any laws.
"Our administration has to make sure it's working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed," Obama said. "In Congress, Democrats and Republicans owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility that it deserves in a way that doesn't smack of politics or partisan agendas."
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the president set "exactly the right tone" by announcing Miller's firing.
"The immediate relieving of an acting commissioner who had made false statements and mislead Congress is an extremely good first step," he said. "The IRS is definitely an issue in which what happens wrong today can happen wrong tomorrow to a different group of Americans, so I think the president is going to find very willing partners on Capitol Hill. I think in this case we very much take him at his word that he wants to be open and transparent in fixing the system and putting new controls in place."
Obama took no questions during his brief announcement, but said he would during a news conference scheduled for Thursday.