All In   |  May 15, 2013

White House presents new developments in IRS, Benghazi stories

On the same day the White House released 100 pages of emails showing there was no coverup of the Benghazi attack or in the administration talking points about the attack, President Obama went before cameras to announce the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS. Chris Hayes talks to NBC's Peter Alexander and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston about the implications of both.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes , and thank you for joining us on a night when we have big breaking news out of the white house on two different fronts. today the white house released 100 pages of e-mails of the administration's internal discussions over the benghazi attacks, e-mails that show, are you ready for this, the sound and fury over the administration's characterization of the tragedy is still much adieu about nothing. we'll get to that.

>>> but this evening, president obama also addressed the irs screening of certain right wing groups for extra scrutiny and announced his reaction to the treasury department 's review.

>> i've reviewed the treasury department watchdog's report, and the misconduct that uncovered is unexcusable. it's inexcusable and americans are right to be angry about it, and i am angry about it. today, secretary lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the acting commissioner of the irs . we're going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. we will work with congress as it performs its oversight role, and our administration has to make sure that we are working hand-in-hand with congress to get this thing fixed. the good news is, it's fixable.

>> so, irs acting commissioner steven miller is out, if you had that in your own personal who will go pool, you win. he will be stepping down in early june. and the congressional oversight to which president obama refers has barely begun. in fact, miller himself is still scheduled to testify on capitol hill on friday. let's bring in nbc white house correspondent peter alexander and david k. johnson, columnist for peter, you got your hands on the e-mails. there they are. you've read through them. what do we learn from them?

>> first of all, chris, here are the 100 pages of e-mails, okay, and what they effectively do is lay out the jostling that took place between intelligence officials and diplomatic officials. these e-mails show exchanges between officials at the white house , the cia , and the state department over exactly what should be said in those talking points , the ones would be first provided to a house intelligence committee , but also provided to susan rice on that sunday following the benghazi attack. and i think the most significant lesson that we learn from reading these documents at this point is at least according to a senior administration official, that they say even though there was a lot of evidence that the state department , we reported, wanted changes, a senior intelligence official says specifically that they wanted the same changes independently of the state department and that they proactively made those changes. in these documents, we see one of the versions of the talking points , where then deputy cia director mike morel had crossed out a lot of the language in there, specifically language that referred to al qaeda and referred to past cia warnings. the concern among senior administration officials who tell nbc news this was that they didn't want to prejudice the fbi investigation that was under way at the time, but we also see language in here that shows jostling between the top two people at the cia , mike morel and then the cia director , david petraeus , david petraeus , after all the e-mails are in the eyes of republicans scrub said the following in one of these e-mails, he says, "i just as soon not use these." that's what critics are pouncing on tonight. an assertion they believe because there's no evidence that the cia officials actually independently wanted these changes. that's just what they told us in this private briefing. there's no evidence of that. and these e-mails, they believe the white house and state department played a significant role in this process.

>> not surprising critics still believe that. i've reviewed some of them, and what strikes me is what you have is a situation of a white house trying to referee a whole -- herding a whole lot of cats that have different stakes on this issue and what ultimately happens in any of these situations if you've ever been part of collaborative process, cooperation, where everybody's got a veto is you go to the lowest common denominator, which is to say the least amount possible, which is what it looks like to me from going through the e-mails today. david , i want to turn to you on the question of the irs and steven miller 's exit. my understanding is steven miller was not the guy overseeing the irs when any of this happened, so it doesn't necessarily seem like the most -- it's a swift decision by the president. it's definitely decisive. it definitely communicates that he's serious about this, but he was not the guy in charge of the irs when all of this went down.

>> no. a bush appointee, doug shulman, was, and miller was fired. there's no two ways about it. they fired him. the amazing part of this is, lois lerner , she's the one who was in the loop. she's the one who bungled this. the irs confirmed to me tonight she has not resigned. that is absolutely appalling, and i will be very surprised if 24 hours from now ms. lerner has not resigned. if she hasn't, i think that would be very dishonorable of her.

>> and you say that because as far as we know from the i.g. report, reporting that's come out, the furthest up this really went was to lerner . she was the furthest up in the chain who really knew what was going on as it was playing out.

>> that's correct. and lerner also made misleading statements last friday to reporters and the conversation i was on where she tried to slip away . i said, no, you stay and finish answering our questions. she said she learned of this from news reports. the report makes it clear, that's not true. and i don't see how you can lead this organization having made a false statement like that, and on top of that, it's not a first time a journalist has complained about false statements by her. but on top of that, she's the person who is where the buck stops.

>> yeah. well, nbc 's peter alexander and david k. johnson, thank you for the briefing on tonight's breaking news. really appreciate it.

>> thank you.

>> thank you.

>>> we have a big show still ahead. the one and only rachel maddow joins me next and kirsten gillibrand by another case of sexual assault in the military.

>>> plus, i'll talk with a man who's now free after spending hard time in prison from trying to stop the bush administration from giving away public land to big polluters, so stay with us. .