Obama backs no corruption claim for IRS

By By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON  — For months, congressional Republicans have been asking about a criminal investigation into the Internal

Revenue Service targeting tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.

The Justice Department's uniform response: Can't talk, it's an ongoing investigation.

But over the weekend, President Barack Obama wasn't so reticent.

In an interview with Bill O'Reilly during Fox's Super Bowl pregame show, the president said there's "not even a smidgen" of

corruption contributing to the IRS targeting.

On Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked how the president could be so sure about

that. Deputy Attorney General James Cole told the congressman to check with the White House.

On Monday, the White House had said public testimony and the Justice Department's inspector general completely back up what

the president said.

"Doesn't the president prejudge that investigation when he tells Bill O'Reilly there's not a smidgen of corruption?" a reporter

asked spokesman Jay Carney.

"Every look at this, every investigation into this, and everything we've learned about this is that this is not something

that in any way reached outside of the IRS," said Carney.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pressing the

department to send a Justice Department lawyer in the IRS probe, Barbara

Bosserman,

to come testify before the committee. The Justice Department has

declined, saying the probe is ongoing. Jordan and Rep. Darrell

Issa, R-Calif., allege that the investigation is compromised

because Bosserman contributed $6,750 to Obama's campaign in 2012

and to the Democratic National Committee.