(CNSNews.com) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday during a press conference on Capitol Hill that the buck doesn't stop with President Barack Obama on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, because he cannot "know about everything that is going on in every agency of government."
"Well, the president doesn’t know about everything that is going on in every agency of government," Pelosi said in response to a reporter asking, “Doesn’t the buck stop with him (Obama)? Shouldn’t he have known about all of these things, but he says he didn’t know about any of this?”
"Should Mr. Boehner have known, because this is his neighboring district in Cincinnati where the IRS office is? I don’t think you can hold him accountable for what happened in that IRS office," Pelosi said.
Pelosi was asked whether the IRS's targeting of conservative groups will hurt the Democrats in the 2014 elections, since the scandal happened on Obama's watch.
Pelosi pointed to President George W. Bush, who appointed IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who served at the agency until November 2012.
"You say it happened on his watch. It happened on the appointment of the head of the IRS, who was appointed by President Bush," Pelosi said. "His length of stay extended into President Obama’s stay, but I think that that points to the fact that, why is this a politicized issue, because we all are concerned about how the IRS does what it’s supposed to do, supports the law, but does not do it in a selective way.
“I’ve said before, what they did was wrong, the inspector general has said over and over it is not illegal, but the committee wants to challenge the inspector general on his findings, so that will unfold," the congresswoman said.
"But again, the IRS is an independent agency, so the inference to be drawn from it happened on his watch is that it happened on his watch the way some other cabinet and agency of government would," Pelosi said. "No. This is an independent agency, headed up by a Bush appointee.
“What they did was wrong. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Selective review – we don’t like it on our side. We don’t like it on their side. It has no place."
A reporter then asked, "Doesn’t the buck stop with him (Obama)? Shouldn’t he have known about all of these things, but he says he didn’t know about any of this."
Pelosi said Obama should not be held accountable any more than speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).
"Well, the president doesn’t know about everything that is going on in every agency of government," Pelosi said. "Should Mr. Boehner have known because this is his neighboring district in Cincinnati where the IRS office is? I don’t think you can hold him accountable for what happened in that IRS office."
"I think that obviously the public will make its decision about it, but that’s it," she said. "A Bush appointee – under his leadership this happened. It was wrong. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again."
President Obama said he was "outraged" to learn about the IRS subjecting Tea Party groups to greater scrutiny when applying for tax-exempt status, but he said he only learned about it when it was made public by an IRS apology on May 10.
That apology, given by IRS official Lois Lerner, came ahead of the Treasury inspector general's audit, which revealed groups with names such as "patriot," and "Tea Party," were targeted during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
In a hearing before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform on Wednesday, Shulman, who visited the White House at least 118 times during his tenure, said he "certainly did not believe" he ever had conversations about the scandal with the president.
Pelosi's defense of Obama is similar to former senior advisor David Axelrod, who said Obama cannot keep track of the scandals because the government is "so vast."
"Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know, because the government is so vast,” Axelrod said.