House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a fierce critic of the Obama administration, branded White House press secretary Jay Carney a "paid liar" this past weekend, accusing him of covering up what Issa believes was a coordinated effort to use the Internal Revenue Service to target conservatives.
But when given the opportunity to respond to Issa's attack at Monday's press briefing, Carney dismissed it.
"I hadn’t heard that. That’s amazing," Carney joked when asked about the fiery comments, eliciting laughs from reporters gathered in the Brady Press Briefing Room. Carney then deflected questions about Issa's accusation, saying, "I’m not going to get into a back and forth with Chairman Issa," and he repeated that same turn of phrase throughout questioning about Issa from four different reporters.
Issa, on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, said that the IRS targeting effort was "a problem that was coordinated, in all likelihood, right out of Washington headquarters" and that Carney is the administration's "paid liar" and is covering it up.
Republican senators including John McCain of Arizona, former Obama senior adviser David Plouffe and former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs criticized Issa's choice of words.
Carney also declined to say whether he spoke with Obama about Issa's attack and stated that the comments he believes Issa and other critics take issue with are quotes Carney repeated from the inspector general's report, which found no evidence of influence or pressure from higher-ups on the IRS officials who targeted conservatives.
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George and the IRS’s new acting Commissioner Danny Werfel on Monday head to the fourth Capitol Hill hearing on the IRS scandal. Monday's hearing is being held by a House Appropriations subcommittee.