OTR Interviews

'Phony scandals'? There's nothing phony about four dead Americans in Benghazi, the IRS targeting people, Mr. President

President Obama and the White House complain that their agenda has been repeatedly sidetracked by 'phony scandals.' But these troubles can all go away with some straight answers


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 24, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you think the IRS scandal is phony? Jay Carney answered that specific question.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What we've seen is inappropriate activity that the president came out and forcefully said he would not tolerate, and that he installed somebody at the IRS to take care of.

What we have seen from Republicans is cherry-picked information based on investigations that turns out to be only one side of the story. It's demonstrated by the way that the press has, you know, gotten extremely excited about the potential for a scandal, and basically dropped it when the facts have come out.

The president will not tolerate poor performance or inappropriate activity at any agency, and when he finds out about it, he acts on it. But he's focused on the economy, Joe. He's not focused on, you know, pretend scandals that Republicans on Capitol Hill...

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Right. So I want to get to the economy, Jay, but I...

CARNEY: ... want to turn into partisan skirmishes.


VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman Trey Gowdy joins us. And obviously, he got the memo. He used the term "phony scandals" just like the president says phony. Your response to the press secretary.

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C: There is nothing phony about four murdered Americans in Benghazi, and if he thinks there is, I'd encourage him to look at the autopsy photos. There's nothing phony about Brian Terry's murder at the border. There's nothing phony about IRS targeting people based on ideology. There's nothing phony about an NSA program that almost failed on the House floor because people don't trust his administration. There's nothing phony about bonuses being paid to IRS employees.

So whether you want to go "Fast and Furious," Benghazi, IRS, NSA, ObamaCare" with enroll America, people have begun to lose trust in the institutions of government. And if they want to use the word phony for that, they need to get out of Washington more and go to real America!

VAN SUSTEREN: I'll tell you what I thought was funny, and I thought perhaps worst thing that Jay Carney says is -- he said, I think what we've seen is inappropriate activity that the president came out and forcefully said he would not tolerate.

So what if he forcefully says it? Why doesn't he do something! I mean, like, instead, I mean, they denied it. They did the silly story on the video, the IRS thing, I've got all the notes from Jay Carney, May 20th, May 21st. He says it's some basically rogue agents in Cincinnati. That's not true. I mean, it's, like, you know, they almost -- you know, they almost spit in your face like you're stupid or something!

GOWDY: Well, there have been six iterations of a defense in the IRS case. But remember, Lois Lerner disclosed this at an ABA conference with a planted question.

VAN SUSTEREN: By a trick.

GOWDY: That's how we learned about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: That was a trick!

GOWDY: Right. Then we went into, it was two rogue agents, and Jay Carney himself repeated that false narrative, and others in the administration have. Then it went to, Well, it was some progressive groups that were targeted too, not just conservative groups. So as long as we treat two different sets of people improperly, at least it's not discrimination.

And now the new defense is, Well, the president himself didn't know about it. Greta, if that's the new standard for propriety in this town, that the president himself didn't know about it?

VAN SUSTEREN: Here -- here's the other thing I think people are missing about the IRS thing, is that it isn't so much that they sort of -- I mean, well, it is, actually -- it's if they had been denied right at the get-go, then they could have appealed it to another -- another part of the IRS. But instead, what this was so sadistic about this and so painful, is that they just dragged it out so they -- so they were sort of in this no- man's-land, and they couldn't appeal it.

So by having notices -- they would have been far better off if the IRS agents, whoever was involved in this, well, however high it went -- if they simply said no and denied it so they could appealed them. Instead, they strung them out!

GOWDY: And that suggests even more culpability because you're right. In some instances, people just gave up. And these are average, ordinary citizens who want to become engaged in the political process. And they do what they're supposed to do, which is file an application, and they're given a set of questions that in the past, no one else had been given, and they're slow-walked. And some of them just wind up giving up, and all they wanted to do was participate, just participate in the political process! I thought we encouraged that in this country!

VAN SUSTEREN: I'd like to have the president sit down and Jay Carney sit down with some of these Americans -- I've met some of them -- and say that their real concerns, whether it's, you know, an IRS concern or a border agent family and say that their problems are phony! That's what I'd like. I'd like to have the president have the guts to look some of these people in the face who really believe in whatever they're doing, whatever they're pursuing, that they're problems are phony!

GOWDY: Well, I'll tell you this, Greta. You were in the criminal justice system. I was, too. If you want to sit down with Brian Terry's mother and look her in the eyes and say that this scandal is phony, Fast and Furious -- or how about the innocent Mexicans who we don't know their names, but at least 200, who have been killed because of guns we sent into Mexico and call that phony! Or four murdered Americans who went because we asked them to represent us in a foreign land, and their world is set on fire and they're murdered in Libya!

You go call that phony! I dare him to look Ty Woods's father in the face and say this is a phony scandal!

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what the whole -- the whole thing -- all these scandals could be resolved very quickly with true transparency. You know, the -- you know, having to, like, sort of pull information, like -- you know, like, you're pulling teeth -- that's what drags them out and all this sort of false -- you know, the things where they sort of divert you onto videos or Cincinnati or whatever -- that's what drags these out, is the lack of -- you know, like, if they had just put the information out on day one, that would be the end of it.

GOWDY: This is what I love about the American people. They are forgiving. If you make a mistake, they will forgive you. What they will not forgive you for is lying to them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you. Always nice to see you, sir.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.