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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 31st, 2013
05:26 PM ET

Former IRS commissioner's visits to White House become friction point

Douglas Shulman, former head of the IRS, visited the White House 157 times, according to the public visitor records released by the White House.

In congressional testimony earlier this month, Shulman was quizzed on his visits to the White House. He attributed one visit to taking his children to the annual Easter egg roll hosted by the president and first lady, but said at no point did he talk to anyone at the White House about the agency's tax exempt rules.

"If someone had asked me if I were 157 times, and I wasn't, I would have known the answer, and I would have given that answer," said CNN contributor and Republican strategist Kevin Madden. "And here we are, a week later, and we're still arguing about it."

Democrats say there is fuzzy math at play, that Shulman did not always meet with the president and that meetings were not always at the White House, they could have taken place at the old executive office.

"This is a fabricated debate, just because [Fox News anchor] Bill O'Reilly is raising questions about it, it doesn't mean there's actually anything going on here," said CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter.

"The clear question in the mind of the public is going to be, 'Was this kind of differential treatment ordered by anyone beyond the IRS?'" said CNN senior political analyst and editorial director for 'National Journal' Ron Brownstein.

In other words, did the White House order the IRS to target conservative groups seeking tax exempt status?

"The evidence that we have right now, is an Inspector General report which says no, there was no outside influence," said Cutter.

"The Lead's" political panel also tackled former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's declining poll numbers. Check out their discussion in the video above.

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