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

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June 3rd, 2013
06:36 PM ET

Fmr. Romney adviser: Obama allies trying to distract from IRS scandal

Politicians are usually hesitant to accuse adversaries of lying, but on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, one of the president's chief adversaries, House Oversight Committee Chairman Congressman Darrell Issa dropped the gloves.

"Their paid liar, their spokesperson, pictured behind, he's still making up things about how things happened and calling this 'local rogue,'" said Issa, referring to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Issa seemed to be suggesting Carney was lying about those IRS officials who targeted conservative groups being "rogues," though he did not offer any proof.

One of Carney's former colleagues rose to his defense in equally personal terms.

"Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler," tweeted David Plouffe, the unofficial adviser to President Barack Obama.

Plouffe was referring to an incident in 1972, when Issa was 19; charges against him for allegedly stealing a car were later dropped. The "arsonist/insurance swindler" refers to an incident in 1982, when Issa's factory burned down under suspicious circumstances, no one was ever charged with anything, and Issa did collect insurance money.

Plouffe told CNN "the credibility and motivation of accusers are valid here."

"He is trying to offer a distraction," said Kevin Madden, CNN contributor and former adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign. "Whenever they have a problem with the facts, what they do is demonize and go after the character of their opponents."

On Monday, a source close to Issa told CNN the congressman thought Plouffe's tweet about these old allegations was particularly below the belt, given that "Rep. Issa has never used his position to investigate President Obama for things before he took office like his land deal with convicted felon Tony Rezko."

In Monday's White House press briefing, Carney laughed off Issa's comments, saying, "I hadn't heard that, that's amazing. I'm not going to get in a back and forth with Chairman Issa."

"[Issa] totally crossed the line," said Ruth Marcus, columnist for The Washington Post. By laughed it off, Carney did the right thing, "not getting himself down in the gutter with Darrell Issa. The Plouffe response really just dredged up old news and covered every body with dirt."

"It's not all that wise to pick a fight with somebody who has subpoena power," Politico's Glenn Thrush said of Plouffe's tweet.

Thrush said he does not understand why the White House or former Obama advisers would want to pick a fight with Issa.

"They had him where they wanted him on Sunday, he really stepped in it. I thought that went way over the line," said Thrush. "And this really puts them back on a par and loses the advantage they had over the weekend."

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