May 14, 2013

The White House, suddenly buffeted by controversies on several fronts, deflected questions Tuesday about the seizure of telephone records from reporters and editors at The Associated Press by the Justice Department, as well as allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for unusual scrutiny.

The press secretary, Jay Carney, said he could not comment on the Justice Department’s action, which apparently came in connection with an investigation of leaks inside the executive branch.

The seizure of records on more than 20 telephone lines over a two-month period has prompted an outcry from news organizations, civil liberties groups and lawmakers from both parties.

Mr. Carney was similarly reticent about the I.R.S., citing an investigation by the inspector general of the agency, which he said would shed more light on what happened. I.R.S. officials have admitted singling out dozens of Tea Party-inspired groups that had applied for tax-exempt status, submitting them to detailed questioning.

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