Cantor careful about Issa’s ‘paid liar’ remark

House Republican Conference 2012 agenda

By Deirdre Walsh, CNN Senior Congressional Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The number two House Republican dodged questions Tuesday about whether he agreed with House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s use of the term “paid liar” to describe White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a CNN interview Sunday.

Asked about Issa’s comments, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor instead deflected the issue back to the White House, saying “there’s been an abuse of trust on the part of this administration towards the American people. We’re going to remain committed to getting to the bottom of this and let the truth come out.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will be a guest on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Pressed if the oversight chairman’s comments were inappropriate, Cantor again focused on the president, “I think that what we have seen is a president that continues to try and distance himself from his administration. That has led me in past to say that if that is the case, then he is disconnected,” Cantor said at a press conference with other House GOP leaders on Tuesday.

White the majority leader wouldn’t comment specifically on Issa’s comments, Cantor’s Democratic counterpart blasted the House oversight chairman, telling reporters Issa’s comment about Carney was “outrageous,” “reckless,” and that he owed Carney an apology.

“He ought to retract that statement unless he has specific evidence which I don’t believe he does. I think it was a reckless statement and undermines his presentation as someone as a judicious leader of oversight,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said at his weekly meeting with reporters Tuesday.

Cantor maintained it was the “the Obama IRS” that was responsible for targeting conservative groups, and stressed “we intend to try and get to truth here as to what exactly happened and get to the facts.”

But as Republicans continue to argue the IRS controversy demonstrates the Obama administration unfairly targeted groups based on their political ideology, congressional investigators and an internal audit have not found any evidence at this point that the activity was directed by anyone at the White House or anyone outside the IRS.

Hoyer said it’s “difficult” to trust Issa to conduct an investigation when the House oversight chairman makes what the Maryland Democrat describes as a “wild accusation.”

“That indicates a real political bias on his part,” Hoyer said.

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