Alex Witt   |  May 18, 2013

How IRS controversy could shape Obama's legacy

White House Reporter for the Washington Post David Nakamura, and Political Reporter for U.S. News and World Report Lauren Fox join MSNBC’s Alex Witt to talk about the latest in politics. They begin with commenting on the IRS hearings and the questioning of outgoing IRS Commissioner Steve Miller. The reporters discuss the IRS controversy and its impact on the Obama administration’s legacy. They also talk about the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill and its progression through Congress.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the house plans to hold more hearings next wreak on the controversy surrounding the irs for targeting tea party groups. outgoing irs commissioner steve miller faced the commission on friday. the treasury secretary will appear on a panel hearing on wednesday. joining me now white house reporter for "the washington post " david nabbing murrah and political reporter lauren fox, and with a welcome to the both of you, i'll begin with you, david . steve miller really got grilled on friday. let's take a look at one of those exchanges. here it is.

>> do you not think that congress has the right to know all of the information that you knew?

>> so, look --

>> congress was --

>> mr. miller, does this committee -- mr. miller, does this committee have the right to know the information that you knew? yes or no?

>> this committee --

>> yes or no.

>> this committee is always going to get that information.

>> you testified before this committee, mr. miller and did not -- please.

>> mr. miller --

>> okay. so the white house , david , how is it reacting to all this?

>> they're doing it sort of two-tiered. on the one hand you have the white house trying to be aggressive and accepting sort of responsibility on this to the extent that they asked for the resignation of steven miller who did resign and installed the new director last week and then, you know, they're saying, the president said that i'm going to go ahead and direct jack lew, the treasury secretary for the recommendations and we'll do that. on the other front was get outside the beltway, go to baltimore and talk about jobs and try to get back to his agenda, but that's not going to be easy. congress will have a number more hearings and you'll see danny go out there and the problem with steven miller 's testimony is you leave questions unanswered so it will be hard for the white house to get by, most notably, whose idea this was for the irs to go after conservative and tea party groups. that has not really been explained and until that is, this thing is going to keep going.

>> there were a lot of questions that were repeated and he got a barrage of questions over and over again for which he did not have answers.

>> lauren , former senior adviser to president obama , david axelrod , he spoke about the problems plaguing the administration and here's what he said.

>> this will play out. we will come out of it it, and i don't think any of these things are going to have a lasting, defining impact. i think the danger of it is just that it eats up time and when you're in your second term, every day is precious, and trying to get some things done and when the town is spining itself on all of these faux scandal, it takes up time.

>> it won't have a lasting and defining impact on the presidency. do you agree with david axelrod ?

>> i think what it does is it sucks time out of second term like david axelrod said. what this does is we have a lot of other important issues that the president would like to see capitol hill do including immigration reform . that's a huge issue. the president has said he'd like to go back to gun control issues. so i think what it does is it keeps a driss tractiistraction on oversigh t hearin hearings. and there's been a lot of time cleaning up the mess.

>> one of the things is democrats want to emphasize that this isn't necessarily politically motivated and that the tea party groups weren't targeted for that reason and for some reason it comes away that these groups were politically targeted and this was a partisan exercise, i think it will have a lasting impression on the obama administration.

>> how distracting, david , do you think this may be for the second term and you mentioned earlier how the president was trying to refocus things on the middle class and went to baltimore and has more trips planned to go to cities and state emphasized on the middle class and the economy there. how much might this derail it? is it a matter of time being spent on these issues?

>> the white house has said to us this week and a number of meetings with reporters, this is not taking up their time. of course, the media office is concerned about it because we're asking questions and behind the scenes the staff is engaged on these bigger issues that they talked about and they have staff, focused on that and there's work on the budget and those things will continue, but the truth is that a lot of this is driven by narrative and the more that this is out there and the more the president has trouble getting the narrative back on to the things he wants to talk about and that will continue to be what is the priority in the town and what's more interesting, too, is the president is coming off all of these lunches and dinners with the republicans to try to have this charm offensive and we have the heated rhetoric back and they'll be beating up on the administration and these hearings and this will set back any potential progress there, and it was already difficult.

>> before all of this, we were talking about immigration, lauren , and i want to talk about that, so this bipartisan group of eight lawmakers in the house they hadden swooing legislation and this all happened on thursday late. no details offered and congressman luis gutierrez did send out the tweet. important breakthrough. very pleased things are moving forward. look, the difference is still in the senate, lauren , but is there a sense that immigration reform will get done? is that what we'll see going on, with the hearings and investigations in congress?

>> i think one of the most promising aspects that we've seen, not only has the house bipartisan group working on this legislation for almost four years now come up with some kind of priorities and come up with an idea and principles that they agreed upon, if we looked at the judiciary hearings there have been a lot of republican amendments that were adopted, and the gang of eight members have voted together and the intent and heart of the bill is still intact, but also there's been some sweeteners added to get more republican support in the senate. if there is a lot more republican support that happens on the senate floor, then it's going to be very difficult for the house to reject immigration reform , and that's really where the sticking points remain.

>> lauren fox and david nakam, nakamura. thanks, guys.