Meet the Press   |  May 19, 2013

Pfeiffer: GOP on ‘partisan fishing expeditions’

White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer says that although actions that need to be taken on the IRS scandal plaguing the Obama administration, the wave of recent controversies won’t adversely affect the Obama administration.

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

>> for president obama . one columnist wondering if the president like president clinton before him could actually emerge stronger from all of this, while others see the swirl of the controversies making it stronger for the president to succeed with his second-term agenda. the president is going to address congratulations watts at moorehouse college this morning. and thursday he'll deliver a speech on counterterrorism. here this morning one of the men trying to direct a response to all of these controversy, the president's senior adviser, dan pfeiffer, a man who has been with the president since his 2008 campaign. good to have you here.

>> thank you for having me.

>> i've been reading that the white house wouldn't spend more than 10% on these controversies. jay carney , the president secretary, dismissed the idea these are scandals at all. is that the president's view that these are nothing more than minor distractions?

>> there's no question there's a very real problem at the irs . it's a problem that needs to be addressed and that it never happens again. that's why the president has asked for the resignation of the acting irs director and we appointed an acting commissioner and do a 30-day top-down review and make shoo this never happens and those who did wrong are held accountable.

>> you don't buy the theory there's a big cloud, scandal over this president sp.

>> no. we've seen this from the republicans before. they try to drag washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions. the president has business to do for the american people .

>> we're going to hear from dave camp , the acting official who is now dismissed. this is one of the things he said. i want to get your reaction.

>> listening to the nightly news, this appears to be an example of coverups and it seems like the truth is midden from the american people just long enough to make it through an election.

>> how do you react to that?

>> there's no evidence to support at that. the first time the white house was aware of this investigation was a few weeks ago when our office was notified it was happening. at that point, we had no idea what the facts were. congressman issa has been aware of this investigation since before the election. he didn't say anything publicly for very good reason. as he said, want to make sure you actually have facts before you raise allegations -- when you're talking about a nonpartisan entity like the irs .

>> but there was information during the course of the election year about potential targeting. do you not see the white house falling down on the job, the administration failing to look into something that is so incendiary?

>> it was looked into bit inspector general. that's how the process should work. now we have a report. the question is what are we going to do about that report?

>> could the administration have done something independent of what the inspector general is doing?

>> no, we have a cardinal rule in these situations, which is you don't interfere in an independent investigation, you don't do anything to give the appearance of interfering with an investigation. we took the exact right steps.

>> you talk about a gop play book. you made a comment that said " gop overreach" which was to michele bachmann . there isn't a weekend, she said, that hasn't gone by when people haven't asked me about impeaching obama. when you commented on that, is that you going on the offense saying this is the gop overreaching? or is this something you're actually concerned about?

>> there is no question that republicans are trying to make political hay here. we have to know what the facts are. if the independent inspector general report said two things that are very important, one, that there is no evidence that anyone outside of the irs influenced this conduct here and, two, that he did not believe there was political motivation. the conduct was outrageous and shouldn't have happened regardless of motivation but the idea to try to turn this into something -- congressman steve king from iowa, leading republican, said that benghazi was watergate and iran-contra times ten. everyone needs to take a deep breath and resolve the problem, not score political points.

>> should the president have known sooner about the irs ?

>> no. we do not do anything to give the appearance of interfering with an investigation. it would be a scandal if we were somehow involved with this or other things. we handled this the right way.

>> you're a communications professional as well. you never want a president of the united states coming out and saying i just learned about this from news reports. it doesn't look like someone is large and in charge --

>> in this situation that's exactly what you want. you don't want the president involved in an independent investigation with an agency with an independent stature like the irs . that would be inappropriate.

>> quasi independent. the treasury department does oversee this. this is not like interfering in a criminal investigation in justice, for example.

>> it's treated that way because a president once in a white house got involved in the irs and led to the great et ceteest political scandal in our history. the head of the irs was a bush appointee. and the acting commissioner was a career civil servant.

>> the other question is should congress have known more? were they repeatedly misinformed? look at this exchange questioning going on in march of 2012 . watch.

>> we've seen some recent press