Nightly News   |  May 18, 2013

Obama tries to do damage control

President Obama Saturday tried to change the subject and repair some of the damage from a week of bruising controversies that have enveloped his administration. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

Share This:

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

>>> change the subject an repair some of the damage from a week of bruising controversiecontroversies, but critics don't appear ready to let go so quickly. kristen welker is is covering that for us tonight. good evening.

>> lester, good evening to you. according to one white house official, the strategy here is to spend 90% working on the president's second term agenda and only 10% on these latest controversies. but that could be a tough task.

>> irs targeting anybody is very, very wrong.

>> across the country, there is public frustration over the three controversies that rocked washington this week.

>> my feeling is that it's nixoni a nixonian.

>> at the white house , president obama testing the weather before he hit the links today, but he's still in damage control mode, trying to pivot back to a safer topic, the economy.

>> too often, our politics aren't focused on the same things you are. working hard, supporting your family and your community. making sure your kids have every chance in life.

>> but republicans are digginging in. aiming to broaden the scope of the irs investigation.

>> if we've learned anything this week it's that the irs needs less power, not more.

>> this may arguably be the president's workweek to date. it reached a pinnacle friday when outstanding irs acting commissioner apologized for not revealing for a year that tea party and other conservative groups applying for tax exempt status had been targeted.

>> we provided horrible customer service here. i will admit that.

>> the tactic was a foolish mistake, he said, but not a case of politics. republicans didn't buy it.

>> if the targeting wasn't targeting, if the targeting wasn't based on philosophy, how come only conservatives got snagged?

>> they didn't, sir.

>> two other scandals royaled the administration. mounting criticism in the aftermath of the benghazi attack and this revelation that the justice department seized phone records from the associated press. some say the issues threatened to derail the president's second term agenda, but on the streets, it was the irs issue that had everyone talking.

>> it's a pretty awful thing for them to have done. really corrupts our legal system . and the political system .

>> now, we're also learning that republican representatives darrell ssa received a letter from the inspector general last summer alerting him to its investigation into the irs and offering to brief him throughout that process. now, his office tonight maintains that it is the white house alone that didn't do enough. tomorrow, white house adviser dan pfeiffer will appear on all five morning shows including "meet