(CNN) - In the wake of controversies plaguing the Obama administration, a White House senior adviser admitted Sunday there is a "healthy skepticism" about government. But he argued it's up to Republicans to decide how much Washington will focus on the scandals.
"Are Republicans going to continue to work with the president ... or are they going to use this as a reason to not act at all?" Dan Pfeiffer asked on CNN's "State of the Union."
New poll numbers Sunday indicate the president is weathering the storm, with his approval rating holding at 53%, according to the CNN/ORC International survey out Sunday. His rating stood at 51% in April.
As the administration enters another week of congressional hearings over the controversies, Pfeiffer said the president plans to push forward by staying on message about his agenda, which includes improving the economy and working toward immigration reform.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough instructed his team not to spend more than 10% of their time on the controversies, a Democrat aware of McDonough's remarks confirmed to CNN.
Asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" if that meant the White House wasn't taking the scandals seriously, Pfeiffer said, "Oh, no. Absolutely not."
"There are some very serious issues here, particularly the IRS, where there was inexecusable conduct that needs to be fixed and that's going to happen," he continued.
Pfeiffer frequently pivoted to Republicans during his multiple talk show appearances Sunday, saying the GOP is getting distracted by hyping up some of the controversies out of political motivation.
"We've seen this playbook from the Republicans before," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "What they want to do when they're lacking a positive agenda is try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped-up hearings and false allegations. We're not going to let that happen. The president's got business to do for the American people."
The administration has taken heat over a recent report from the Internal Revenue Service inspector general that revealed the agency had been targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status since 2010. Two top IRS officials announced last week they were leaving their posts after the president called the agency's actions "inexecusable."
Pfeiffer maintained that the president was not aware of the targeting until the news media grabbed hold of the story a few days before the report came out earlier this month. However, in the last week, IRS officials have said they notified Treasury Department officials that they were conducting the review months before the report came out.
Asked why the White House or top Treasury officials didn't get involved sooner, Pfeiffer argued no one wanted to get in the way.
"Here's the cardinal rule: You do not interfere in an independent investigation," he told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
Congress has also ramped up renewed scrutiny over the White House's handling of last year's terror attack against a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead.
Responding to criticism over how erroneous talking points were drafted - which were used by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice just days after the attack - the White House last week released more than 100 pages of e-mails to show how it worked with State Department and CIA officials to craft the messaging, which later turned out to be inaccurate.
Asked if the president was aware of the drafting of the talking points as the editing process was taking place, Pfeiffer said on CNN that "of the many things the president gets involved in, talking points for Sunday shows is not one of them."
Pfeiffer argued the release of the emails will hopefully put the matter to rest and remove Rice from the GOP firing zone.
"Frankly I think that many of the Republicans who have been talking about this, now that they have seen the emails, owes Ambassador Rice an apology for the things they said about her in the wake of the attack," he said on ABC's "This Week."
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