W.H. adviser questions whether GOP will throw wrench in governing
May 19th, 2013
10:01 AM ET
1 year ago

W.H. adviser questions whether GOP will throw wrench in governing

(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."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    Since when has the GOP "worked with" the President??? The GOP is not fit to govern, and they're not fit to dwell in society. Vote the GOP government leeches out in 2014.

    May 19, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Wasington Scandals? Will the Republician's work with the Liberal's? Well somebody has to do the dirty work and it isn't the Liberal's. Obama says the Rich need to pay their fair share. But someone has to produce it in the first place. With less and less people working there is less and less to split up. When are people going to catch on? Amazing of how the Liberal Manefesto continues to fail. nearly 17 Trillion in debt and the Liberal's want more. The Democrats had the Congress for 40 years. If things are not all fixed by now I have to ask, What happened? Why are we in worse shape than the 1930's?

    May 19, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. jpmichigan

    The President states he didn't know what is going on in Washington regarding the IRS, AP, and Benghazi, well I believe it. He is so out of touch with the job of President. His Senior Advisors run the country and tell him what they think he should know, which is very little!

    May 19, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. NEVER to VOTE REPUBLICAN again

    Kick all the teapubs out! They want to give our country to the corporation gods they bow to$

    May 19, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. king

    what kind of kakememe question is this adviser asking! what planet have he been living on for the past 5 years? the only mission the repubs have is to destroy this government just look at their filibustering record. the problem is every time they tries to destroy government and when the repercussion hit them in their faces, they point their fingers at Obama. they must be living in a dream world, to do something and always dodging responsibly. but if it works that's another story, they take all the credit and dismiss Obama for being in the way.

    May 19, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. John

    Why don't the Repugs and Teabaggers try to hold hearing on how to improve the country instead of following its obstructionist policy?

    May 19, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    They have been doing it sence he first got elected in 2009 ,did you hear mc connell say that let's make Obama a one term president and that was the gop garbage party top priorities. That's why the will lose the house and senate in 2014.

    May 19, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. rs

    Will throw? As in future tense? Republicans have been actively undermining America since the duly elected current President took office in 2008.

    GOP=Taliban.

    May 19, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. g

    haliburton wants there government back

    May 19, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. rs

    Why in the world would anyone actually believe anything the GOP says about the President? They lied to start the war in Iraq, they lied about their so-called fiscal conservatism, they lied about Benghazi, and they are lying about the IRS.
    If they told me the sky was blue, the smart move might be to go outside and look first.
    As far as being good "patriots", the GOP wants to turn America into a plutocratic playground for the rich where the rest of us will simply have to "learn their place" and live off of their scraps.

    Want to wreck America? Keep voting Republican.

    May 19, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. GrizzlyBear

    One more thing, look at this idiot. He's just another whipping boy for the press and he's TOO STUPID to realize it. Maybe he's related to Obama's Minister of Propaganda, Jay Carney.

    May 19, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    The repugs will continue with no work for the country because we think, even I'd it's not true, that we can bring the administration down.
    These fools have been doing nothing since January 2009 and the idiots who vote for them still don't get it. The repugs don't care about the country. They grandstand for votes and it's all about getting their name out there regardless of how non news anything they say or do is. You have liars, racist, car thiefs, adulterers,, drunks, haters, birthers running your party while standing behind the bible and family values.

    May 19, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. HenryMiller

    "W.H. adviser questions whether GOP will throw wrench in governing"

    The present monstrously overbearing, intrusive, government badly needs a good number of wrenches thrown into it.

    May 19, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |