White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer faced a whirlwind of questions as the Obama administration found itself engulfed in three controversies this past week: the ongoing debate of the administration's handling of Benghazi attack, the IRS targeting conservative groups and a Justice Department probe of Associated Press phone records. Pfeiffer defended the administration, insisting the president had no role in the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. "What would be an actual real scandal in Washington would be if the president had been involved or had interfered in an IRS investigation," Pfeiffer told CBS's "Face the Nation" host, Bob Schieffer. Pfeiffer told Schieffer that you "do nothing" to interfere with an independent investigation and claims the White House responded only after they had the facts.
The IRS is under fire after it admitted to singling out conservative and tea party groups for extra scrutiny over applications for tax-exempt status.
Trying to move past a difficult week, Pfeiffer faced tough questions Sunday. As The Washington Examiner pointed out, the most difficult question was when Schieffer asked the senior adviser, "Why are you here today?" rather than someone like the White House chief of staff or secretary of state. Schieffer explained: "When the Executive branch does things right, there doesn't seem to be any hesitancy for the White House to take credit for that. When Osama bin Laden was killed the president didn't waste any time getting out there and telling people about it," Schieffer said. "But with all these things, when these things happen you seem to send out officials that don't even seem to know what has happened."
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn also appeared on "Face The Nation," calling out the Obama administration for what he believes is a "culture of cover ups." The Texas Republican said it was implausible for White House not to know about the IRS targeting tea party groups. He had inquired in 2010 and 2011 for constituents in Waco, Houston and San Antonio who felt they were being unfairly targeted. And, if Obama didn't know about it, Cornyn said it would be "willful ignorance." Cornyn also pushed more hearings about the IRS scandal in the future. "We need to have a fair and respectful process and not put the cart before the horse," he said.
Switching scandals, Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz has called for the release of even more documents from the White House on the Benghazi, Libya attacks on Sept. 11. "People deserve the truth and the families deserve the truth," Chaffetz said, after claiming a "cover up" for holding onto documents. "We weren't able to investigate," he said. "We still have terrorists that committed these attacks that are out there. They are on the loose. We don't know where they are."
President and CEO of the Associated Press Gary Pruitt called the Department of Justice's secret seizure of AP reporter's phone records "unconstitutional" in a "Face the Nation" exclusive. Pruitt told Bob Schieffer that the government has no business monitoring the AP's newsgathering activities and he fears the effect that this scandal will have on journalists and the sources that provide them with crucial information. "Officials that would normally talk to us and people we talk to in the normal course of newsgathering are already saying to us that they're a little reluctant to talk to us," Pruitt said. In the wake of the DOJ's seizure, sources "fear that they will be monitored by the government."
Also: The Washington Post evaluated the impact of the overreach and whether a federal shield law like the one currently being considered would have protected the AP.