Schieffer: "Is anybody home" in Washington?

(CBS News) The scandals plaguing the Obama administration recently are leading some - including Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of "Face the Nation" - to wonder if the president is taking an active role in his own presidency.

Schieffer said on "CBS This Morning," "Some people are saying 'Are we back to the Nixon administration? This is what they did in the Nixon administration.' This is not the Nixon administration where you had burglars and people talking about blowing up the Brookings Institution. This is more of a case of, is anybody home?

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"I mean, just all of a sudden, well, you have this thing over at the Justice Department. They're over there getting all these phone records of all the reporters, 'the attorney general, well, he didn't know anything about it.' You get to the IRS, they don't seem to know anything about the tea party thing. You come to the White House, they don't know anything about Benghazi," Schieffer said. "I mean, somebody has got to grab hold of this thing. You know, it's, it's very, very disturbing what we're seeing here."

As for the administration's actions on Wednesday - including firing the temporary head of the IRS, Steven Miller, releasing 100 pages of emails relating to the attack in Benghazi, and voicing support for a shield law that would protect journalists in wake of The Associated Press phone records subpoenas - Schieffer said, "How is it these things all- you know, nobody seems to have been taking them very seriously up until this point."

Concerning Benghazi, Schieffer noted that the administration was trying to get the story out that the threat of terrorism had been lessened and that it wasn't as serious as it had been portrayed.

"And that erupts into this thing with all these emails," he said. "We see at the State Department the spokesman (Victoria Nuland) there saying, 'My higher-ups in the building are worried about this.' Well, which higher-ups? Why were the higher-ups worried?"

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The question now, "CTM" co-host Norah O'Donnell noted, is to whom Nuland was referring: Was it then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

"We still don't know the answer to that," Schieffer said.

As for the IRS scandal, firing Miller was the "right thing," according to Schieffer, but he added that the scandal itself "should not have happened."

The situation in Washington "is as toxic as I've ever seen it," Schieffer said. However, he said, "You're now seeing those on the left- you know, 'the president has got to start participating in the presidency,' I believe is the way that Dana Milbank phrased it in The Washington Post. This is not somebody coming from the right.

"The president has got some serious problems here, and can he grab hold of this?" Schieffer said. "If he doesn't, he's not going to get anything done in the second term. I mean, I think that's the bottom line."

Watch Bob Schieffer's full "CTM" appearance in the video above.

Watch "Face the Nation" on Sunday mornings on CBS.

  • Amanda Cochran

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