WASHINGTON — A senior White House adviser defended the Obama Administration on Sunday, saying the controversies enveloping the presidency were the result of Republican lawmakers trying to “drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped-up hearings, and false allegations.”
Republican lawmakers showed no let-up in attacking President Obama for what they called a culture of cover-up and “intimidation.”
With controversies on three fronts — the Internal Revenue Service, the administration’s explanation of last year’s Benghazi attack, and the Justice Department’s seizure of the Associated Press’ phone records — White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer pushed back against suggestions that Mr. Obama was under a cloud of scandal.
“I think we’ve seen this playbook from Republicans before,” Mr. Pfeiffer said on NBC’s Meet The Press.
“What they want to do when they are 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.”
He rejected Republican criticisms of the President’s actions and leadership style as “offensive” and “absurd,” and he said the administration would not be distracted from doing the nation’s business.
Republicans are pressing for investigations and have kept up a stream of criticism of the White House.
The White House has expressed outrage about the IRS focusing on conservative political groups for additional scrutiny. Mr. Obama has said he learned about the practice this month.
That has not dampened Republican criticism.
“There is a culture of intimidation throughout the administration. The IRS is just the most recent example,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on Meet The Press.
Republican lawmakers said they still do not know who was responsible for the tax authority’s targeting of conservative groups and want further investigation.
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold hearings on it this week.
Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said on ABC’s This Week that a special counsel may be needed to investigate “because it has to be independent of the White House.”
Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller was fired last week, and Mr. Obama has pledged new safeguards.
“Given the trend line we’re seeing here in so many different instances, it’s an unfortunate culture I think in the administration that it’s OK to cover these things up,” Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) said on the CBS program Face the Nation.
Mr. Pfeiffer said it was important to try to repair the damage from the IRS scandal.
“This was a breach of the public trust. And we have to work together to rebuild that trust. That’s going to require Republicans to do this in a legitimate, serious governmental way and not play politics with it,” he said.