Dan Pfeiffer blasts Republican 'fishing expeditions' on Sunday news shows


A US Marine holds an umbrella over President Barack Obama as he and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey (not shown) speak to the media in the Rose Garden at the White House May 16, 2013 in Washington, DC.


Mark Wilson

Dan Pfeiffer should be nothing if not well versed on the White House response to a tumultuous week.

The senior adviser to President Barack Obama appeared on five Sunday morning news shows, framing the official response to the IRS scandal, Benghazi hearings and Associated Press phone records seizure.

Pfeiffer appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” CBS program “Meet the Nation,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and “Fox News Sunday.”

On CNN, he said Obama didn’t learn about the IRS scandal, in which the tax agency targeted conservative groups with extra scrutiny, until it hit front pages.

“And here’s why,” Pfeiffer told CNN. “Because here’s the cardinal rule when you know a situations like these, not for just for this White House but for all White Houses is you do not interfere in an independent investigation and you do not do anything to give off the appearance of interference in an independent investigation.”

To NBC he chided Republican Party claims that Obama is embroiled in an unwinnable scandal, calling them “fishing expeditions.”

“We’ve seen this playbook from the Republicans before,” Pfeiffer said. “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 are not going to let that happen. The president has got business to do for the American people.”

"Fishing expedition" was the talking point on Sunday, and Pfeiffer also used it on CBS and ABC.

When the White House released 100 emails last week about response to the attacks on an American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, it did little to quell controversy.

Critics say the Obama administration withheld details about the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three US staff there.

Pfeiffer said on ABC that the email “shows that everyone here was trying to get it right the best we could, and that the primary driving objective for the White House, the CIA and the State Department was to ensure we did nothing that — that interfered with the investigation of the people who did this.”

Of course, he was met on each program with Republican opposition.

On CBS, Texas Sen. John Cornyn called Pfeiffer’s explanations “implausible.”

“You see that in the AP story. You see that in the Tea Party story. There are so many common elements here,” said Cornyn, the assistant Republican leader. “So I really think it is a culture of cover-ups, and intimidation that is getting the administration in so much trouble.”

Fox pitted Pfieffer and failed vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin against each other.

Ryan said a resulting investigation into the IRS handling of tax-exemption applications from conservative groups will test White House claims.

“Now, we’re seeing big government in practice,” Ryan said. “Now, we’re seeing the arrogance. We’re seeing the cronyism in practice in this second term. And that is even uglier than big government in theory.”

After his whirlwind tour of American networks, Pfeiffer took to Twitter to caution against sound bites:

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