Pfeiffer Defends Obama as Poll Shows Approval of Congressional Probes

Sunday, 19 May 2013 10:44 AM

By Greg Richter

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White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer defended President Barack Obama on Sunday over charges that he was unaware of the IRS scandal until hearing press reports, even as a new poll found strong approval for Congressional investigations of administration scandals.

"Here's the cardinal rule … for all White Houses," Pfeiffer said. "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."

Pfeiffer said Obama learned about the IRS scandal on May 10, the same day as the public, even though Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, were aware of the probe earlier but alert the White House about it while the investigation was ongoing.

Pfeiffer made the round of five Sunday talk shows to defend the administration following a week of blistering news on several Obama administration scandals.

Pfeiffer found some welcome news while on CNN's "State of the Union," which reported Obama's job approval at 53 percent. The numbers were up 2 percent from early April, and up 6 points from their low of 47 percent in mid-March.

"I think the American people have great faith in the president," Pfeiffer said.

But the public also believes Republicans in Congress are doing the right thing in investigating the Benghazi attack and looking into the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Only 42 percent are happy with how the White House handled the Benghazi attack, and 59 percent think the GOP is handling the investigation properly.

Obama was not involved in crafting talking points that went through 14 iterations before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on all five Sunday shows herself five days after the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks, Pfeiffer said.
"But what he was aware of, is the consensus of the intelligence community at the time," said Pfeiffer.

Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, appearing on CNN following Pfeiffer, said the talking points that were crafted by the CIA with input from the State Department were "misdirection" and political in nature.

Paul said the main point is that "someone made the decision to put an embassy and a consulate in a war-torn country with no host country to guard" it, leaving it up to local militia.

"That decision alone was a terrible and tragic error," Paul said.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she never read cables asking for more security, Paul said, calling it a "dereliction of duty" on her part.

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