Dan Pfeiffer on 'This Week'

President Obama's top adviser on the scandals engulfing the White House.
3:00 | 05/19/13

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Transcript for Dan Pfeiffer on 'This Week'
Good morning, and welcome to "this week." Damage control. Americans are right to be angry about it and I'm angry about it. A trio of scandals. My question is, who's going to jail? Tension on capitol hill. Why did you mislead congress and the american people on this? Mr. Chairman, I didn't mislead the people. Is this the toughest week yet for the white house? These are the tactics of the third world. After days of disclosures and dismissals has the president's team turn the corner? Where will congress go next? We'll as the top white house strategist. Plus -- there isn't a weekend that hasn't gone by that someone hasn't said to me, why aren't you impeaching the president? With the administration under fire, will the gop go too far? 'Ll sort outu all of the political and policy fallout on our powerhouse roundtable. Hello again. The washington scandal factory kicked into high gear this year, -- week, with jobs lost, lawyers, hired and outrage all around. As investigation intensify into irs wrongdoing and tragedy at benghazi, we're going to take a close look at where this is all headed. Starting with the strategist at the center of white house damage control, adviser dan pfeiffer. Dan, thanks for coming back to "this week." Thanks for having me. Let's talk about the irs first. You and others have said that no one in the white house knew about irs actions before getting the heads up on the inspector general's report last month, are you absolutely sure of that? Yes, that's what -- that's what we looked at. That's the first we heard of it. As it has been said, the deputy secretary of treasury was made aware as the investigation was beginning. No one in the white house was aware. What we actually knew, there was an investigation coming to a conclusion. Not that we knew the results. We didn't see the report it until it was released last wednesday. Until wednesday. Last june, the deputy treasury secretary is told, as far as you know, he did not tell his boss treasury secretary tim geithner and he didn't tell the white house? That's correct. Now, from the white house, to irs, or treasury, senator rob portman is coming up on the program, and he's written a letter to president obama, wanting to know what, if any, private pressure was exerted by the white house or treasury department political appointees on the irs regarding the standards for approving monitoring tax-exempt organizations, particularly 501(c) GROUPS. Any communication from the white house? No. But, don't take my word for it. Take the word of the independent inspector general who said he found no evidence from outside the irs. You believe there are none? We're going to work with congress, as the president said, in legitimate oversight, what we're not going to partite in fishing expeditions to distract from real issues at hand. When senator portman is asking for documents or e-mails, you're not going to comply with that request? We'll look at any request that congress puts forward. And we'll work with them. Our hope is that they'll do this in a bipartisan way to help solve the problem. But bottom line, no communications as far as you know from the white house to the irs? Absolutely not. At the hearings on friday, the acting director, outgoing acting director of the irs. Miller, was asked about the legality of this targeting, the special scrutiny of the conservative groups. Here was the questioning. Do you believe it is illegal for employees of the irs to create lists to target individual groups and citizens in this country? I think that the treasury inspector general indicated that it might not be. But others will beable to tell that. What do you believe? I don't believe it is. I don't believe it should happen. What does the president believe? Does the president believe that would be illegal? I can't speak to thw here. The law is irrelevant. The activity needs the stopped. It needs to be fixed. You don't mean that the law is irrelevant, do you? It's not important to the fact that the conduct doesn't matter. The department of justice has said that they're looking into the legality of this. The president isn't going to wait for that. Going forward, there are going to be real questions about what kind of impact this is going to have on the rest of the president's agenda. And the woman what was running the committee, now overseeing the treasury department's oversight of the president's health care plan, that's raised a lot of questions, among republicans on capitol hill, they say that she, given her previous experience, is exactly the wrong person to be overseeing obama care. Your response? They're going to do a 30-day top-down review, anyone who did anything wrong is held accountable. As far she did not nothing wrong. The president believes that she can continue to fulfill her responsibilities on the health care plans. Let's get facts first. On capitol hill, given the irs' extensive responsibility for overseeing the health care law, this experience with the tax-exempt organizations calls that oversight into question? George, I think the question for both republicans and democrats, are we going to come together to solve the problem? I understand that republicans are still very angry that obama care is law. They tried to use this as an excuse to -- to try to repeal obama care. Let's actually solve the problem. And so, you have no question about the irs' ability to oversee and their responsibility to oversee the obama care? No. The new acting commissioner, he starts next week, he's going to do a top-down review. Let's move on to benghazi, if white house released over a hundred e-mails detailing communications with government agencies over what was happening in the days and weeks after the attack on benghazi. I want to go back to something that jay carney said about this back in november the kind of changes that the white house and the state department were responsible for in those now infamous talking points. The white house and state department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points, by these two institutions, was by changing the word consulate to diplomatic facility. Because consulate was inaccurate. The e-mails you release show a host of communication indicating that the changes were far more extensive. No, what the e-mails showed three things. This is very important. They undermined all of the allegations that republicans have been making for months about this. First, e-mails show that the draft of talking points include, written by the cia, include reference to the protest here. Second, references to al qaeda and terrorism were not taken out by the white house as republicans have asserted but taken out by the cia. And third, it shows that everyone here was trying to get it right the best we could and the primary driving objective for the cia and state department, to ensure that we did nothing that interfered with the investigation of the people who did this. It also does show that the changing the word from consulate to diplomatic facility. What they show, beyond a shadow of the doubt. Someone else changed the cia's assessment for political reason is without a shadow of a doubt false. Republicans talking about this. They have seen the e-mails owe ambassador rice an apology. For the things they said about her in the wake of the attack. An apology for what? For accusing her for misleading the country. For saying that she didn't -- that somehow we were -- she was involved in some sort of political whitewash of what happened there. What she said, was what the intelligence community believed at the time. Finally, as you look forward in trying to get the rest of the president's agenda through the congress in the remaining 3 1/2 years he has in office, you have seen the harsh words from republican leaders, talking about the arrogance of the white house, the culture of intimidation, according to marco rubio, and dan balz, a respected political writer points out that this is growing to trust in government. An article in the paper today. What happens today, as a result of the multiple controversies that have engulfed the administration one is clear -- president obama has failed to meet one of the most important goals he set out to achieve. To demonstrate that activist government could also be smart government. Have all of the revelations this week, it sure appears they have driven trust in government even further down, how does the president turn that around? Well, there is no question what happened in the irs was a breach in trust. We have to do everything we can to repair that breach. That's what the president is doing. That's why we took decisive action. And we're going to make sure that this never happens again. Since the president has taken office, he has taken serious steps to reform government, make government more transparent. When problems arise, how do we address it? In the irs we're taking decisive action to make sure it never happens again. Dan pfeiffer, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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