TODAY   |  May 15, 2013

David Gregory: IRS accusations are ‘politically toxic’

The moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” analyzes the implications of the multiple scandals the Obama administration is dealing with this week, including accusations of a Benghazi cover-up and reports that the IRS unfairly scrutinized conservative organizations.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> we have three scandals in washington now. which is the most potentially dangerous to the administration in the long term?

>> i think this irs story is the most politically toxic. the headlines that lisa referred to, the fact that other groups could have been targeted, we are not necessarily at the end of this by a long shot. there is a passive ti about the white house and the president that even aides acknowledge is a problem. why there was not a faster, more stringent response. we saw last night a blistering statement from the president and his secretary of treasury that oversees the irs talking about accountability here. conservative groups have been complaining about this for over a year. it is time in the view of many for the president, the white house to lay out a process of accountability, how they go about this. what they say on the inside is they are frustrated, too, by the practical limitations on the president's power. he can't just dismishis acting head of the irs without cause because the irs has insulation from the executive branch precisely out of fear of political interference.

>> to tie that up, do you think a high profile head needs to roll here?

>> i think a lot of people think that is the case, that somebody's going to have to lose their job at some point once they figure out what the root of the problem was. as lisa's reporting speaks to, what incompetence did you have there, what targeting did you go on that was so lopsided? aides to the president, allies say this is politically toxic. everyone understands this. this as a symbol of government overreach could be difficult to over come.

>> you have on the surface at least three disparate stories. you have the irs story, lingering questions about the terrorist attack in benghazi and the wide sweep of reporter phone calls by the justice department . is there a common thread ? is there a common narrative that's a critique of the administration here?

>> well, i don't know that you can necessarily tie all of them together. i think on the benghazi business, i think on the irs there is a feeling that there is too much passivity, that the president is learning about these things from news reports. a disinclination on his part to deal with substance on the benghazi questions because it was felt there was so much political motivation in attacks. there were facts unearthed about this, questions left unanswered and the president seems disinclined to deal with them. all of these things taken together become at least a distraction. that word is thrown around a lot here. in a second term as one adviser told me, any day you waste is a day you cannot get back when you've got a limited window to get back the business you want to get done in a second term.

>> david gregory , moderator of "meet the press" in washington, thank