TODAY   |  June 03, 2013

McCain: IRS scandals hurt ‘their credibility’

Senator John McCain talks to TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie about the scandals recently plaguing the IRS and his recent trip to Syria, where he met with opposition leaders.

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

>>> senator john mccain is just back from his trip to syria where he met with opposition leaders. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> i want to talk about syria in a moment. let's pick up where peter left off. darrell issa says his gut tells him this goes beyond cincinnati into washington, he released excerpts of e-mail that might support that theory, they're not conclusive. do you take the inspector general at the irs at his word saying this happened in cincinnati and went into further?

>> i think that's the reason why we ought to have hearings and in fact maybe a select committee may be called for, given the questions surrounding this investigation, so i think we ought to wait and see how events unfold. it certainly, when you look at the people that were targeted, it might have been something different than accidental, but i think we ought to have hearings and i think that there may be an argument for a special council here, but let's i think wait and see.

>> i have to ask you about this latest video that's come out of irs employees at an employee event learning to line dance , this is at taxpayer's expense. your reaction to seeing that?

>> you just wonder why do they keep doing this stuff? it's just, it hurts their credibility enormously. suspicions confirmed about what federal employees do, and we all know there are many, many, hundreds of thousands of dedicated federal employees who work hard every day for us.

>> let's talk about syria . you recently returned from a trip there and you said actually yesterday that you believe bashar al assad now has the upper hand in this conflict. you've long advocated for a no fly zone for arming elements of the opposition. at this point would that mean be enough if the u.s. went in, are you sure that wouldn't be just the first step in a deepening involvement by the u.s.?

>> i believe there are no good options and every day it gets worse. more jihadists flow in. we see by this morning's news that the fighting has spilled over into lebanon as is a natural consequence of this continued fighting. air power is decisive in this kind of climate. for example, in qusar right now bashar's forces are surrounding this town of 50,000 people, they have hundreds wounded and they're pounding it from the air, so they need heavy weapons against tanks and they need the kind of anti-aircraft missiles we need to supply them with, but we have to have in my view the no fly zone as well.

>> you know the reluctance on the part of the administration you arm the rebels and may unwittingly arm jihadist elements. jihadists are pouring into this country every single day. even if you can get the weapons to the right people as you said we believe we can, how do they stay with the right people and don't fall into the wrong hands?

>> if we make them strong and give them the strength that they need to prevail, then others will gather around them and support them, but look, is the status quo, which is clearly situation where it's turning into a regional conflict where thousands are killed, thanks to hezbollah, the iranians, the russians, jihadists pouring in, is that a satisfactory situation? it is not and we've got to change the equation on the ground, this whole scenario in the middle east could erupt into a conflict of enormous proportions and we just can't sit by and watch it happen.

>> before i let you go, very quickly, domestic politics. do you still have faith in attorney general eric holder ?

>> i think eric holder has some questions to ask -- to answer. i think that eric holder has damaged his credibility and i think he should ask himself whether he's really effectively serving the president of the united states . but clearly there have been some contradictory statements and the press understandably should be concerned about what we have found about their tactics.

>> senator john mccain , i know your son got married over the weekend, congratulations.

>> thank you.