McConnell: ‘There is a culture of intimidation throughout the administration’

Dylan Stableford
The Ticket

Republican Senators Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell and Rob Portman continued Sunday to press the Obama administration on the Internal Revenue Service scandal that's engulfed the White House.

On CNN's "State of the Union," Paul told Candy Crowley he heard about a "written policy" that encouraged IRS officials to target "those who are critical of the president."

"And when that comes forward, we need to know who wrote the policy and who approved the policy," Paul said.

The Kentucky senator seemed to backtrack when pressed about the existence of yet another controversial document.

"Well, we keep hearing the reports and we have several specifically worded items saying who was being targeted," Paul said. "I don't know if that comes from a policy, but that's what's being reported in the press and reported orally. I haven't seen a policy statement, but I think we need to see that."

Memo or no memo, McConnell said it's clear that political bullying is being cultivated by the Obama White House.

"There is a culture of intimidation throughout the administration," McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "The nanny state is here to tell us all what to do and if you start criticizing, you get targeted."

[Related: The IRS targeted tea party groups. Did liberal groups get better treatment?]

Earlier this month, an inspector general report disclosed that the IRS improperly scrutinized certain conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. On Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Portman called for a bipartisan investigation into inspector general's report.

"What we do know is that politics was put ahead of the public interest," Portman said. "And it was done in two of the most sensitive areas of our government."

"So, it seems to me that there's a lot of issues here we need to get bottom of," the Ohio Republican added. "We need to find out what really happened and ensure that we can begin to regain some trust in our government. That's my concern."

Meanwhile, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer accused the GOP of conducting "fishing expeditions" ahead of next year's midterm elections.

"I think we've seen this playbook from Republicans before," Pfeiffer said on "Meet The Press" Sunday. "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're not going to let that happen."

Obama appears to be weathering the storm, the Associated Press noted. A poll released on Sunday by CNN/ORC International showed President Obama has a 53 percent approval rating, with just 45 percent saying they disapprove.