After months of seemingly endless leaks about U.S. surveillance programs, the pressure on the administration rose to new levels in recent days with revelations published by the German news magazine Der Spiegel that the United States was collecting the communications of allied leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
German leaders respond angrily to the news, with Merkel demanding a stop to the practice and proclaiming her country's confidence in the United States had been "shaken."
But it was comments by the administration claiming that Obama did not know of the practice until recently that drew the sharpest criticism -- from both the right and the left.
Rep. Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, was incredulous that the president didn't know what was going on.
"He certainly should have known, if he didn't," the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "I think that's almost more of a serious issue that something like that at that level would be conducted without him knowing it."
And Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said not knowing about the program was a "big problem" for both Obama and the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs.
"As far as I'm concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing," her statement said. "To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs."
Longstanding Republican criticism of the administration's handling of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, which left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and two other Americans dead, resurfaced this week with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threatening to hold up administration nominations over the issue.
Senators are expected soon to review Obama's nominations for several high-profile judicial appointments and other nominations.
Senate rules make it possible for a single senator to at least temporarily hold up presidential nominations, and Graham says he will do so until the administration makes survivors of the attack available for congressional testimony.
"I'm going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to Congress," he said. "I'm tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books. We need to get to the bottom of this."
The White House said Monday that Graham and other Republicans are using Benghazi for political purposes, "and we find that unfortunate."