President Obama is scheduled to deliver a statement and answer questions from reporters in the White House briefing room at 10:30 AM ET on Tuesday morning. Join the discussion in the comments and follow live updates throughout the press conference.
7:28 AM PT: You can watch live at the White House website. (Edit: You can now watch live in the video at the top of this post.)
7:31 AM PT: At least one reporter is grumbling about the timing:
Thrush says he thinks the timing reflects a rigged game
designed to let the administration control
the message. Okay.
7:44 AM PT: Sounds like the two minute warning has been issued.
7:45 AM PT: Per the media, which will be asking the questions, Syria will be topic number one of the press conference.
7:47 AM PT: President Obama takes the podium—and jumps straight into questions without delivering a statement. The first question is from Ed Henry—about Syria and his red line.
7:51 AM PT: Of course, Henry also needs to squeeze Benghazi into his question. Henry knows his audience (Fox.) The president tackles Syria first, saying U.S. hasn't "simply been bystanders." From the beginning, he says, U.S. position was that Assad needs to go, and that the U.S. has led humanitarian efforts to protect the Syrian people. "We've said the use of chemical weapons would be a game changer," he says. "When I said the use of chemical weapons would be a game changer, that wasn't a position that was unique to the United States." Obama says we know the weapons have been used, but we don't know precisely who used them or how they were used. Before taking action "I've got to have the facts," the president says. Without concrete proof, he says, the U.S. would risk losing support from global community if it took action—"taking action" being a euphemism for military action.
7:54 AM PT: Obama "clarifies" what he means by "game changer"—"we would have to rethink the range of options available to us." So, actually, not clarified. But he says proof of Assad using Chemical weapons would "clearly be an escalation." Henry pushes his Benghazi question again, about making the survivors of the attack available to congressional investigators. Obama basically says he's not aware of anyone being blocked from testifying, and that he'll look into it. Next up, Jessica Yellin of CNN.
The liveblog is continued below the fold.
10:59 AM PT: Here's the full transcript of the press conference.
8:00 AM PT: Yellin wants to know about questions about reviewing intelligence before Benghazi and Boston, specifically if Lindsey Graham is right to say America has move backwards from where it was on 9/11. "No he's not right," says the president, "but I'm sure he generated some headlines." The president says the response to the Boston bombing was exemplary. As for before the attack, he says the intelligence community is following "standard procedure" by taking a look at whether there are things that could have been done before the attack—and should be done in the future to prevent future attacks. "From what I have seen, the FBI performed its duties." He also said DHS did what it was "supposed to be doing." Obama also says that in part thanks to the success of weakening networks like Al Qaeda, there may be a growing threat of "self-radicalize" individuals who aren't part of "terror networks." "But all of this has to be done in the context of our laws," he says.
8:02 AM PT: Obama says Russia has been cooperative in the Boston bombing investigation and that Americans shouldn't be afraid of going into public places.
8:03 AM PT: Jon Karl asks the next question: "Do you still have the juice to get the rest of your agenda through Congress." Eye's rolling.
8:05 AM PT: "We're in divided government right now [...] in the Senate, this requirement for having 60 votes for even the most modest legislation is gumming up the works [...] despite that I'm confident." President Obama says he believes immigration reform will pass with bipartisan support. "It is true that the sequester is in place right now ... and we need to lift it. What's clear is that we're only going to lift if we do a bigger deal" — aka, the Grand Bargain. "I've had good conversations with some Republican senators [...] whether we can get it done or not, we'll see."
8:07 AM PT: On the "save air travelers from flight delays" sequester fix, Obama criticizes Republicans for flip-flopping on the sequester, opposing it before they realized the only way to end it would be to raise taxes. "It's slowed our growth, it's resulted in people being thrown out of work, and it's hurting people around the country."
8:09 AM PT: Obama criticizes Congress for "fixing" flight delays by using money intended for long-term improvements. Essentially, he says, Congress opted to prevent short-term flight delays by guranteeing long-term flight delays. Karl interrupts: "Why'd you go along with it then?" Obama doesn't mention the legislation passed with a veto proof majority, but says basically that Congress needs to grow up and stop playing games.
8:12 AM PT: Obama says we're using our "seed corn" to deal with current problems. He initially says the reason is that "some folks" won't agree to close loopholes on the wealthy, but gets around to naming the Republicans.
8:15 AM PT: Bill Plante of CBS asks about the Guantanamo hunger strike. Obama says he still wants to close it. "It's not necessary to keep America safe. It's expensive. It's inefficient. It hurts us" with allies and the global community. "Now, Congress has determined that they won't let us close it. [...] I'm going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that is in the best interests of the American people." Obama calls Guantanamo "a no man's land" and says the notion that we're going to keep people there without trial "in perpetuity" is "contrary to who we are." It's "easy to demagogue" the issue but he says he's going to go back to Congress.
8:17 AM PT: "We should be wiser" than to continue to keep Guantanamo open. "This is a lingering problem that is not going to get better, it's going to fester, it's going to get worse."
8:22 AM PT: Chuck Todd asks about Baucus saying implementation of Obamacare was a potential train wreck. "A huge chunk of its already been implemented. For the 85 percent to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, they're already experience the benefits." But "the implementation issues come in for those who don't have insurance," he says. "All the implementation issues that are coming up are [...] with the 10-15 percent of Americans who don't have insurance or who are paying exorbitant rates in the individual market." Obama says what's being done now is creating insurance pools and setting up systems for providing subsidies for choosing insurance options online. Obama acknowledges that Republican obstruction is making implementation harder, but expresses confidence in his team's ability to overcome that obstruction.
8:27 AM PT: Next topic: Immigration reform and relations with Mexico. Obama says he's been "impressed" by the work of the Gang of 8, though their bill isn't the bill he would have written. He says it is consistent with his principles, however.
8:32 AM PT: Obama says that while he's confident that the Senate bill presents a workable bill, but has questions about the House. "We'll have to wait and see." With respect to Mexico, he says he's looking forward to visiting the country. He says he expects economic issues to dominate discussions, though security will also be an issue. "Overall what I can say, is that my impression is that the new president is serious about reform [...] and that will improve the bilateral relationship." He also says he doesn't want to leave out the fact that he'll also be visiting Central American countries including Central America. "We want to make sure that our hemisphere is integrated" to strengthen the economy for all countries involved.
8:34 AM PT: The president ends the press conference, but returns to the podium when asked for comment on Jason Collins. "Couldn't be prouder," he says. "The LGBT community deserves full equality [...] not just tolerance, but a recognition that they are a full part of the American family. [...] For a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian [... Collins] is a role model. [...] I'm very proud of him."
8:35 AM PT: And with that, the President exits the room. One question that didn't come up:
Questions about jobs in today's presidential press conference: 0.
— @AriMelber via web