With Congress out of town, President Obama held a rare Q&A press briefing with reporters at the White House today. The short media gathering lasted only about 45 minutes, with just a handful of questions, and no real breaking news to speak of. Obama did swat away the idea of intelligence failure surrounding the Boston bombings, and a Fox News report about intimidation of witnesses in the Benghazi investigation. He also promised to continue to push for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison.
He can see all our updates from the press conference below, with quotes and highlights.
Original Post: There doesn't appear to be any specific agenda for the press conference—although today marks the 100th day of his second term—but topics will likely include the Boston investigation, Syria, gun control, the sequester, and maybe some Obamacare.
The president received some criticism at the end of this first term when it was learned that his press availabilities were the fewest of any president since Ronald Reagan. (Though he does do more sit-down interviews than anyone.) Since this is his first press conference since March 1, the White House press corps will be eager for this opportunity to grill him on any topic they can get to.
WH always likes pressers when Congress is out of town. Lets them control message and harder for scattered lawmakers to push back— carl hulse (@hillhulse) April 30, 2013
You can watch the White House live stream below, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
THE LATEST (11:33 a.m.): Obama moved to leave, but came back to the podium to answer one last question about Jason Collins. "He seems like a terrific young man... told him I couldn't be prouder of him ... America should be proud that this is just one more step in the recognition that we treat everyone fairly. Everyone is part of a family."
(11:29 a.m.): Obama ends by saying he is looking forward to his upcoming trip to Mexico, "a massive economic partner." Says it won't be just about security.
(11:25 a.m.): Q on immigration reform: I was impressed with the "gang of eight" in the Senate. "I haven't seen what the House is proposing."
(11:17 a.m.): Obama says the 85 to 90 percent of Americans (with health insurance) are already seeing the benefits of Obamacare, "even if they don't know it."
(11:16 a.m.): Obama also argues that we can prosecute terrorists in our own regular courts.
A lot of this presser consists of Obama debunking the Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 30, 2013
(11:12 a.m.): Q about Guantanamo Bay hunger strikes (from Bill Plante of CBS): "Is it any surprise that they would prefer death to no end to their confinement?" Obama: "We have problems in Guantanamo It needs to be closed. Congress won't let us close it... I"m going to go back at this."
(11:09 a.m.): Obama says there are no U.S. airports ranked in the top 25 airports in the world. Says the money diverted to fix the furlough problem was supposed to fix that.
(11:08 a.m.): Obama: "It's not my job to get them [Congress] to behave. That's their job."
(11:04 a.m.): Obama: The only way to replace the sequester is a with a bigger deal. "It's slowed our growth, it's throwing people out of work, and it's hurting people across the country." The FAA furlough fix was "not a solution." We traded airport delays this summer for delays for decades.
(11:03 a.m.): Obama: "Rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point." Adds that the filibuster rules have "gummed" up works on Capitol Hills. "Congress is pretty dysfunctional right now."
(11:02 a.m.): Q: "Do you still have the juice to get things done?" Obama: "When you put it like that ... maybe I should pack up and go home."
(11:01 a.m.): Yellin asks if Americans should be scared in public. "Take a cue from the city of Boston ... We're not going to stop living our lives... We're going to do what we do."
(11:00 a.m.): Obama: The Russians have been very cooperative, but "Old habits die hard.... there are still suspicions...
(10:58 a.m.): Obama says there will be review of all intelligence procedures, but as far he can tell "the FBI performed its duties."
(10:56 a.m.): Q from Jessica Yellin of CNN. As if Lindsay Graham is right when he says U.S. intelligence services have gone backwards. Obama: "He's not right, but I'm sure that generated plenty of headlines."
(10:54 a.m.): Henry asks about Benghazi, suggesting people have been "blocked" from coming forward and testifying. Obama says he isn't aware of that happening.
(10:53 a.m.): Obama: "Game changer" means "we would have to rethink our range of options."
(10:50 a.m.): Obama: "The use of chemical weapons is a gamechanger.... We have evidence that chemical weapons were used inside Syria" but there is no chain of custody proving who used them or when. Says the U.S. needs hard compelling evidence before moving forward. "It's important that we do this in a prudent way."
(10:47 a.m.): First question (from the outgoing head of the WH Correspondents Association, Ed Henry) is about Syria.