President Obama took reporters’ questions Tuesday morning in a press conference at the White House. Here are some summaries of his talking points:
Syria / Chemical Weapons
Regarding the United States’ belief that it has evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. doesn’t yet know “how they were used, when they were used, who used them … and when I am making decisions about American national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapons use, I have to make sure I have the facts.”
Boston Marathon Bombings
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the Russians “have been very cooperative with us since the Boston bombing.” He said he has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that Putin has “committed to working with me … (to ensure) that those who report to us are cooperating fully, not only in this investigation … but (on) counterterrorism issues directly.”
Regarding the FBI’s questioning of Boston bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev a couple years before the attack, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he believes, “based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties, the Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing.”
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he continues to believe that the United States should close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “I think it’s critical for us to understand Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe, it’s expensive, it’s inefficient, it hurts us in terns of international standing, it lessens cooperation with our allies in counterrorism efforts. … It needs to be closed. … Congress determined that they would not let us close it.” Obama said he’s asked his team to review the matter and re-engage with Congress “to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interest of the American people.”
Addressing Congress’ passing of a bill that will allow the FAA to staff control towers and avoid flight delays in the short term, rather than passing a larger deficit-reduction deal that would replace forced budget cuts, President Barack Obama said Tuesday it’s not his job to get congressmen to behave. People think “somehow my job is to get them to behave. That’s their job. … If in fact they are seriously concerned about passenger convenience and safety, they should not just be thinking about tomorrow. … They should be thinking about five years form now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now,” Obama said. To do that, he said, Congress should work with him on a broader deal.
President Barack Obama said an immigration reform bill proposed by a “Gang of 8” in the Senate meets criteria that he believes such a plan should have: More effective border security; a crackdown on employers who “are gaming the system”; making the legal immigration system work more effectively; and making sure there is a pathway to citizenship that allows immigrants already in the country to earn legal status over time. Obama said he hasn’t seen what House members are proposing, and he’ll be open-minded about whether they can address the issue better, but “the bottom line is they still have to meet those basic criteria.”
President Barack Obama told reporters Tuesday that he’s proud of Jason Collins, the NBA center who came out as gay in a Sports Illustrated column this week. Obama said he has talked to Collins. “He seemed like a terrific young man. I told him I couldn’t be prouder of him,” Obama said. “One of the extraordinary measures of progress we have seen in this country has been the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality — not just partial equality, not just tolerance, but a recognition that they’re fully a part of the American family.”
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