President Obama is holding his first news conference since April today, a day before his week-long vacation in Martha's Vineyard. He is likely to take questions on National Security Agency surveillance, his decision to cancel a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, unrest in Egypt and Syria, and the terrorism threat that caused the administration to close dozens of embassies and order Americans to leave Yemen. Check here for live updates during the news conference.
A running transcript is also being updated throughout the conference.
President Obama criticized Republicans for not moving forward with a vote in the House on the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration bill.
Obama said he is convinced the bill would pass if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would allow a vote on it. Boehner has said he won't violate the so-called "Hastert Rule" -- which requires legislation to have the support of a majority of the majority party. Immigration reform doesn't come close.
"The problem is internal Republican caucus politics," Obama said. "And that's what the Americans people don't want us to be worrying about."
Obama acknowledged that there would "glitches" in the implementation of Obamacare, but criticized Republicans for seeking to defund it.
"There is no doubt that in the implementation of [Obamacare] there are going to be glitches," Obama said, noting that was also true of other major efforts, including Social Security and Medicare.
Obama said there will be anecdotal evidence for opponents of the law to cite. But he said efforts by some Republicans to not fund the government if Obamacare is funded are misguided.
"There's not even a pretense that they're going to replace it with something better," Obama said, according to The Fix's Chris Cillizza.
"I have confidence that common sense in the end will prevail," Obama said.
One of the most talked-about moments of the news conference so far is Obama calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a sloucher.
In the Loop's Emily Heil weighs in here:
Perhaps the president was trying to infer something about Putin’s intentions based on his body language. Something about Putin seems to invite scrutiny of his physiology by U.S. presidents trying to divine his inner workings (remember how former President George W. Bush looked into his eyes and saw his tender soul?).
But we couldn’t find much photographic evidence of Putin slouching. In fact, he looks like he’s got some pretty good posture. See here:
(Dmitry Astakhov / AFP/Getty Images)
Fox News' Ed Henry asked Obama whether he has made progress in finding the people responsible for the killings of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, last September, as Obama has promised.
Obama's response: "I also said that we'd get bin Laden, but we didn't get him in 11 months."
On Obama's decision to delay the employer mandate portion of the health-care law known as "Obamacare" for one year, Henry asked whether future presidents could also "pick and choose" which parts of the law to implement.
Obama emphasized that it wasn't his decision alone.
Obama compared his surveillance reforms to his wife checking on how well he has washed the dishes.
He said while he tries hard to wash them and, presumably, his heart is in the right place, it's always better if she can check and make sure he did did it correctly.
"Maybe I need to bring her back and show her the dishes rather than her just taking my word for it," Obama said.
Here is a statement House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) spokesman reacting to Obama's NSA announcement:
From Brendan Buck: “Much of any public concern about this critical program can be attributed to the president’s reluctance to sufficiently explain and defend it. Transparency is important, but we expect the White House to insist that no reform will compromise the operational integrity of the program. That must be the president’s red line, and he must enforce it. Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face.”
The Obama Administration has released a white paper on its plans to reform the country's national security and surveillance programs.
It is embedded below:
President Obama, asked directly whether NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a patriot, said that he is not.
"No, I don't think Mr. Snowden is a patriot," Obama said. "My preference, and I think the American people's preference, would have been for a lawful, thoughtful review of these laws."
Some will certainly suggest that today's moves by Obama represent some kind of vindication for Snowden. But Obama said there were plenty of other options for Snowden, whom he urged to return to the United States and face the justice system.
"There were other avenues available for someone whose conscience was stirred and thought they needed to questions government action," Obama said.
President Obama said he will not consider having the United States boycott the 2014 Olympics in Russia, in response to Russia's decision to grant NSA leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum.
"I do not think it's appropriate to boycott the Olympics," Obama said.
Obama also said Vladimir Putin's return as Russian president has surfaced tensions that date back to the Cold War.
"I've encouraged Mr. Putin to think forward rather than backward on a number of issues, with mixed success," Obama said
Obama added that "I don't have a bad personal relationship with Putin."
"I know the press likes to focus on body language; he's got that kind of slouch," Obama said, noting a recent meeting where photographs suggested the two men were not happy to be in the same room.
Obama suggested that the appearance of tension between the two men had more to do with Putin's "slouch" than any genuine discord.
Obama outlined four steps that he "will be taking very shortly" on balancing privacy with national security.
The steps are detailed below:
1) "Appropriate reforms" to the Patriot Act's phone record collection program, including oversight, transparency and new constraints. "Given the scale of the program, I understand the concerns of some that it could be" abused," Obama said.
2) Creating an adversary advocating for privacy on the FISA court, which has previously involved only a government lawyer and a judge. "While I've got confidence in the court ... I think we can provide greater assurance that the court is respecting both security and privacy," Obama said.
3) More transparency. Obama said he wants the intelligence community to declassify as much as it can.
4) Consulting with outside experts to review security programs and make sure they are effective.
"It's true: We have significant capabilities," Obama said. "What's also true is that we show the kind of restraint that most countries wouldn't even think to do."
The Post's Scott Wilson reports that the president will announce a significant effort to change the way secret surveillance programs are approved.
Obama's plan -- previously advocated by some senators -- is for an adversarial voice in the proceedings, which had until this point been between a government lawyer and a judge.
President Obama will announce plans Friday to pursue reforms that would open the legal proceedings surrounding the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs to greater scrutiny, the administration’s most concerted response yet to a series of national security disclosures.
At his first full news conference in more than three months, Obama will say that he intends to work with Congress on proposals that would add an adversarial voice -- effectively one advocating privacy rights -- to the secret proceedings before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Several Democratic senators have proposed such a measure.
In addition, Obama will say that he intends to work on ways to tighten one provision of the Patriot Act that gave the government broader authority to obtain business phone data records. He will announce the creation of a panel of outsiders -- former intelligence officials, civil liberty and privacy advocates, and others — to assess the programs and suggest changes by the end of the year.
One senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the proposals in advance, said Obama will “focus on how can we build in greater oversight to the program, how can we bring greater transparency to the program, and what constraints are necessary on the use of this authority to give the public confidence that is necessary, in his view, to move forward with this important intelligence collection tool.”
Obama will also announce the release of a Justice Department analysis of the legal rationale underpinning the government’s most controversial surveillance programs, brought to light in June by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who was recently granted temporary asylum in Russia.
The NSA, among the most secret institutions in government, also released a summary of the programs it operates under several provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the post-Sept. 11, 2001, Patriot Act.
Be sure to check out our preview of today's news conference, from The Fix.
Here's an excerpt, but make sure to see the whole piece (linked above):
* Obama’s opening remarks: One of the lost elements of a presidential press conference is what Obama chooses to focus on in his, usually, 5 minutes or so of opening remarks. You can assume that whatever Obama chooses is the key message that the White House wants to leave the public with as he heads out on vacation. Our guess? The NSA leak controversy and Edward Snowden. And on that subject President Obama has to walk a fine line; he need to convince civil libertarians — particularly those who want to support him within the Democratic party — that he understand their concerns and is making sufficient changes to address them.
* How hard does he go at Congressional Republicans?: The relationship (or lack thereof) between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner is at a low ebb. Obama has spent significant rhetorical fire castigating congressional Republicans for what he describes as their unwillingness to consider a good deal on budgetary measures. But, with Mitch McConnell not a likely dealmaker thanks to his primary challenge in Kentucky, Obama has to find someone within the congressional GOP that he can cut a deal with later this fall. Boehner is the obvious choice although the past between the two men may be too much to overcome. Arizona Sen. John McCain has been a deal-cutter of late but does he carry enough weight with House Republicans to make something happen? We doubt it.