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President Obama Press Conference Live Blog and Friday Open News Thread

UPDATED with video and transcript

Transcript: President Obama holds a press conference


President Obama will hold a press conference today, Friday August 9, at 3pm Eastern:

He is likely to face questions about his decision to cancel a meeting with Putin out of frustration over Russia’s decision to grant asylum to former government intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who is wanted in the United States for leaking sensitive information.

It will be his first press conference since April.

White House livestream:

Planned for August 9, 2013 3:00 PM EDT President Obama Holds a Press Conference CONCLUDED

Some expected topics:

Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Russia

Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September.  We value the achievements made with Russia in the President’s first term, including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea.  However, given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda.  Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship.

News items:

June 17: Obama and Putin at odds over Syria after cool exchange at G8 summit

Russia’s failure to respond positively to US claims of chemical weapons use in Syria and its hostile response to Obama’s plan to give military support to rebel groups means the two leaders remain deeply divided.


June 20: State Department Report: Russia, China Among World’s Worst Human Traffickers

Russia [is] actively using forced labor to construct the venues required for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochii, according to Human Rights Watch. The report also makes clear that while the Russian authorities receive training in handling trafficking abuses, investigation into complaints is rare.


June 21: US charges NSA leaker Snowden with espionage

Federal prosecutors filed espionage charges against alleged National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, officials familiar with the process said. Authorities have also begun the process of getting Snowden back to the United States to stand trial.

The charges were filed June 14 under seal in federal court in Alexandria, Va. — and only disclosed Friday.


August 7: LGBT Sports Coalition Challenges Obama, IOC To Take Action On Russian Anti-Gay Law

The statement asks the Obama administration to work with other LGBT-friendly nations to “engage Russia and every nation in the repeal of all laws criminalizing homosexuality,” and the coalition wants the American ambassador to the United Nations to pursue sanctions against Russia and other such countries. Tuesday night, President Obama spoke out against the law on The Tonight Show, saying he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”


Editor’s Note: Feel free to leave links to other news items in the comment threads.


A reminder from the Moose Diary Preview: “Be excellent to each other… or else.”


  1. Condoleezza Rice: Obama ‘Absolutely Right’ To Cancel Putin Summit (VIDEO)

    Rice told Charlie Rose on “CBS This Morning” that the U.S. and Russia have “very few overlapping interests any longer” and characterized their relationship as “terrible.”

    “The President is absolutely right not to go to Moscow for a bilateral conversation with Putin,” Rice said. “There’s nothing to talk to about. The slap in the face to the United States of America of giving asylum to Edward Snowden, the President absolutely cannot go to a bilateral conversation with Putin.”

  2. – Speak to current state of U.S.-Russian relations.


    I had always feared we would never have a discussion on any real issues that underlie all this sturm and drang because the underlying story was a classic GOP like truthiness scandal and we’re definitely into that zone now.

    The above website is extremely cool in that it is an outstanding illustration of what they are proposing is being so heinously monitored.  Of course I’m not taking to account the 15 super computers at the FEMA camps because as a dude who sees UFOs I have no ability to conceive of things outside of the mainstream and as a Black dude who still fears police at near age 50 an authoritarian drone.

  4. ThinkProgress: Obama Announces Plans To Reform Surveillance Programs

    During a White House press conference, Obama noted that, as he stated in a speech back in May, he had planned conducting thorough review of the oversight of U.S. counterterror programs but Snowden’s leaks have forced a conversation about them in a “very passionate but not always fully informed way.”

    “It’s right” to ask questions about surveillance, Obama said, but “it’s not enough for me to have confidence in these programs, the American people have to have confidence in them as well.” Thus, the president announced four steps toward reform.

    – work with Congress to reform the authorities authorizing NSA surveillance so that they include more safeguards and oversight

    – push to give greater assurances to the American people that the secret court authorizing surveillance that privacy is being protected

    – wants to declassify more information about the programs, including the legal rationals behind them,

    – assemble a team of outside independent experts to review communications and surveillance technologies and issue a report on findings and recommendations by the end of the year.

    More details and links in the Think Progress article.

  5. princesspat

    I love seeing and hearing his intellect, humor and insightful answers. Makes the pipsqueak new R Senators look even more insignificant than I wish they were!

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