Entries in President Barack Obama (86)


Obama's Birthday Weekend: Golf, Terror Updates and Camp David

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama, who turns 52 on Sunday, spent Saturday playing golf with friends at Joint Base Andrews, but before he hit the links, he was briefed on the terrorist threat that will cause 21 U.S. embassies to close Sunday.

“Before departing this morning, the president was updated on the potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco. He will continue to be updated through the weekend,” a White House official told reporters.

The State Department has ordered all U.S. embassies to close Sunday. Most are closed anyway on Sundays, except those in Muslim countries, meaning the closures affect 21 embassies in the Muslim world. The State Department also issued a worldwide travel alert for Americans on Friday.

After the briefing, the president’s motorcade left the White House with golf clubs and at least one cooler in tow. Later, he planned to head to Camp David.

Three groups teed off at Andrews, according to a White House official, including a smattering of old friends and former colleagues. Among them were two Chicago friends, Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker. Whitaker attended graduate school with Obama at Harvard. High school friends Mike Ramos and Bobby Titcomb, who was arrested in 2011 in Honolulu on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute, were also there.  Obama has played golf with him at least twice since the arrest.

Former aide Reggie Love and Chicago chef Sam Kass, who has also served as a White House chef, senior policy adviser on nutrition, and executive director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, also played.

Obama was expected to depart for Camp David in the afternoon, returning Sunday.

The presidential golf outing got cool-for-August morning temperatures accompanied by some intermittent, light drizzling rain.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama: US, China Must Develop 'Firm Understanding' on Cybersecurity

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(PALM SPRINGS, Calif.) – President Obama Friday night sought to make a clear distinction between his administration’s domestic surveillance and cyber espionage, after the first in a series of meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping where cybersecurity topped the agenda.

“It’s important … to distinguish between the deep concerns we have as a government about theft of intellectual property or hacking into systems that might disrupt those systems … versus some of the issues that have been raised around NSA programs,” Obama told reporters.

The recent disclosure of the Obama administration’s surveillance programs is threatening to overshadow the president’s efforts to press Xi on the high-tech attacks that China is reportedly launching against the U.S.

“When it comes to those cybersecurity issues like hacking or theft, those are not issues that are unique to the U.S.-China relationship,” Obama said. “Those are issues that are of international concern … and we’re going to have to work very hard to build a system of defenses and protections … around setting up common rules of the road.”

Sitting alongside Xi after their two-hour-plus meeting at the Sunnylands estate in Palm Springs, Obama said the leaders find themselves in “unchartered waters.”

“It’s critical as two of the largest economies and military powers in the world that China and the United States arrive at a full understanding of how we work together on these issues,” he said.

The Chinese have so far denied such cyber attacks. Xi said his country is “firm in upholding cybersecurity” and that China is also a victim of cyber attacks.

Xi warned that new technology is a “double edge-sword” that can drive progress but also challenge governments. He added that he was hopeful the U.S. and China could work together on cybersecurity issues.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Threatening Letter to Obama Similar to Pair Sent to Bloomberg

Photo By Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post(WASHINGTON) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may not have been the only major public official targeted in the most recent incident involving tainted letters sent through the mail.

Authorities intercepted a letter addressed to President Barack Obama at a White House mail-sorting facility that was similar to the ones targeting Bloomberg, according to The New York Times. The letter was turned over to the FBI task force investigating the letters sent to Bloomberg, at least one of which tested positive for ricin.

The letter's postmark was from Louisiana, like those sent to Bloomberg, and had similar handwriting on the envelope, says the Times. New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters on Thursday that he believes the letter to Obama is identical to the pair sent to Bloomberg.

The previous letters were printed from a computer and were postmarked May 20 from Shreveport, La. In the letters, the author claims, "The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right 'til the day I die."

The letter sent to Obama will undergo further testing, but has not yet tested positive for ricin.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


McConnell Campaign Ad Uses IRS Scandal Against Obama

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is jumping on the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service in a new campaign advertisement, using vintage video footage of Richard Nixon to amplify his criticism of President Obama and his administration.

No opponent has yet emerged to challenge McConnell in Kentucky, so he is biding his time by sharply condemning the Obama administration in the wake of the IRS acknowledging that conservative groups had been unfairly targeted.

It is the clearest sign yet the IRS controversy is likely to play a central role in the midterm elections next year.

The new online ad for McConnell, obtained by ABC News, seeks to draw comparisons between Nixon and Obama. It shows a famous clip from an interview with David Frost, where Nixon declares: “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.”

It is the first political ad of the year to show IRS officials on the hot seat at recent Congressional hearings. One employee is shown taking the Fifth Amendment and declining to testify, while two others repeatedly say they were unaware of the targeting underway by the IRS.

The web video also stitches together speeches that McConnell has been delivering for more than a year. It raises questions about government intimidation and the IRS treatment of Tea Party groups and others applying for tax-exempt status.

“I think that the leader of the free world and his advisers have better things to do than to dig through other people’s tax returns,” McConnell says.

While McConnell is one of the top targets of the 2014 election cycle, Democrats have struggled to field a challenger, and talk of a Republican primary race has not materialized, in part because McConnell is building a presidential-size campaign in hopes of being re-elected to a sixth term in the Senate.

The president moved quickly to respond to the IRS scandal after it became public, but the White House has struggled to explain a consistent sequence of events about which administration officials were aware of the investigation inside the IRS.

Jesse Benton, the campaign manager for McConnell, said the IRS controversy speaks to anxieties and concerns voters have about the government.

“He’s going to keep pushing on it,” Benton said in an interview. “There are a great majority of Americans that would agree, regardless of political party, that we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Americans of good conscience across the ideological spectrum are going to band together and say this is enough.”

The online ad called “Demand Answers” was produced by Lucas Baiano, a videographer who is known for making iconic video images for Republican candidates. It is the third ad he has made for McConnell.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama, Chris Christie to Tour Recovery Efforts at Jersey Shore

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(ASBURY PARK, N.J.) -- Nearly six months after superstorm Sandy ravaged the Jersey Shore, President Obama will return to New Jersey on Tuesday to get a firsthand look at the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Obama will join Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday afternoon in Asbury Park, N.J., where he will speak about the rebuilding efforts. The pair will tour areas that were hard hit by last September's storm.

In addition to the tour, President Obama will meet with citizens and business owners from the area, who "have shown such resilience in the face of the destructive storm, and make clear that while the rebuilding efforts to date have been extensive, the administration will continue to stand with the impacted communities as the important work of recovery continues," says a White House press release.

Obama and Christie took a similar tour of the damaged areas of New Jersey near the end of Obama's 2012 presidential campaign.

The stop in New Jersey comes just one day after the president toured Moore, Okla., to see firsthand the damage following last week's tornado.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


President Obama Golfing with Cabinet Secretaries

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- After a week of hearings in Washington and despite cloudy skies, President Obama is spending his Saturday afternoon on the golf course.

Obama's foursome included Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Senior Policy Advisor Sam Kass.

Obama has frequented the golf course often this spring, but until Saturday always with male golfing partners. Sebelius is the first woman to join the president on the golf course this year.

Sebelius was seen getting into the president's SUV before the motorcade left the White House.

Kass is also the executive director of Let's Move! and an assistant chef at the White House.

The president’s golf outing comes after the White House spent a week dealing with a series of political scandals, from the IRS targeting conservative groups seeking tax exempt status for extra scrutiny, to the administration’s release of a trove of e-mails about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year, to the Department of Justice obtaining phone records of Associated Press reporters.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Honors Nation's Top Police Officers at White House

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama honored several dozen of the nation’s top law enforcement officials at the White House on Saturday, saying they “embody America at its best and at its bravest.”

“We know that when we need you most, you’ll be ready to dash into danger, to protect our lives, even if it means putting your lives on the line,” he said as the National Association of Police Organization’s TOP COPS Award recipients stood behind him during an event in the East Room of the White House. “That’s what these folks are all about. That’s what the men and women standing behind me have proven — their heart, their courage, their dedication.”

As he paid tribute to the nation’s top police officers, the president also pushed for “common-sense steps” on gun control to ensure the safety of those officers in the line of duty.

“We also need to take some common-sense steps that protect our rights, protect our children, protect officers in the line of duty by making it harder for dangerous criminals to get their hands on lethal weapons,’ he said.

Obama praised the work of law enforcement officials and first responders during the attacks and the ensuing investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings last month.

“Just a few weeks ago obviously in Boston, our entire country saw once again the strong stuff these men and women in uniform are made of. Police officers, first responders, who were running towards explosives, not knowing if there was something more on the way. Law enforcement from different agencies, from different parts of the country working together as one united team to identify suspects and bring them to justice,” he said. “And in a moment that few of us will ever forget, the citizens of Watertown, Massachusetts, lining the streets to cheer on and high-five and hug the officers as they’re heading home after a job well done.”

The honorees came from police departments from across the country — from Oak Creek, Wis., where police officers responded to the deadly shooting at the Sikh temple last summer, to New York City. The president highlighted several officers’ heroic acts, including that of Det. Ivan Marcano of the New York Police Department, who was off-duty and on a “date night” with his girlfriend when he was shot in the chest while trying to stop a burglary.

“He got out of his girlfriend’s car to stop them and was shot point blank in the chest, a bullet inches from his heart.  But his story doesn’t end there,” the president said. “As his girlfriend was driving him to the hospital, I’m sure not very happy with him, by total coincidence, they ran into the shooter’s getaway car.  So what does Det. Marcano do? He jumps out of the car, he’s been shot, keeps pressure on his chest with his left hand, holding a service weapon with his right, he runs after the suspects.  He took one of them down, which led to the capture of the others.

“He wasn’t on the clock when any of this happened.  This was his date night,” Obama added.

Since 1994, NAPO has honored some of the nation’s outstanding law enforcement officials who have gone beyond the call of duty with the annual TOP COPS Awards, which are to be officially presented Sunday during a ceremony in Washington.

As he praised the cops for their work, the president made a call for the country to take the time to thank those officers who risk their lives to protect them.

“When you see a police officer, you meet an officer’s family, let them know how much you appreciate it.  It’s the least we can do for the men and women who give us so much and help keep us safe,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New President Elected at Annual NRA Convention

NRANews/YouTube(HOUSTON) -- The NRA has a new president, Birmingham, Ala., attorney Jim Porter, and if his old stump speeches are any indication, he has a knack for firing up a crowd.

Porter, who until this week was first vice president at the NRA and chairman of the group’s Legal Affairs Committee, will officially take over for David Keene at the group’s annual convention this weekend in Houston. The NRA’s executive vice president and CEO, Wayne LaPierre, has headed the organization since 1991 and has become a somewhat controversial but public face of the organization in recent months.

It’s no surprise that Porter, whose father was an NRA president in the late 1950s, is well-versed in NRA doctrine, namely protecting 2nd Amendment rights at all costs.

Anyone expecting the NRA to soften on assault weapons would be deeply disappointed.

Indeed, Porter, 64, has put it in crystal-clear terms: He believes the NRA was founded to teach civilians how to use military-style weapons in the Civil War era.

“That was the very reason they started the National Rifle Association, was to teach and train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm,” Porter said at the New York Rifle & Pistol Association’s Annual Meeting in 2012. “And I am one who still feels very strongly that that is our greatest charges that we could have today is to train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm, so when they have to fight for their country, they’re ready to do it.

“Also when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they’re ready to do it. Also when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they have the wherewithal and the weapons to do it,” Porter added.

The video of the meeting was first unearthed by the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

Speaking of a fight, Porter also noted that the Civil War is commonly mislabeled in the North.

“Y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it ‘the war of northern aggression’ down South,” Porter said.

In that same speech, Porter also made it clear that there’s no love lost between the NRA and President Obama, whom he called a “fake president.”

“His entire administration is anti-gun, anti-freedom, anti-second amendment,” Porter said.

And that was before Obama backed a new background checks bill and pushed for an assault weapons ban in Congress.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Ramps Up Support for Syrian Opposition

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has directed his national security team to identify ways to significantly increase U.S. support of the opposition forces battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Among the options under consideration is supplying arms to rebel forces, although no decision on that has been made.

The first step will likely be a dramatic expansion of non-lethal aid to opposition fighters.

“The items to be supplied will be decided after consultations with the Supreme Military Command,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. "Additional communications equipment, armor, night-vision goggles and vehicles are among the items being discussed.”

Hayden also suggested aid to the rebels could go beyond such non-lethal assistance.

“We continue to consider all other possible options that would accomplish our objective of hastening a political transition,” she said.

The aid is intended to tilt the balance in favor of the rebels and hasten the fall of the Assad regime. It is not a direct response to chemical weapons evidence, but a recognition that the situation in Syria has gotten worse and the only real solution is for Assad to be ousted.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced last week that the United States would be doubling aid to the opposition, bringing the total U.S. aid to $250 million, including non-lethal supplies to the opposition’s military wing.

Beyond that, senior administration sources say, the White House is actively considering supplying the rebels with arms. This is a move Obama has resisted for fears that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama, National Security Team Meet After Arrest of Bombing Suspect

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and his national security team met on Saturday in the wake of Friday night's dramatic arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect of the terror attack at the Boston Marathon.

The weekend meeting lasted 90 minutes and was attended by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, CIA director John Brennan, Attorney General Eric Holder and other members of the National Security Council, according to a White House statement.

Vice President Joe Biden joined the Situation Room session via teleconference; Biden traveled to Detroit Saturday for an evening fundraiser for the Michigan Democratic Party.

“The President commended the work that was done to pursue justice in the Boston Marathon bombing, and underscored the need to continue gathering intelligence to answer the remaining questions about this terrorist attack going forward,” the White House statement said.

Federal authorities tell ABC News they are planning to invoke a “public safety exception” with Tsarnaev, which allows for them to engage the naturalized U.S. citizen in limited interrogations when there is a threat of danger to the public, without his being read his Miranda rights.

But as the president met with his council, some Republican lawmakers urged the Obama administration to label Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant” — a legal status – after a habeas hearing – that they say could allow his continued confinement for intelligence gathering.

A statement penned by Rep. Peter King and senators John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Lindsey Graham said that while they agreed with the decision not to read the suspect his Miranda rights during his arrest, failure to elevate him to an enemy combatant “could severely limit our ability to gather critical information about future attacks.”

“We should be focused on gathering intelligence from this suspect right now that can help our nation understand how this attack occurred and what may follow in the future,” it reads. “That should be our focus, not a future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio