Entries in The White House (11)


White House: We’re Clean in Prostitution Scandal

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House on Monday tried to halt a ballooning Secret Service scandal involving the alleged hiring of prostitutes by saying it had reviewed "advance team" members who were in Colombia before President Obama's arrival and determined they had done nothing wrong. But the White House refused to share details of the review.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that last Friday a White House lawyer began an investigation of the team members who were in Cartagena during the prostitution scandal, and that it found "no indication of any misconduct" by the White House team.

The decision to review the advance team was made by the White House counsel and the chief of staff's office, Carney said. He declined to confirm how many interviews were undertaken or any other details. "I don't think it's useful to get into the details of how the review was conducted," Carney said.

"I don't have, and I'm not going to give you, a blow-by-blow of what is involved in the review," said Carney.

Carney was pressed about a report on the news website Nextgov that said a person in the White House Communications Agency, a military group that informs the president and his staff members, was under investigation. He declined to answer questions about it, saying they were for the Defense Department instead.

Carney also lashed out against "rumors" on the Internet published by writers "with no editors and no conscience."

"If someone comes to us with some credible allegation that anybody at the White House was involved in any inappropriate conduct, I'm sure that we'll look at it, but there isn't that," he said. "There is an attempt by some to throw rumors out there."

Of the "communications agency," Carney said that "these are military personnel staffed by the military."

"They are not members of the White House staff," he said. "They are not chosen by the White House senior staff."

Members of Congress investigating the agents' trip to Colombia have speculated that more employees would be fired and wondered whether White House staff was involved.

Six Secret Service employees, including two supervisors, have already lost their jobs as a result of an investigation into a night out in Cartagena in which agents drank heavily and mingled with prostitutes before a visit by President Obama.

The Secret Service said last week that 12 employees had been "implicated" in the investigation, and the military said 11 of its service members are being investigated.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Kennedy Documents: The View From First Lady’s Eyes

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It was 50 years ago this week that the American people were taken inside the White House and given a first-of-its-kind televised tour of the executive mansion.

The  tour guide that day was none other than the first lady herself, Jacqueline Kennedy. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the broadcasts, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has released the first portion of Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal papers.

The historical documents not only show how the first lady prepared for the broadcast, but also her desire to restore the White House shortly after her husband took office.

“These new documents demonstrate her work as first lady, her legendary attention to detail and the incredible range of her understanding of art, history and public diplomacy,” said Tom Putnam, the director of the Kennedy Library, in a statement.

It started in November 1961, when the first lady decided that, as a national symbol, the White House needed to be restored in a way that reflected its historical and cultural significance to the country.

In an interview with Hugh Sidey of Life magazine in September of that year, Jacqueline Kennedy said, “All these people come to see the White House, and they see practically nothing that dates back before 1948. Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to ‘redecorate’ it -- a word I hate. It must be restored -- and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.”

The documents reveal how such sentiments motivated the first lady to form the White House Historical Association and Fine Arts Committee, whose task was to restore the interior of the White House to evoke the style of past presidents and first families while keeping mindful of the future generations that would occupy America’s most popular structure.

“No first lady had taken on a project like that in the era of television,” said ABC News’ Cokie Roberts. “Dolley Madison was really the first person to furnish the White House, and it was an enormous undertaking.”

The documents, which Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr., donated to the Kennedy Library, reveal the first lady’s dedication to all aspects of the project -- from the artwork to the furniture to the fabric for the curtains in the Oval Office.

She set a precedent for all future first ladies to come. “They feel very, very strongly that they are the custodians of a historic monument. And they are privileged to be there, even though as difficult as it is,” said ABC’s Roberts.

After a year of restoration, the first lady’s hard work would be displayed to the nation. Jacquelilne Kennedy invited a television crew into the White House for a tour of the newly renovated executive mansion. They show the first lady’s hands-on approach to the restoration and the TV project: She sent notes to the show’s producers, commenting on the script and highlighting details she wanted to talk about on TV.

On  Feb. 14, 1962, the televised tour aired and Jacqueline Kennedy welcomed the world into her home.  The show was syndicated across the globe and delivered a record audience of 80 million viewers.

As she had countless times before,  Jacqueline Kennedy captivated, and the White House was changed forever. “It became the museum of beautiful furniture and art that it is today and will forever be,” said Roberts.

The broadcast even earned Jacqueline Kennedy an honorary Emmy. It is on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, along with the newly released historical documents that give a brief but intimate look into the idealized world of Camelot.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poll: Hillary Clinton Favored for VP if Biden Bows Out

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden says he’s “absolutely, positively” going to be President Obama’s running mate in 2012.  But if he wasn’t?

A plurality of Americans would strongly prefer Hillary Clinton to step in to assume the VP role, according to a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll.

Forty-three percent of adults said they favored Clinton as a Biden replacement when presented with a list of possible names by pollsters.  

Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, CIA director David Petraeus, Oprah Winfrey and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo all received single-digit support in the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Clinton has remained a highly popular figure with voters, insulated from the political fallout over the lagging economy in her role as secretary of state.  A recent Gallup poll found 66 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of her, compared with 46 percent for Biden.

In a March interview with CNN, Clinton announced that she would leave her post if Obama won re-election. She also ruled out running for the presidency again, or joining Obama on the 2012 ticket.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rahm Emanuel in 2016?

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- He’s served in the House of Representatives, two terms in the White House and is now the mayor of Chicago, but when asked if he’s thinking about a 2016 presidential run, Rahm Emanuel says his mind’s already made up.

“Never! Not a chance. Greatest job with the greatest people in the greatest city is right here,” he said in an interview with ABC News.

Emanuel echoed Democratic talking points, telling ABC News that the Republican presidential candidates aren’t “talking about America’s future.”

“I think that the Republican Party right now is all of the policies are about the past. We’ve been there, done that and it broke America. And it’s just a rehash of the past,” he said.

The mayor argued that his former boss has “stabilized” the situation and has a plan to grow the economy.  But despite the country’s economic woes, does Emanuel agree that President Obama is an “underdog” in 2012?

“Well that’s what he sees himself as...I think that’s a right mindset to be tough disciplined and focused to scrap for every make a case to the American people of what it takes to build a future and why his agenda for American future is the right one,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Unexpected Detour: Marine One Forced to Land

Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a highly unusual maneuver, President Obama’s 30-minute flight to the Presidential mountain retreat at Camp David Friday afternoon was diverted to an undisclosed landing near Frederick, Md. and a motorcade assembled to drive him to the nearby site. White House press secretary Jay Carney tells ABC News a “bad weather call” was made before the President and his younger daughter Sasha even boarded the aircraft.

Carney says they arrived safely at Camp David. It remains unexplained why the President would be allowed to board Marine One knowing that the landing site on the mountain was experiencing poor weather making a landing difficult.

The press first learned of the diversion when wire agency still photographers, who traditionally stand by at Camp David for news coverage in case of an emergency, were told by the military at the mountain top Marine base that the President would be arriving by motorcade.

At the time Marine One took off in Washington reported there was no precipitation across the entire region, including Camp David.

Light winds blew from the southeast at 10mph with mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boehner on Debt Talks with White House: "Like Dealing with Jell-O"

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a meeting with a small group of reporters in his Capitol Hill office Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized President Obama and White House officials for their lack of resolve in negotiations.

"Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-O," Boehner said. "Some days it's firmer than others. Sometimes it’s like they’ve left it out overnight."

Boehner explained that talks broke down over the weekend because, he said, the president backed off entitlement reforms so much from Friday to Saturday, “It was Jell-O; it was damn near liquid.”

“By Saturday, they’d spent the previous day and a half just going backwards” on reforming entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. "The only thing they’ve been firm on is these damn tax increases," the Speaker said.

The Speaker also made it clear that he believes the president waited too long to get personally involved. When he phoned the president Saturday to give him the bad news about talks breaking down, President Obama seemed surprised but not shocked, the speaker said. The phone call lasted 35-40 minutes.

Boehner said that the tax increases the White House has been pushing for as part of what the president calls "a balanced package" cannot make it through Congress. "What the president is asking us to do just won’t pass," he said.

The Ohioan said that he believes the public supports the GOP line in the sand. "The American people want us to hang tough,” he said. White House officials "know they’re not winning," Boehner said.

White House officials of course, dispute this assertion and many others that the speaker made.

One thing Boehner and Obama both agree on: they do not want the U.S. government to default on its debts.

“Nobody wants to go there, because nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Boehner said. “It’s a crapshoot.”

That said, according to both Republicans and Democrats familiar with the negotiating process, the path forward remains unclear.

“We’re in a spot where we need to be,” said a Republican official. "It’s not a bad place for us to be" to get a deal done.

Boehner said that since January he urged him to lock arms with him and "go big" on changes to reduce the deficit. The Speaker said that he will continue to push for major reforms to entitlement spending and the tax code even if those provisions do not end up part of this deal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Debt Negotiations: Can A Deal Be Struck?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Even before President Obama could return for talks with Congressional leaders on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction, Speaker of the House John Boehner pulled the plug.

The talks are some of the biggest policy discussions in decades, but Speaker Boehner said Saturday night in a paper statement that he is now skeptical that an agreement can be reached in a $4 trillion deal.

"Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes," Boehner said.

Instead of a grand bargain as President Obama has been hoping for, Boehner now says he's concentrating on producing a smaller measure that "still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase."

Boehner said he wants to focus on a smaller $2 trillion deal, as Vice President Joe Biden was discussing with a bipartisan group prior to the president's involvement, as opposed to the $4 trillion deficit cuts deal that was anticipated from today's planned negotiations.

The White House issued a statement soon after Boehner's, saying that while the president sees solving the country's fiscal issues as imperative, the administration sees the Republicans' demands as putting an unfair burden on the middle class and elderly.

"We cannot ask the middle-class and seniors to bear all the burden of higher costs and budget cuts," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement Saturday night. "We need a balanced approach that asks the very wealthiest and special interests to pay their fair share as well, and we believe the American people agree."

While Boehner has been receiving pressure from Tea Party members, who are unwilling to compromise on raising taxes, the White House was also receiving pushback from Democrats wary of potential cuts to programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Boehner's Saturday night statement marked a major shift in the tone surrounding the debt negotiations, at a time when it seemed that a bipartisan agreement was imminent. Following Friday's bad jobs report, which showed that the US economy gained only 18,000 jobs in June, Boehner was not alone in calling bipartisan cooperation in reaching a compromise. He was one among many leaders from both parties.

Despite the optimistic tone from both parties last week, it does not seem that the political disagreements will be resolved this weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Downplays US-Israel Tensions After Meeting With Netanyahu

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu downplayed disagreements between their two countries as they met Friday amid a backdrop of chilly relations that many observers believe were exacerbated by Obama's Mideast policy speech Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after their long meeting, Obama sought to diffuse the tensions, saying that differences will "happen between friends."

The president's call Thursday for Israel's and Palestine's borders to be based on pre-1967 lines caused outrage among supporters of Israel.

"There are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that's going to happen between friends," the president said. "But what we are in complete accord about is that a true peace can only occur if the ultimate resolution allows Israel to defend itself against threats and that Israel's security will remain paramount in U.S. evaluations of any prospective peace deal."

More telling, however, was Netanyahu's response. Talking directly to Obama, Netanyahu asserted that any border based on lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War would be "indefensible" and a threat to Israel's security. Netanyahu also refused to work with any Palestinian government that would include Hamas in the negotiations, calling the group the "Palestinian version of al Qaeda."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Thanks Military Families

ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- In an emotional moment on Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama told a gathering of mothers, grandmothers and spouses of U.S. service members at the White House that she understands some of them may be sad this Mother’s Day because they are mourning a loved one.

“All we can do is hug you and tell you that we are thinking and praying and working for you all.”

Not all of the guests for “Military Spouse Appreciate Day” at the White House have lost a loved one in military service, some of the family members have loved ones currently serving in the military.

Mrs. Obama told the families that they were invited over to the White House for tea because she hoped the invite could serve as a very small way to say thank you.

“Every day you deal with things that most of us can only imagine,” the first lady said.  

“Even if you’re not the ones wearing the uniform, every single one of you is serving our country and every single one of you deserves our support.”  

The families enjoyed tea and snacks with Mrs. Obama as well as Dr. Jill Biden, who herself is a military mother and grandmother.

In her own remarks, Biden mentioned the military operation to kill Osama bin Laden.  “The historic action in Pakistan reminds Americans of the courage military family members demonstrate on a daily basis.”  She said the entire nation is proud of all the families.

“You are all heroes.”  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Condoleezza Rice on Bin Laden's Death: 'Extraordinary Moment'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- “Extraordinary” -- that’s what former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spent eight years chasing Osama bin Laden, called the killing of the al Qaeda leader and the news that Navy SEALs had taken him down.

“It really said so much about the United States of America. I remember when President Bush said ‘We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail,” she told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday for Good Morning America. “He really meant the United States of America. And President Obama and his team are to be congratulated to having brought this to an end.”

Rice said she was “surprised” to find out that bin Laden was hiding so close to Islamabad and said it raises some important questions for the Pakistani government.

“Questions that really the Pakistanis need to answer not just for us but for themselves. They have been victims of al Qaeda terrorism. They have been victims of terrorism leading to the death of Benazir Bhutto. So I am sure Pakistan will want to understand better why he could hide right there in plain sight,” she said.

Asked whether it’s time for the administration to rethink the mission in Afghanistan – since they caught Osama and so few members of al Qaeda are still there, Rice said “the mission is really finally making some achievements.”

“The reporting is good about what we have achieved over the last several months,” she said.

“We have a chance to leave an Afghanistan that is more secure with better security forces, a more decent Afghan government and then ultimately a safer South Asian region because it’s not just the stability of Afghanistan but the stability of Pakistan that is important too.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio