President Barack Obama held his final press conference as POTUS in the White House briefing room on Wednesday, January 18. Watch what he said in the clip above, and follow along with Us Weekly‘s minute-by-minute live blog below for all the highlights! (Be sure to start from the bottom if you want to read the updates in chronological order.)
3:23 p.m. ET: As Obama announced it was time for the final question of the press conference, the reporters in the briefing room collectively sighed. He was then asked about Malia and Sasha and the girls’ reaction to Trump’s shocking election over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“Man, my daughters are something,” he gushed. “They just surprise and enchant and impress me more and more every single day as they grow up. So these days, when we talk, we talk as parent to child but also we learn from them. I think it was really interesting to see how Malia and Sasha reacted [to Trump’s election]. They were disappointed.”
“We’ve tried to teach them hope,” Obama continued. “The only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world. You get knocked down, you get up, you brush yourself off and you get back to work, and that tended to be their attitude. Neither of them intend to pursue a future of politics. In that, too, I think their mother’s influence shows. But both of them have grown up in an environment where I think they could not help but be patriotic, to love this country deeply, to see that it’s flawed but to see that they have responsibilities to fix it.”
3:15 p.m. ET: While discussing the “whole notion of voting fraud,” Obama threw shade at Trump, saying, “This is something that has constantly been disproved. This is fake news! We have a whole bunch of people who are eligible to vote that don’t vote.”
He also talked about voters rights, saying, “When we feel stressed, when we feel pressure, when we’re just fed information that encourages some of our worst instincts, we tend to fall back into some of the old racial fears.”
3:06 p.m. ET: “I could not be prouder of the transformation that’s taken place in our society just in the last decade,” Obama said of his record with the LGBT community. “I think we made some useful contributions to it, but the primary heroes in this stage of our growth as a democracy and a society are all the individual activists and sons and daughters and couples who’ve courageously said, ‘This is who I am and I’m proud of it.’ That opened people’s minds and opened their hearts. Eventually, laws caught up, but I don’t think any of that wold’ve happened without the activism.”
The POTUS then gave a shout out to LGBT icon and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, to whom he presented the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in November. “I think somebody that kind and likable projecting into living rooms around the country, that changed attitudes,” he said. “That wasn’t easy to do for her. And that’s just one small example of what was happening in countless counties all across the country.”
3:00 p.m. ET: Next, the president discussed the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I continue to be significantly worried about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. I think the status quo is unsustainable,” he said. “I came into this office wanting to do everything I could to encourage serious peace talks. … I think my views are clear. We’ll see how [the Trump administration’s] approach plays it out. I don’t want to project today what could end up happening, but obviously it’s a volatile environment.”
2:50 p.m. ET: As for his priorities as a private citizen, the Audacity of Hope author said he plans to spend more time with his wife and their daughters, Malia, 18, and Sasha, 15. “It’s important for me to take some time to process this amazing experience. I want to do some writing. I want to be quiet a little bit. I want to spend precious time with my girls,” he said.
2:45 p.m. ET: Obama said he’s had many “lengthy” and “substantive” conversations with Trump. “This is a job of such magnitude that you can’t do it by yourself. You are enormously reliant on a team. Your Cabinet, your senior White House staff, all the way to fairly junior folks,” he said.
When asked if he supports those boycotting Trump’s inauguration, Obama replied, “With respect to the inauguration, I’m not going to comment on those issues. All I know is I’m going to be there. So is Michelle.”
2:33 p.m. ET: When asked about his controversial decision to commute soldier and WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning‘s sentence, Obama replied, “Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence. … It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received, and that she had served a significant amount of time. It made sense to commute, and not pardon, her sentence. I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent.”
2:25 p.m. ET: President Obama started by joking that he wanted to wear a tan suit for his final press conference, but his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, would not let him. He then offered well wishes to former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, both of whom were recently hospitalized. “They have not only dedicated their lives to this country, they have been a constant source of friendship and support and good council for Michelle and me over the years,” he said. “They are as fine a couple as we know, and so we want to send our prayers to them.”
Original story below:
One last goodbye. President Barack Obama will hold his final press conference as POTUS in the White House briefing room on Wednesday, January 18, at 2:15 p.m. ET.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told CBS This Morning on Wednesday that the commander in chief, 55, “wants to bid a farewell to the White House press corps” and “show them the respect they’ve earned.”
Obama’s remarks come two days before President-elect Donald Trump is set to be sworn in at the inauguration on Friday, January 20. The news conference also follows Obama’s controversial decision to grant a commutation to Chelsea Manning, the soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Later this week, after Trump’s inaugural ceremony, the Obama family will fly to Palm Springs, California, for a vacation. The first family will then return to Washington, D.C., where they are renting a house until Sasha, 15, graduates from high school.
Watch the livestream above, which begins at 2:15 p.m. ET, and follow along with Us‘ live blog for all the highlights!
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