Original Post: President Obama will hold a joint press conference today with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, but you can bet the White House press corps won't be asking him about trade policies. The press will only get a brief number of questions after the two leaders talk about cooperation on the Syria conflict and other matters between the nations, but you can bet the assembled media will find a way to bring up both the IRS and Benghazi scandals. And the president will be prepared.
You can watch the White House live stream of the meeting below, but we'll also be providing updates as the questioning unfolds. The scheduled start time is noon Eastern, but don't hold your breath. (Currently about
30 minutes late; it's now 40 minutes ... and it's raining in the Rose Garden.)
LATEST (1:20 p.m.): Obama is asked about comparisons between his scandals and President Nixon's: "You can go ahead and read the history and draw your own conclusions." The other question is about the Justice Department and if he has confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder: He says fixing problems in the government "is my responsibility." The president stresses the dangers of leaks and how they can put the lives of diplomats and intelligence agents in danger overseas. For that reason he makes "no apologies" for pursuing those who leak information, as the DOJ did in investigating the Associated Press. After being reminded in a follow up that he didn't answer the question about Holder, Obama finally says he has "complete confidence" in Eric Holder.
Marines to the rescue! Raining harder, Obama asks for umbrellas, MArines instantly materialize twitter.com/lynnsweet/stat…— Lynn Sweet (@lynnsweet) May 16, 2013
(1:13 p.m.): A Turkish media member asks both leaders about Syria. Obama says they will continue to push for a peaceful transition in Syria that removes Bashar al-Assad from power. "This is not something the United States does by itself."
(1:10 p.m.): Erdogan says he will visit the West Bank and Gaza in June.
(1:05 p.m.): The president was asked when he found how about the IRS tax scandal, and if he should have found out about it before the news broke in the press. He doesn't really address that specifically, but say: "My main concern is fixing a problem."
(12:55 p.m.): During his remarks, Obama announces plan to beef up security and training at embassies around the world, which includes asking Congress for funding for security. He referred to attacks in Libya and Turkey and mentions that the Turkish government will help in the effort.