Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Obama: No evidence of security breach in Petraeus scandal
First Published Nov 14 2012 11:59 am • Last Updated Nov 14 2012 01:56 pm

WASHINGTON • President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has seen no evidence that national security was threatened by the widening sex scandal that ensnared his former CIA director and top military commander in Afghanistan.

Facing questions from reporters, Obama also reaffirmed his belief that the U.S. can’t afford to continue tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a key sticking point in negotiations with Republicans over the impending "fiscal cliff." He said, "The American people understood what they were getting" when they voted for him after a campaign that focused heavily on taxes.

Photos

At a glance

Obama hopes to meet with Romney before year’s out

President Barack Obama says he hasn’t yet scheduled a meeting with Republican Mitt Romney.

At a news conference Wednesday, Obama said he hopes to have the chance to talk with Romney before the end of the year.

Obama said the election was only a week ago, and that everybody needs to catch their breath.

He said he thinks Romney did a terrific job with the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Obama said he’s not pre-judging how the former Massachusetts governor may be interested in helping the country, nor does he have a specific assignment — but Obama said he does want to talk about some of Romney’s ideas.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

And he defiantly told critics of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a potential candidate to lead the State Department, that they should "go after me" — not her — if they have issues with the administration’s handling of the deadly attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. His words were aimed at Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have vowed to block Rice’s potential nomination.

The president addressed those topics and others for about 50 minutes in his first news conference since he won re-election last week. His party also picked up seats in both houses of Congress, but the president refrained from claiming a broad mandate, other than for protecting middle class families.

The tangled email scandal that cost David Petraeus his CIA career and led to an investigation of Gen. John Allen has disrupted Obama’s plans to keep a narrow focus on the economy coming out of the election. And it has overshadowed his efforts to build support behind his re-election pledge to make the wealthy pay more in taxes in order to reduce the federal deficit.

Obama said he hoped the scandal would be a "single side note" in Petraeus’ otherwise extraordinary career.

Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA last Friday because of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, who U.S. officials say sent harassing emails to a woman she viewed as a rival for the former general’s affection. The investigation revealed that that woman, Jill Kelley, also exchanged sometimes-flirtatious messages with Allen.

Obama brushed aside questions about whether he was informed about the FBI investigations that led to the disclosures quickly enough. White House officials first learned about the investigations last Wednesday, the day after the election, and Obama was alerted the following day.

"My expectation is that they follow the protocols that they’ve already established," Obama said. "One of the challenges here is that we’re not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations and that’s been our practice."

Turning back to the economy, the president vowed not to cave to Republicans who have pressed for tax cuts first passed by George W. Bush to be extended for all income earners. Obama has long opposed extending the cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year, but he gave into GOP demands in 2010 when the cuts were up for renewal.


story continues below
story continues below

That won’t happen this time around, he said Wednesday.

"Two years ago the economy was in a different situation," Obama said. "But what I said at the time was what I meant. Which was this is a one-time proposition."

The president and Congress are also seeking to avoid across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect because lawmakers failed to reach a deal to reduce the federal deficit. Failure to act would lead to spending cuts and higher taxes on all Americans, with middle-income families paying an average of about $2,000 more next year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Obama said he was "open to new ideas" but would not allow current tax rates to continue for the top 2 percent of wage earners, drawing a line for Republicans who say they will not tolerate any tax rate increases. Asked if the tax rates for the rich had to return to Clinton-era levels, Obama indicated he was open to negotiations.

Looking ahead to his second-term agenda, Obama pledged quick action on comprehensive immigration reform, but said climate change would be a tougher slog. There was little action on either issue during his first term.

Obama said he expected that a comprehensive immigration reform bill would be introduced "very soon after my inauguration." The White House is already engaged in conversations with Capitol Hill.

He said the legislation should make permanent the administrative changes he made earlier this year that allow some young illegal immigrants to remain in the country legally. He said that the overall bill should include a "pathway to legal status" for the millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally but haven’t committed crimes unrelated to immigration.

On climate change, Obama said he would soon start conversations with Congress and industry to sound out their positions.

Before tackling those issues and others, Obama will have to face the departure of several key Cabinet secretaries and White House staffers. Among those expected to leave are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry are the leading candidates to replace Clinton. Rice is a favorite of the president, but she has faced intense criticism for her role in the initial administration response to the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, during an attack

"When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me," Obama said. "And should I choose, if I think that she would be the best person to serve America, in the capacity of the State Department, then I will nominate her. That’s not a determination that I’ve made yet."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.