Obama holds last press conference, Trump set to be inaugurated
WASHINGTONU.S. President Barack Obama held his last press conference at the White House on Jan. 18, with President-elect Donald Trump waiting to be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20.
Obama gave some insight into his vision for life after the White House during a final news conference on Jan. 18, in which he praised the role of a free press and shared personal reflections on how his daughters had dealt with the results of the 2016 election.
Obama and his family will leave for Palm Springs, California, on Jan. 20 after the inauguration of Republican Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
“I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much,” said Obama, 55, who wants to write a book during his first year out of office and spend time with his family.
Obama, a Democrat who made history in 2008 when he was elected America’s first black president, has said repeatedly he appreciated the example set by his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, who steadfastly refrained from weighing in publicly with his views after leaving the Oval Office.
But Obama made clear there were some issues on which he would not hesitate to speak out - issues “where I think our core values may be at stake,” like new obstacles to voting, “institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press” and any push to deport undocumented people who were brought to America as children.
The Obamas will live in Washington, where Sasha, 15, is finishing high school. Malia, 18, has been accepted to Harvard University but is taking a “gap year” break before starting this autumn.
Obama also said he was worried that the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were waning because of growing Israeli settlement of the West Bank.
Obama said that his administration did not block a recent U.N. resolution on Israeli settlement activity because it felt a two-state solution was the only option for peace.
“The goal of the resolution was to simply say that the ... growth of the settlement are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible,” Obama said. “It was important for us to send a signal, a wakeup call that this moment may be passing.”
Obama firmly defended his decision to cut nearly three decades off convicted leaker Chelsea Manning’s prison term, arguing that the former army intelligence analyst had served a “tough prison sentence” already.
Obama said he granted clemency to Manning because she had gone to trial, taken responsibility for her crime and received a sentence that was harsher than other leakers had received. He emphasized that he had merely commuted her sentence, not granted a pardon, which would have symbolically forgiven her for the crime.
“I feel very comfortable that justice has been served,” Obama said.